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Where Are They Now? The Reporters Who Got Iraq So Wrong

World  (tags: 'CIVILLIBERTIES!', 'HUMANRIGHTS!', children, conflict, corruption, death, government, iraq, middle-east, politics, society, violence, war, world )

- 1963 days ago -
Ten years ago yesterday, Colin Powell made the Bush administration's case for going to war against Iraq. Much of what he said about Iraq's threats to the United States was false. But the media coverage gave the opposite impression, and most -->

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Kit B (276)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 2:22 pm
(Photo Colin Powell addresses UN about Iraq - photo credit: Common Dreams)

Ten years ago yesterday, Colin Powell made the Bush administration's case for going to war against Iraq. Much of what he said about Iraq's threats to the United States was false. But the media coverage gave the opposite impression, and most of the pundits and journalists who promoted the justifications for the war paid no price for their failures.

As FAIR reported at the time, even before the Powell address there were reasons to be skeptical of the administration's claims. On February 4, 2003, FAIR published "Iraq's Hidden Weapons: From Allegation to Fact," which made the point that "it has not been demonstrated that Iraq continues to hold unconventional weapons." FAIR criticized coverage like that of the New York Times (2/2/03), which asserted that "nobody seriously expected Mr. Hussein to lead inspectors to his stash of illegal poisons or rockets, or to let his scientists tell all."

As the FAIR release concluded:

"The media convey to the public the impression that the alleged banned weapons on which the Bush administration rests its case for war are known to exist, and that the question is simply whether inspectors are skillful enough to find them."

Powell's address was instrumental in pushing a faulty media line on Iraq's WMDs further. That much was clear in the coverage right after his appearance at the United Nations, as FAIR documented on February 10 in "A Failure of Skepticism in Powell Coverage."

In Andrea Mitchell's report on NBC Nightly News (2/5/03), Powell's allegations became actual capabilities of the Iraqi military: "Powell played a tape of a Mirage jet retrofitted to spray simulated anthrax, and a model of Iraq's unmanned drones, capable of spraying chemical or germ weapons within a radius of at least 550 miles."

Dan Rather, introducing an interview with Powell (60 Minutes II, 2/5/03), shifted from reporting allegations to describing allegations as facts: "Holding a vial of anthrax-like powder, Powell said Saddam might have tens of thousands of liters of anthrax. He showed how Iraqi jets could spray that anthrax and how mobile laboratories are being used to concoct new weapons." The anthrax supply is appropriately attributed as a claim by Powell, but the mobile laboratories were something that Powell "showed" to be actually operating.

Commentator William Schneider on CNN Live Today (2/6/03) dismissed the possibility that Powell could be doubted: "No one disputes the findings Powell presented at the U.N. that Iraq is essentially guilty of failing to disarm." When CNN's Paula Zahn (2/5/03) interviewed Jamie Rubin, former State Department spokesperson, she prefaced a discussion of Iraq's response to Powell's speech thusly: "You've got to understand that most Americans watching this were either probably laughing out loud or got sick to their stomach. Which was it for you?"

If you turn to FAIR's "Iraq and the Media: A Critical Timeline" (3/19/07), you see that February 6 Washington Post op-ed page had Mary McGrory writing: "I don't know how the United Nations felt about Colin Powell's 'J'accuse' speech against Saddam Hussein. I can only say that he persuaded me, and I was as tough as France to convince." She added that she "heard enough to know that Saddam Hussein, with his stockpiles of nerve gas and death-dealing chemicals, is more of a menace than I had thought."

And Richard Cohen (2/6/03) announced that the debate was over:

"The evidence he presented to the United Nations–some of it circumstantial, some of it absolutely bone-chilling in its detail–had to prove to anyone that Iraq not only hasn't accounted for its weapons of mass destruction but without a doubt still retains them. Only a fool–or possibly a Frenchman–could conclude otherwise."

Obviously, the fools and Frenchmen were correct. And as FAIR documented, independent-minded journalists were reporting that some of the administration's claims did not stand up to scrutiny. The Associated Press had a detailed look at the state of Iraq intelligence on January 18. The skepticism and good judgment of those reporters (and others) should have been the rule, not the exception, if journalists had been doing their jobs.

