Monday, August 22


Editor & Publisher reminds us not to let the media off the hook for its part in the rush to war:

Yet it was the media's swallowing of the false claims in Powell's crucial speech that enabled the march to war to continue.

E&P raised questions about the credibility of the Powell speech at the time and was critical of the press coverage from the start. Then, two years ago, it presented the first in-depth demolition of the Powell speech, provided by Charles J. Hanley, special correspondent for the Associated Press. E&P called the Powell charade the turning point in the march to war, and charged that the media, in almost universally declaring that he had "made the case," fell for it, hook, line and sinker, thereby making the invasion (which some of the same newspapers later questioned) inevitable.
Why does any of this matter? It's fashionable to suggest that the White House was bent on war and nothing could have stopped them. But until the Powell speech, public opinion, editorial sentiment (as chronicled by E&P at the time) and street protests were all building against the war.

The Powell speech, and the media's swallowing of it, changed all that.

The plain truth is, the media was so enthralled with Colin Powell and so convinced that he was a man of unimpeachable integrity, that they just plain swallowed whatever he said as gospel. But don't suppose that the thrill of going to war and the hot stories that would inevitably result wasn't a part of their thinking. Dramatic stories are the coin of the realm to journalists, and what's more dramatic than war and terrorist threats?


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