Friday, February 09, 2007

Who will press the Press?

From Real Clear Politics:

Investigate How the Press Led Us Into Iraq

LOS ANGELES -- I don't think there is much argument now that the United States made a mistake going into Iraq. We have destroyed the image we had earned or had tried to create as the necessary nation, the benevolent and humble superpower. Instead, with unbelievable arrogance, we have sowed civil war, scorn and hatred that will last for decades and almost certainly spread through the Middle East and beyond.
But who will investigate the press? Who will say the emperor-investigators have no clothes? Who will shout that the press performance these last few years has been as bad as most every other important institution in the land of the free?
That question was raised forcefully last Wednesday on the Web site of the Nieman Foundation, a temple of journalism housed at Harvard University. The foundation's primary mission is to invite a dozen or so journalists to spend a year at the university for comfortable mid-career education, but its various journals and publications are also critical to the internal dialogue of American journalism.
Cranberg emphasizes that the investigation of the press role should be done by outsiders because no one would believe a self-investigation by distinguished practitioners of our defensive little profession. "The fundamental question," he says, is this: "Why did the press as a whole fail to question sufficiently the administration's case for war?"
  • Why was "against the grain reporting" of doubts about White House claims done by the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau ignored by most of the chain's papers?
  • Why did The Washington Post reject and then bury a story by one of its best and most experienced reporters, Walter Pincus, challenging the White House's assertions that there were hidden weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- all this at the same time the paper was publishing 140 front-page stories reporting administration claims about Iraq?
  • Why did The New York Times and others "parrot" administration claims about Iraq's acquisition of material necessary to manufacture nuclear weapons when there was ample evidence that those claims were untrue?
  • Why did Friedman and other foreign affairs specialists, in Cranberg's words, "who should have known better, join the 'let's go to war' chorus?"
  • Why didn't the American press dissect Secretary of State Colin Powell's critical and disgraceful United Nations speech on Iraqi weapons stores and sites, while the British press was surgically exposing it as the fraud it was?

The reaction to the journalistic malfeasance among the media was met with an explosion in online news gathering among blogs and other alternative news outlets.

We're seeing the results now - vastly diminished circulation and revenue among the establishment media.

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