The most important newspaper in its region finally apologized to readers for accepting "cooked" evidence about WMD in Iraq that helped lead to war in 2003. No, it was not The New York Times.The other side, of course, thinks this is just about the worst thing ever (and they repeat debunked lies while they're at it). But the other side needs to see a bigger picture. As the Rutten article reference by E&P says,
In a column on Sunday, O. Ricardo Pimentel, editorial page editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wrote that, “Yes, regrettably on the matter of WMD, count us as among the many who were duped. We should have been more skeptical. For that lack of skepticism and the failure to include the proper caveats to the WMD claim, we apologize, though I would note that, ultimately, we didn't believe that the president's central WMD argument warranted war. Not then and especially not now.”
The column appeared on the same day Tim Rutten, media writer for the Los Angeles Times, urged major newspapers to own up to their role in easily accepting the WMD argument from the Bush administration. He noted that his own newspaper was among this large group.
Connect the dots and what do you get?And, Rutten says, the media played along, knowingly or not, and it's important to the credibility of the media to admit when they are wrong. An ill-informed electorate is as bad--or worse--than an uninformed electorate. "The American people need to know [how we were manipulated] because that knowledge is key to the responsible exercise of citizenship in the upcoming midterm elections and beyond," Rutten says. Yeah, yeah, I can hear the dissenters, he's a partisan Democrat, blah, blah. To paraphrase Lawrence Wilkerson from that previous post of mine: Given the choice, I'd take an honest partisan over a lying warmonger any day.
Clearly, it's a picture of an administration in disarray--particularly when you shade the scene with the fact that more than half of all Americans now say the invasion of Iraq was a mistake; the implosion of presidential crony Harriet E. Miers' Supreme Court nomination; the indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and the investigation into possible insider trading by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
That's the foreground.
In the background is a more ambiguous image, and bringing it into clearer focus is the most urgent challenge now confronting the American news media. Plainly put, the issue is this: George W. Bush and the key members of his administration--particularly Cheney, Libby's former boss--convinced the American people, still traumatized by the Sept. 11 atrocities, to support war against Hussein by telling them that he had both nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction. It was only a matter of time, they said, before the vengeful Iraqi dictator, a mass murderer of his own people, made those weapons available to terrorists who would use them against the United States.
What's important here is that the media (and I find it hard to believe that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel may be a leader in this regard) is waking up from its 1990s-induced fit of pundit journalism, and instead taking responsibility for, you know, reporting, like, facts. Being able to admit you were wrong is a good first step. Insisting on playing spin the pundit bottle will only lead to the same kinds of messes we're in now: 2000+ dead and counting.