But most journalists did a different job. And most of them faced no consequences whatsoever for being so disastrously wrong.

By: Peter Hart | Common Dreams |


Rose Becke (141)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 4:25 pm
What do the do now? Thanks Kit

Fiona Ogilvie (565)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 5:35 pm
He had a Power Point. Power Points are always convincing. Power Points have it all: pseudo facts, clever animations, and vivid colors. Sorry, I managed to reincarnate without dying. Unfortunately, I turned into a cynic.

Angelika R (143)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 5:41 pm
..and many of the media continued with that lousy job.. (Assad's alledged chemical arsenal which "he might use if we don't stop him") etc etc

Angelika R (143)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 5:42 pm
You cannot currently send a star to Betsy because you have done so within the last week.
(same for Kit, naturally)

Kit B (276)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 5:53 pm

I think of this like the things we purchase, do not complain about the lousy reporters, turn the channel or stop the subscription. If you know the information or the reporters have a lousy track record why to continue to support them. It was never the task of the Fourth Estate to make the president's argument for him.

Angelika R (143)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 6:14 pm
By watching CNN -the ONLY US news channel I can receive- I don't think I am giving them much support. And I HAVE learned not to believe everything and how to assess and value reports.

pam w (139)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 7:01 pm
I was ashamed of Colin Powell then....still am.

Mike S (86)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 7:25 pm
Noted and thank you for the article KIt.

JL A (281)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 8:01 pm
Our corporate media has become so large it is bound to fail us time and time again.

Stephen Brian (23)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 8:48 pm
Yup, an astounding number of journalists regularly fail to do their jobs. The professional standard is not to take anything as "fact" unless it has been confirmed by two independent sources. They almost never check for real mutual independence of their sources.

That said, I should probably point out that if there were WMDs in Iraq, it is very unlikely that they would have been found. Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence.

As for where some of them are now, according to Wiki:
Andrea Mitchell: NBC News (formerly called MSNBC)

Dan Rather: Gone from CBS after producing easily verifiably false documents, he now runs Dan Rather Reports on AXSTV. The primary difference between him and the others, career-wise, is that he was caught.

Bill Schneider: CNN

Richard Cohen: Washington Post

Mary McGrory: Dead after a long and illustrious career involving a Pulitzer and multiple other awards, including an honorary degree in law..

There is no accountability.

Lin Penrose (92)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 9:13 pm
Noted, thanks for the informative post Kit. Similar to Betsy Bee, after several reincarnations of 'innocent until proven stupid' about humans, I'm now a cynic with just a little hope still glimmering.

Carrie B (306)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 9:19 pm
It's up to us to question the information we receive as much as we can. Read and research! How many of us actually believed the WMDs in Iraq story? Not many that I know of, but it was so blown up at such an incredible pace that most of the country started screaming for war and blood! Well, that's what we got ~ war and the blood of our men and women in uniform and too many innocent Iraqis.

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 10:25 pm
And how many Americans were guilty for refusing to see the truth?
Worked on the internet peace line to stop this invasion. We gather all kinds of new articles from neutral Countries and posted them online. The FACTS were ignored

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 10:27 pm
Robert Fisk being one of my favorite.

irene davis (74)
Wednesday February 6, 2013, 10:51 pm
thank you.

paul m (93)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 3:02 am

You know it was wrong,,Who found the " WMD" ? who got the Oil ? Who got all the orders for the Army ?
No wonder the U.S. is in dept.

Abdessalam Diab (145)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 5:22 am
I believe they ALL including congress men who approved this crime be taken to ICC immediately. Thanks Kit for this post.

Pogle S (88)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 5:40 am
So who were these reporters working for? Indirectly they all work for the bankers who fill their coffers with the profits of war. as Julian Assange has said "Every War in past 50 Years a Result of Media Lies" -

Pogle S (88)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 5:44 am
Have a look at this video because it explains the situation better that I can articulate it.

Arielle S (313)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 6:43 am
They sold their souls and the entire USA is still paying the price. If only we could teach the American public to question more - Is it so? Why is it? Who profits from this? What will the long term effects be? We buy into the program so easily....

