What the Times Did was Bad; What It Didn’t Do was Worse

by JON BROWN

Amid important corrections about Carole King’s high school and the spelling of a Pixar executive’s name, Times editors at last saw fit to mention the paper’s coverage of Iraq in the months preceding the war. After a modest round of self-congratulation, the editors venture into darker waters, filled with imaginary chemical and biological weapons reported, in banner type, by the Times. Now it appears the threatening shapes were without substance, hoaxes and illusions foisted upon an otherwise capable, even exemplary staff of doughty professionals who did their utmost to present "an accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at the time."

Garbage. Here is what was obvious at the time, though not at the Times. The entire discussion of WMD was a canard, a red herring, a decoy, call it what you will. Allow me to refresh the paper’s institutional memory: The inspectors, with full access, were finding no evidence of weapons stockpiles or programs; the U.S. intelligence community was dubious of claims put forward with alarming stridency by political appointees; and sources like Chalabi and the INC, the brainchild of lie factories like Rendon and Hill & Knowlton, were likely to churn out more tales of babies thrown from incubators to have their way. All of which was duly reported in the international press.

What did the Times do? In editorial after editorial, report after report, the vaunted newspaper of record framed the Iraq debate as a question of WMD, making its coverage inseparable from Bush administration propaganda. The war was never about WMD. That was obvious to all but the most cravenly stenographic of so-called journalists from the get-go. It was, to name a few, about midterm elections, military bases, crackpot imperialist ideology, Israel, payoffs to cronies, and even, though you’d never, ever guess it from the New York Times, plentiful, cheap oil. But WMD? The Times obliged not only by hanging the window dressing but by supplying fancy material.

About which the May 26 "correction" is dead silent. So let me give the Times something to put in its next mea culpa. The paper was complicit in a war of aggression that led to the death and mutilations of tens of thousands-that bears repeating, the death and mutilation of tens of thousands-mounted for stupefyingly cynical, shortsighted, vicious reasons. Its dogged refusal to stray from the Bush administration script about WMD and admit other explanations for the hell-bent rush to war into mainstream discourse is nothing less than a monumental journalistic disgrace.

What the Times did was bad enough; what it failed to do was perhaps worse. It’s past time to see a correction about that.

JON BROWN lives in New York City. He can be reached at: dogen@mindspring.com




Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks
Wendell G Bradley
Drilling for Wattenberg Oil is Not Profitable
Joy First
Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field
Mel Gurtov
China’s Insecurity
Mateo Pimentel
An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism
Yves Engler
Harper Conservatives and Abuse of Power
Michael Dickinson
Police Guns of Brixton: Another Unarmed Black Shot by London Cops
Ron Jacobs
Daydream Sunset: a Playlist
Charles R. Larson
The Beginning of the Poppy Wars: Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire”
David Yearsley
A Rising Star Over a Dark Forest
August 27, 2015
Sam Husseini
Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention
Brad Evans – Henry A. Giroux
Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman