Bill Press became the latest Democrat to buy into the idea that “the media, in large part, gave us this war” by being Bush’s lapdogs, etc., etc. Here’s the video:
Could the media have done a better job throwing doubt upon the conviction, shared by all the world’s intelligence agencies, that Saddam Hussein had active WMD programs? Probably, if news organizations like McClatchy (then Knight Ridder) and other openly antiwar journalists who were questioning the intelligence had had a larger voice in the public debate. I wish they had. It would have forced supporters of regime change to rely less on the WMD argument and more on the unsustainability of our then-policy toward Iraq.
For instance: As David Kay discovered after the invasion, Hussein was simply biding his time, waiting for the right moment to resume dozens of weapons programs he never truly abandoned. Claudia Rosett’s reporting showed that the oil-for-food program was rotten and that containment of Saddam was doomed to failure. And pre-invasion U.S. Iraq policy – the no-fly zones, the military bases protecting Saudi Arabia, the economic sanctions – were front and center in Osama bin Laden’s 1996 declaration of war against America. The status quo gave us 9/11.
But the point that Press, Bill Moyers, and others making this argument obfuscate is that no one, including the press, could have ascertained the true nature of Iraq’s WMD programs. Hussein was deliberately deceptive about them, in direct violation of UN resolution 1441. At best, the press could have cast a little more doubt on the administration’s assertions. That probably would have been good for everybody. But it would not have stopped the war. (h/t to Tim Graham, who makes some other points about this exchange worth noting)