Paul Wellman (1)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 1:48 pm
Thank you Kit.
The sad fact is that the Military Industrial Complex Propaganda machine is still well oiled and working and we the Sheeple are still gullible enough to buy the BS.
I wish I remembered where (maybe Moyer's & Company?) I recently saw an interview with and older and obviously seasoned diplomat talking about the current drumbeat for war in Iran. His reasoned and thoughtful call was -
countries like Iraq and now Iran when talked with told him they were not stupid enough to think they could use WMD weapons even if they had them. They realize that would be more than enough excuse for us to blow them to kingdom come and be done with it.
In my mind we are the only ones that have ever been insane enough to use nuclear weapons. The only other country with the potential is Israel.
If I was Iran I would at least want one as a possible way to deter the possibility of attack. It seemed to work for decades in the cold war.
What a world!

Morgan McDowell (4)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 2:12 pm

Mary Donnelly (47)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 2:32 pm
Thanks Kit. This is a bit like what has happened to those who were responsible for the GFC. Nothing much.

Ann Breeden (65)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 4:24 pm
I think it comes down to who benefitted from this war and who are still benefitting to this day.

Mitchell D (87)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 4:44 pm
Probably still working for Bush, or Cheney!

marie C (163)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 5:21 pm

Shirley B (5)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 6:23 pm
Amen to that, Carrie.

Craig Pittman (52)
Thursday February 7, 2013, 8:05 pm
The U.S. government lied to its citizens and to its allies to form a consensus for that war. Mainstream media failed miserably to do its job and have become pretty much a PR of the government. That said then I guess mainstream media did do its job.
Thanks for the story Kit.

Paul Wellman (1)
Friday February 8, 2013, 8:20 am
In this same vane.
How far down the rabbit hole have we gone?
Left wing or Right wing they are all nuts.
Obama acting more like a dictator than Bush?
I have followed Dr. North for decades. On this kind of stuff he hits the nail on the head.
Bravo to the New York Times!

Lois Jordan (63)
Friday February 8, 2013, 3:19 pm
Thanks, Kit...I'd send you a star, but can't since I sent one within the past week.
In answer to Paul, above...we've gone all the way down the rabbit hole, and through the looking glass.

I rarely, if ever watched cable news prior to 9/ll; but on that day, I began a few long years of studying this 24/7 news phenomenon. I clearly remember what was plastered all over cable news channels prior to the Iraq invasion....Lacy Peterson was missing. Quite a sleight of hand for our sold-out journalism. I no longer pay attention to much of it anymore, except for Rachel.
But, we did have Curveball and the Downing Street Memo, as well as a few other tidbits during that time. Unfortunately, the Administration had stuffed the mainstream news with Pentagon "mis-information pundits" to magnify the lies with their rubber-stamped talking points.

Paul Wellman (1)
Saturday February 9, 2013, 12:34 pm
I highly recommend checking out FSTV
I also get amazing insight from taking some time and checking out C-Span 2 Book TV on weekends:
They swing wildly from Left to Right and everything in between with current authors of non-fiction books.
There is great information out there you just have to dig a little!

Kamila A (141)
Sunday February 10, 2013, 4:02 pm
Colin Powell had visited CCNY, his alma mater a couple of years ago and Elie Wiesel came to speak on the same day. I curtly walked past Powell to speak with Mr. Wiesel, shake his hand and thank him greatly for his tireless peace mission. Just wanted to share that.

I am astounded by the lack of integrity of the reporters and all these heinous politicians who speak out of two sides of their mouths and think they are above it all. Where is John McCain and on this subject? He and his GOP buffoons only pick and choose their victims for private agendas not for what they were elected for whatsoever. They crucified Ms.Susan Rice for doing her job regarding Benghazi where 4 of our men were killed; but they let the other Rice, Condoleeza, off the hook without a mention of any wrong doing for wrong reporting that led to the deaths, maiming and still ongoing suffering of millions of people. Hypocrites abounding. Why is this not screamed about? Oh yeah, everyone is too busy talking about Beyonce.
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