As you may have noticed—or rather, not noticed—few in the media paid any attention to last week's 11th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, an event which had, oh, a few consequences. This seemed especially odd, and revealing, since US vets are still dying from their wounds and brain injuries and committing suicide in still growing numbers—not to mention the continuing toll in Iraq (more bombings killing dozens seemingly to mark the anniversary).
Last year on the 10th anniversary there was a good deal of coverage, which I guess we can't expect for any year that doesn't end in zero (see: Hiroshima). But still: almost no coverage or probing or re-capping at all? Perhaps the media are rightly still embarrassed by their performance in the run-up to the war, which helped make it possible…inevitable.
That makes it all the more important for them to re-visit their massive failures, especially with new calls for US intervention abroad. Consider how close we came to bombing Syria (or more) just a few months back, based on sketchy evidence, and calls from "liberal hawks" like Keller and Kristof to take military action there. And now: Crimea and the Ukraine. Maybe: Iran (still).
That's why I like the idea proposed elsewhere of naming the anniversary of our invasion of Iraq, March 20, henceforth as "Media Atonement Day." Well, I've tried to do my part by posting about 20 stories, items and videos here in the past ten days or at my Pressing Issues blog.
Will Media Atonement Day happen? Don't bet on it. To illustrate, let me direct you to a piece written by the great Charles P. Pierce exactly one year ago. This followed a controversy over the Washington Post killing a piece they had assigned to me, reviewing media missteps in the run-up to the Iraq war and any later mea culpas. A couple of excerpts from his rant:
Before we begun, let us partially immunize ourselves with a dose of The Washington Post, the largest and deadliest blight ever to afflict elite political journalism. Last week, apparently, they engaged Greg Mitchell of The Nation to write a piece analyzing the performance of the elite political media in the run-up to the Iraq debacle. (The Post has spent the years since helping to launch the disaster giving jobs to a lot of the people behind it, including word-'ho Michael Gerson and torture-porn enthusiast Marc Thiessen.) Mitchell turned in the piece and it was killed by the Post, a formerly great newspaper now sucking hind tit on the lucrative scam that is the educational-testing industry. However, the Post did run another piece arguing that elite political journalism did not suck as much pondwater as it has been accused of sucking….
These are the people who publish Thiessen on torture, George Effing Will's experiments with climate-change denialism, and Michael Gerson on anything. These are people who will publish any prominent conservative who can find a crayon. Here's my broader analytical point — everyone associated with The Washington Post editorial page — and a lot of the executives on the news side, especially the ones that buried Walter Pincus's great work back on A13 — are complicit in hundreds of thousands of deaths, and they should all have their heads shaved, the phrase "I fked up the world" tattooed on their scalps, and sent off to work in the wards at Walter Reed until they collapse from exhaustion. My insights are fairly well summed up by the phrase, "Shut the fk up forever."
But it's never too late to catch up with how the war happened and proceeded, and the media failtures, via my book, So Wrong for So Long.
Greg Mitchell’s latest book, published today, is When Hollywood Moved Left: The Election Campaign That Changed Politics in Film Forever. His new edition of So Wrong for So Long includes a preface by Bruce Springsteen, a new introduction and a lengthy afterword with updates.