In the wake of the recent publication of Scott McClellan’s memoirs I
was inspired to revisit a recent interview I had with Phil Donahue. He
had just finished an early screening of his new documentary Body of War. The film
follows the story of injured soldier, Tomas Young, who returned home,
paralyzed, after five days in Iraq. He enlisted three days after
September 11, 2001–believing he would deploy to Afghanistan. I couldn’t
get the back story of Donahue’s film out of my mind as I listen to
McClellan repeatedly question the passivity of the press during a time
he, admittedly, promoted the agenda to engage militarily with Iraq.
Donahue’s backstory involves personal and professional loss due the
fact he was just the sort of journalist that McClellan now inquires of
his whereabouts. He was fired. MSNBC, in the weeks leading up to the
invasion of Iraq, famously, released Mr. Donahue from his prime time
talk show for voicing criticisms about what was becoming an inevitable
war with Iraq. He also invited guests, who were not in favor of the war,
to speak on his show. The tone was being set, very publicly, that if
you (as a journalist or someone with access to an audience and a
microphone) had questions or a dissenting perspective-there were plenty
of things to fear.
To read more about Donahue’s film Body of War check out John Nichols’ article
which explores the film and its makers in great depth.
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