Its website carries an article titled "By rehabilitating Iraq War boosters, is the press forgiving itself?" Eric Boehlert, a staff member, argues that in the latest military crisis in Iraq, some television reporters have gratuitously given airtime to Bush architects of the 2003 invasion to dump on Obama. He suggests collusion between the Bush camp and "media elites" who swallowed the rationale for the war and helped sell it.
The author argued that Karl was "rehabilitating" Cheney, by giving him a microphone to bash Obama for having to send troops back into Iraq. "People might be forgetting," he contended, "the deep bond that ran between the compliant Beltway media in 2003 and the very same failed Iraq war architects and partisan boosters the press is now turning to for advice."
He wondered why "the discredited 'experts' botched Iraq last time" are now being a given "a platform to comment on the military crisis they helped create." He explained that "the current move to treat failed war sponsors as knowledgeable experts might also be seen as an effort by some journalists to put behind them the massive media missteps that led to the war."
He went on that "it's important to never forget just how much government stenography went on prior to the war in D.C .newsrooms, and just how little daylight existed between the Bush administration and media elites in their ironclad agreement about the need to invade Iraq. Only then does the continued symmetry now on display begin to make sense."
The author concluded: "By rehabilitating the epically ignorant Iraq war founders, I think the press is also trying to rehabilitate itself."
Or is the author trying to rehabilitate his own eight-year-old book on a compliant press, mentioned in his lament?
Nowhere in this screed is any light shed on whether Jonathan Karl ever took any position on the air for or against the invasion of Iraq that would put him in league as a "media elite" with the "Iraq war architects" like Cheney. It does not seem to dawn on the author that by asking Cheney and other "war sponsors" about it, voters can be reminded of how wrong these experts were about what arguably was the worst foreign-policy misadventure in American history.
The author's broad-brush assault on "the press" regarding the invasion ignores the detailed and repeated challenges to its premises at the time in the Knight-Ridder (now McClatchy) newspapers and columns in the Baltimore Sun and elsewhere. Their warnings and dissents were confirmed later by Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell when he wrote that his UN testimony trying to sell the invasion was a "blot" on his distinguished record.
The article is on the website of Media Matters for America, a self-styled journalism watchdog founded and chaired by David Brock, a former confessed right-wing hit man who targeted the Clintons and lawyer Anita Hill in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination hearings. He has since gotten religion, recanted and become a self-anointed apostle of the political left, in keeping with his endless self-promotion.
If media matters, one wonders why his group offers an argument against the imperative of any journalist asking whatever questions of whomever he or she chooses, to bring varying views to the public. "The press" has its faults, of course, but saying it shills for politicians to gain cover for its own is quite a stretch.
(Jules Witcover's latest book is Joe Biden: A Life of Trial and Redemption" (William Morrow). You can respond to this column at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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