Media Consensus: Stay in Iraq!

The lead-up to the invasion of Iraq has become notorious in the annals of American journalism. Even many reporters, editors and commentators who fueled the drive to war in 2002 and early 2003 now acknowledge that major media routinely tossed real journalism out the window in favor of boosting war.

But it’s happening again.

The current media travesty is a drumbeat for the idea that the U.S. war effort must keep going. And again, in its news coverage, the New York Times is a bellwether for the latest media parade to the cadence of the warfare state.

During the run-up to the invasion, news stories repeatedly told about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction while the Times and other key media outlets insisted that their coverage was factually reliable. Now the same media outlets insist that their coverage is analytically reliable.

Instead of authoritative media information about aluminum tubes and mobile weapons labs, we’re now getting authoritative media illumination of why a swift pullout of U.S. troops isn’t realistic or desirable. The result is similar to what was happening four years ago — a huge betrayal of journalistic responsibility.

The WMD spin was in sync with official sources and other establishment-sanctified experts, named and unnamed. The anti-pullout spin is in sync with official sources and other establishment-sanctified experts, named and unnamed.

During the weeks since the midterm election, the New York Times news coverage of Iraq policy options has often been heavy-handed, with carefully selective sourcing for prefab conclusions. Already infamous is the Nov. 15 front-page story by Michael Gordon under the headline “Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say.” A similar technique was at play Dec. 1 with yet another “News Analysis,” this time by reporter David Sanger, headlined “The Only Consensus on Iraq: Nobody’s Leaving Right Now.”

Typically, in such reportage, the sources harmonizing with the media outlet’s analysis are chosen from the cast of political characters who helped drag the United States into making war on Iraq in the first place.

What’s now going on in mainline news media is some kind of repetition compulsion. And, while media professionals engage in yet another round of conformist opportunism, many people will pay with their lives.

With so many prominent American journalists navigating their stories by the lights of big Washington stars, it’s not surprising that so much of the news coverage looks at what happens in Iraq through the lens of the significance for American power.

Viewing the horrors of present-day Iraq with star-spangled eyes, New York Times reporters John Burns and Kirk Semple wrote — in the lead sentence of a front-page “News Analysis” on Nov. 29 — that “American military and political leverage in Iraq has fallen sharply.”

The second paragraph of the Baghdad-datelined article reported: “American fortunes here are ever more dependent on feuding Iraqis who seem, at times, almost heedless to American appeals.”

The third paragraph reported: “It is not clear that the United States can gain new traction in Iraq…”

And so it goes — with U.S. media obsessively focused on such concerns as “American military and political leverage,” “American fortunes” and whether “the United States can gain new traction in Iraq.”

With that kind of worldview, no wonder so much news coverage is serving nationalism instead of journalism.

NORMAN SOLOMON is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.




More articles by:

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It