my latest book)--yet they ran this misleading, cherry-picking, piece by Paul Farhi claiming the media "didn't fail." I love the line about the Post in March 2003 carrying some skeptical pieces just days before the war started: "Perhaps it was too late by then. But this doesn’t sound like failure."
Here's my rejected piece. I see that the Post is now defending killing the article because it didn't offer sufficient "broader analytical points or insights." I'll let you consider if that's true and why they might have rejected it.
Now let's revisit my recent posts here on when probe in the Post itself by Howard Kurtz in 2004 showed that it failed big time. For one thing, Kurtz tallied more than 140 front-page Post stories "that focused heavily on
administration rhetoric against Iraq"--with all but a few of those questioning the evidence buried inside. Editors there killed, delayed or buried key pieces by Ricks, Walter Pincus, Dana Priest and others. The Post's David Ignatius went so far as offering an apology to readers this week for his own failures. Also consider Bob Woodward's reflections here and here. He admitted he had become a willing part of the the "groupthink" that accepted faulty intelligence on the WMDs.
Woodward, shaming himself and his paper, once said it was risky for journalists to write anything that might look silly if WMD were ultimately found in Iraq. Rather than look silly, they greased the path to war. “There was an attitude among editors: Look, we’re going to war, why
do we even worry about all the contrary stuff?" admitted the Post's Pentagon correspondent
Thomas Ricks in 2004. And this classic from a top reporter, Karen DeYoung: “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.“ See my review, at the time, of how the Post fell (hook, line, and sinker) for Colin Powell's fateful U.N. speech--and mocked critics. Not a "fail"?
In Farhi's piece, Len Downie, the longtime Post editor, is still claiming, with a shrug, hey, we couldn't have slowed or halted the war anyway. Farhi agrees with this. Nothing to see here, move along.
Kurtz last week called the media failure on Iraq the most egregious in "modern times," which echoes my book. This week neither the Post nor The New York Times published an editorial admitting any shortcomings in their Iraq coverage. Back in 2003, the Times at least called for caution in invading Iraq, in editorials. On the other hand, as Bill Moyers pointed out, in the six months leading up to the U.S. attack on the Iraq, the Post "editorialized in favor of the war at least 27 times."
Greg Mitchell's book "So Wrong For So Long,"
on media misconduct and the Iraq war, was published this month in an updated
edition and for the first time as an e-book, with preface by Bruce