Seven years ago—that is, an appalling five full years after the US invasion of Iraq—the first major TV special hitting the press performance appeared. No surprise, it came from Bill Moyers, on PBS, in April 2007.
Here’s how I wrote ahout it at the time, as drawn from the updated edition of my book on media malpractice and the war (which was hailed by Moyers). When I appeared on Moyers’s show about a week before Baghdad fell in 2003, we were among the few to raise serious questions about what might happen after our “victory” in Iraq.
Here's link for full video of the landmark Moyers program on media in 2007.
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The most powerful indictment of the news media for falling down in its duties in the run-up to the war in Iraq will appear on April 25, a 90-minute PBS broadcast called “Buying the War,” which marks the return of “Bill Moyers Journal.” While much of the evidence of the media’s role as cheerleaders for the war presented here is not new, it is skillfully assembled, with many fresh quotes from interviews (with the likes of Tim Russert and Walter Pincus) along with numerous embarrassing examples of past statements by journalists and pundits that proved grossly misleading or wrong. Several prominent media figures, prodded by Moyers, admit the media failed miserably, though few take personal responsibility.
The war continues today, now in its fifth year, with the death toll for Americans and Iraqis rising again—yet Moyers points out, “the press has yet to come to terms with its role in enabling the Bush Administration to go to war on false pretenses.”
Among the few heroes of this devastating film are reporters with the Knight Ridder/McClatchy bureau in D.C. Tragically late, Walter Isaacson, who headed CNN, observes, “The people at Knight Ridder were calling the colonels and the lieutenants and the people in the CIA and finding out, you know, that the intelligence is not very good. We should’ve all been doing that.”
At the close, Moyers mentions some of the chief proponents of the war who refused to speak to him for this program, including Thomas Friedman, Bill Kristol, Roger Ailes, Charles Krauthammer, Judith Miller, and William Safire. But Dan Rather, the former CBS anchor, admits, “I don’t think there is any excuse for, you know, my performance and the performance of the press in general in the roll up to the war. We didn’t dig enough. And we shouldn’t have been fooled in this way.”