A further exposé of media corruption in the run-up to the American invasion of Iraq. This piece has a tag line on the author: Jeff Cohen is a recovering TV pundit, founder of the media watch group FAIR, and associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College. His latest book is Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.
QUOTED EXCERPT: This is a glorious moment for the American public. We can finally see those who abandoned reporting for cheerleading and flag-waving and cheap ratings having to squirm over their role in sending other parents' kids into Iraq. I say "other parents' kids" because I never met any bigwig among those I worked with in TV news who had kids in the armed forces. Given how TV networks danced to the White House tune sung by the Roves and Fleischers and McClellans in the first years of W's reign, it's fitting that it took the words of a longtime Bush insider to force their self-examination over Iraq. Top media figures had shunned years of well-documented criticism of their Iraq failure as religiously as they shunned war critics in 2003. . . . In February 2003, there was huge mainstream media skepticism about Powell's U.N. speech . . . overseas. But U.S. TV networks banished antiwar perspectives in the crucial two weeks surrounding that error-filled speech. FAIR studied all on-camera sources on the nightly ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS newscasts: Less than 1 percent — 3 out of 393 sources — were antiwar. Only 6 percent were skeptical sources. This at a time when 60 percent of Americans in polls wanted more time for diplomacy and inspections. I worked 10-hour days inside MSNBC's newsroom during this period as senior producer of Phil Donahue's primetime show (cancelled three weeks before the war while the network's most-watched program). Trust me: too much skepticism over war claims was a punishable offense. I and all other Donahue producers were repeatedly ordered by top management to book panels that favored the pro-invasion side. I watched a fellow producer get chewed out for booking a 50-50 show. . . . I'm no defender of Scott McClellan. Some may say he has blood on his hands — and that he hasn't earned any kind of redemption. But as someone who still burns with anger over what I witnessed inside TV news during that crucial historical moment, I'm trying my best to enjoy this falling out among thieves and liars. END QUOTE