The head of the BBC's news operations has accused United States media organisations of being overly patriotic in their coverage of the lead-up to the Iraq war.
"Before Iraq, it seemed to me that some US news broadcasters wrapped themselves in the flag and, as a consequence, did not perform the role the public expects of them," said Richard Sambrook, director of the BBC's global news division.
"Our natural instinct is to support our country. But the responsibility of the news media is to ask the difficult questions, to press, to verify," Mr Sambrook said, according to an advance copy of his speech to the Columbia Journalism School in New York.
Earlier this year The New York Times acknowledged it had failed to adequately challenge information from Iraqi exiles who were determined to overthrow Saddam Hussein claiming he had weapons of mass destruction.
The BBC lost a high-stakes battle with Prime Minister Tony Blair's Government over its own coverage of the lead-up to the Iraq war.
The publicly funded broadcaster's chairman and director general were forced to resign after a judicial inquiry into the suicide of David Kelly, a weapons expert who was the source for a BBC report that the Government "sexed up" evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
"We now know that all of us failed to ask the right questions about WMD in advance of the war. That isn't to say the war was wrong: each can make their own mind up about that," Mr Sambrook said.
"But to do so they need accurate information, evidence that has been tested. And if a news organisation imbues itself with patriotism, it inhibits itself from asking some of those questions."
The speech was in part to announce a new international committee to investigate the dangers facing journalists around the world, under the auspices of the International News Safety Institute.
Eighty-five journalists and support staff have been killed in the past year.
THE WORLD IS A BRIDGE, CROSS IT, BUT BUILD NO HOUSE UPON IT!
“IS THERE LIFE AFTER DEATH? ... TRESSPASS HERE AND FIND OUT”
CIA agent Geoffrey Kemp talking about Saddam Hussein:
“WE KNEW HE WAS A SON OF A BITCH, BUT HE WAS OUR SON OF A BITCH”