Yeah -- the "liberal media" is to blame for falling for Bush's "propaganda". Wow.
News of McClellan's Blast at Bush 'Propaganda' Falls 4 Years After 'NYT' Mini-Culpa on War
By Greg Mitchell
Published: May 27, 2008 9:20 PM ET
NEW YORK (Commentary) In a supreme irony, word leaked out about bombshell revelations in the upcoming Scott McClellan memoir – including his unexpected charge that the “liberal media” fell for Bush “propaganda” on the Iraq -- almost exactly four years from the day from The New York Times offered its famous “mini-culpa” on its role in helping to pave the way for war.
The Times, you remember, reluctantly published a short piece, admitting that a half dozen of its stories in the run-up to the war were fatally flawed, but didn’t name any of the guilty scribes and buried the story on Page A10 – about where many of its articles that had raised doubts about Saddam’s WMD had ended up.
Now here is McClellan in his book, "What Happened," as quoted by Mike Allen of Politico.com, admitting that the Times and other media had been too easily hoodwinked by the White House.
McClellan charges that Bush relied on “propaganda” to sell the war. Allen summarizes: “He says the White House press corps was too easy on the administration during the run-up to the war....McClellan repeatedly embraces the rhetoric of Bush's liberal critics.”
In the book, McClellan charges: “If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq. The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. … In this case, the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”
McClellan also calls the news media “complicit enablers” in the White House’s “carefully orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of public approval” in the march to war.
E&P was one of the few “mainstream” publications to repeatedly raise serious questions about the case for war before the invasion. In the months after the attack, we often charged that the Times had been duped and questioned why it refused to come clean. Executive Editor Bill Keller mocked some of the critics (and late stood by Judith Miller through thick and thin).
Finally, on May 26, 2004, the paper ran an editors’ note, copping to some of the charges. But the paper tried to shield the guilty parties, and I was first online to identify by name the authors of the six pieces in questions with Miller turning out to be most guilty, with Michael Gordon also having a hand in two stories.
The paper refused to penalize any reporters or editors for their failures. Jack Shafer of Slate memorably called the mea culpa a “mini-culpa.”
Perhaps most embarrassing, the paper’s reluctant review sparked some other papers that had carried the faulty Times accounts in 2002 and 2003 to run corrections of their own. Many of them placed their own apologies in far more prominent positions than did the Times.
And clearly Keller had been reluctant to own up to the misreporting at all, at least in that time frame. Consider that my assessment of the Times’ report, carried the day it appeared, closed with this: “But Executive Editor Bill Keller continues to defend the editors’ note, and blamed ‘overwrought’ critics for overreacting to the Times’s WMD coverage. Asked why he finally published the editors’ note, Keller (quoted in the Washington Post) replied: ‘Mainly because it was a distraction. This buzz about our coverage had become a kind of conventional wisdom, much of it overwrought and misinformed.’
“With his managing editor, Jill Abramson, he penned a memo to staffers explaining that the critique in the paper was ‘not an attempt to find a scapegoat or to blame reporters for not knowing then what we know now.’
The problem of course was that certain reporters ignored, or only paid lip service to, evidence that “we know now’ – but (as some Knight Ridder reporters showed) was often also available then.”
But don’t my word for it. Ask Scott McClellan.
Greg Mitchell's full report that day is carried in his new book, So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq.