So Noam Chomsky won the argument. Or so, in essence, says former Executive Editor of the New York Times Bill Keller. Keller admits in the MSNBC Special on the media coverage of the run up to the Iraq War that the New York Times became a propaganda arm for war interests within the government.
The Times wrote a number of really bad stories – inadequately sourced, unskeptical stories – particularly about Saddam’s weapons capabilities. And those stories were rewarded with lavish front page display.
The Times also wrote some very good stories, more skeptical stories, and those tended to be buried on page you know A13.
So there is – you know reporters respond to those sorts of incentives. So there was, at least some reporters, who went to feed that hunger for scoops.
By way of explanation for this conduct Keller offers that the Saddam WMD story was a “mainstream” view. Mainstream is who again? Oh, the New York Times. So Keller was responding to the mainstream views from the New York Times to justify reporting mainstream views in the New York Times? OK.
Presumably one of the stories or rather reporters Keller is referring to is Judith Miller. A reporter whose work appeared on the front page and was bad, inadequately sourced and, according to the reporter herself, unskpetical.
My job isn’t to assess the government’s information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers what the government thought of Iraq’s arsenal.
As Keller and Miller are surely aware, the White House has been furnished, courtesy of the taxpayers, funds which it uses to maintain a communications department that is able and willing to relay the government’s thinking on the issues of the day. If people can read a newspaper they can read a White House press release, no reporters necessary.
The Iraq War was a multisystem failure for the New York Times. Not only did reporters use questionable sources and rewrite government press releases with editors promoting “bad” stories to the front page, some of the Times’ columnists became leading war mongers. Tom Friedman and David Brooks shamelessly promoted the Iraq War free of the restraint any reporters were in theory supposed to have. The Iraq War was, in many ways, brought to you by the New York Times much to their disgrace.