Bill Moyers is not the first American to ask with regard to the media coverage of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq: “How did the mainstream press get it so wrong?”
The man who has been a White House press secretary, newspaper publisher, author and television news program host is not alone in wondering: “How did the evidence disputing (Bush administration claims and intimations regarding) the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the link between Saddam Hussein to 9-11 continue to go largely unreported?”
But Moyers has done something that most Americans have not had the time, the resources or the contacts to do, and that is answer the fundamental questions about the failure of print, broadcast and cable news outlets to cut through the spin and give the American people the truth about the Bush administration’s unwarranted rush to war.
“What the conservative media did was easy to fathom; they had been cheerleaders for the White House from the beginning and were simply continuing to rally the public behind the President — no questions asked,” explains Moyers. “How mainstream journalists suspended skepticism and scrutiny remains an issue of significance that the media has not satisfactorily explored. How the administration marketed the war to the American people has been well covered, but critical questions remain: How and why did the press buy it, and what does it say about the role of journalists in helping the public sort out fact from propaganda?”
These and the premises and purposes of a remarkable new documentary, “Buying the War,” which explores the role of the press in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The 90-minute program, which airs Wednesday, April 25, on PBS channels across the country is the special premiere of the new weekly series, “Bill Moyers Journal.”
After Wednesday night’s premiere, Moyers will return to PBS on the Friday night schedule where he was resident for a number of years as the host of “NOW with Bill Moyers.” And, just as he did before leaving “NOW” several years ago, at a time when President Bush’s allies and appointees were attacking him for giving air time to administration critics – including Republicans such as Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel – Moyers is still practicing the craft of journalism in the manner intended by the rebels against empire who wrote a “freedom of the press” protection into America’s founding document.