All the pro-war news that fits, we print

William Greider on the Washington Post as Bush enabler:

We read numerous accounts of the blitzkrieg strategy Washington is devising for Baghdad, but odd little omissions occurred. When Osama’s taped message surfaced recently, the Post story neglected to mention that the Al Qaeda leader also denounced Saddam as being among the “infidels.” When prominent figures like Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright or retired Gen. Anthony Zinni dissented from going to war, it was treated as no big deal. Despite some honorable exceptions, major media generally went limp on the march to war. The Post went star-spangled.

The shortage of critical challenges from the press (and from intimidated Democrats) assisted the manipulation of public thinking. By relentless repetition, Bush and his team accomplished an audacious feat of propaganda — persuading many Americans to redirect the emotional wounds left by 9/11, their hurt and anger, away from the perpetrators to a different adversary. According to a New York Times-CBS News survey, 42 percent now believe Saddam Hussein was personally responsible for the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In an ABC News poll, 55 percent believe Saddam provides direct support to Al Qaeda. The Iraqi did it, let’s go get him. As a bogus rallying cry, “Remember 9/11” ranks with “Remember the Maine” of 1898 for war with Spain or the Gulf of Tonkin resolution of 1964 for justifying the US escalation in Vietnam.

In the past month or so, however, my impression (shared by others) is that the Post’s news coverage has toughened considerably — beginning to puncture various propaganda claims and to explore contradictions that might better have been examined long ago. The editors and reporters may have been shaken by the unanticipated public outrage, including from their own readers. The newspaper’s omissions, distortions and casual disparagement of antiwar protests were prompting waves of e-mail objections. “It is tunnel-vision coverage like yours,” one message complained, “that scares off people in mainstream America who are against the war but can’t relate to the picture you painted of its opposition.”

Read the whole thing.