September 4, 2013

A note to former editors of the New York Times, former editors of The Washington Post and all manner of national security reporters and editors: At ease! No longer do you have to regret that your news outlets did an insufficiently rigorous job of fact-checking the Bush administration’s case for war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. That’s because today, in a discussion on Fox News, commentator Monica Crowley absolved you. Have a look at these wonderful, exculpatory words:

I think when you take a look at the runup to the Iraq war … what you see is that President Bush and his team spent a year-plus building public support for the invasion of Iraq, they got U.N. approval, they got congressional authorization to use force and as you just mentioned, by the time we were ready to enter Iraq, three-quarters of the American people supported such an action. (1) During that time, most of the media, most (2) — not all — but most of the media were very skeptical about any kind of military intervention in Iraq. They raised a lot of very legitimate questions (3). They also pounded President Bush and his team relentlessly in the runup, during the war and of course even still to this day over that war. A lot of the criticism is valid, a lot of it wasn’t. It was just the fact that it was President Bush prosecuting this war. When you look at the difference between that coverage and the coverage of President Obama going into Libya without congressional approval and now in this runup to a possible action in Syria, it’s like night and day.

Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers, speaking for the rational world, responded that she had a “completely different memory” of the media’s performance prior to the Iraq war.

The Erik Wemple Blog proposes that Fox News circle back to this issue, this time with the assistance of Fox News contributor and former New York Times reporter Judith Miller.

(1) Based on bogus intelligence.

(2) This is accurate if you consider the Knight-Ridder Washington operation “most of the media.”

(3) Such as, Just how easy will this war be?

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.