Commentary and links relating to media coverage of war; both before, during, and after.

William A. Dorman is Professor of Government at California State University, Sacramento, and has taught a course in War, Peace and the Mass Media since 1970.

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War, Peace, and the Mass Media
Wednesday, March 31, 2004  
Reporter Apologizes for Iraq Coverage

By E&P Staff
Editor & Publisher
March 29, 2004

NEW YORK In the wake of Richard Clarke's dramatic personal apology to the families of 9/11 victims last week -- on behalf of himself and his government -- for failing to prevent the terrorist attacks, one might expect at least a few mea culpas related to the release of false information on the Iraq threat before and after the war.

While the major media, from The New York Times on down, has largely remained silent about their own failings in this area, a young columnist for a small paper in Fredericksburg, Va., has stepped forward.

"The media are finished with their big blowouts on the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and there is one thing they forgot to say: We're sorry," Rick Mercier wrote, in a column published Sunday in The Free Lance-Star.

To read the rest of the story, see Editor & Publisher

7:42 AM

Tuesday, March 30, 2004  
The Editorial Pages and the Case for War
Did Our Leading Newspapers Set Too Low a Bar for a Preemptive Attack?

Columbia Journalism Review
March/April 2004

Blog editor's note: This CJR study of elite newspaper editorial treatment of Sec. of State Colin Powell's appearance before the U.N. in the month before the Iraq War is an insightful look at how the press can pave the way for war. To view other interesting perspectives on the news media and Iraq, click on the "home" button and then on the "current issue" button.

On February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered his now infamous presentation to the United Nations concerning Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and its ties to the al Qaeda terrorist network. At the time, many journalists, members of Congress, and key Security Council nations remained unconvinced of the necessity of invading Iraq. Laced with declassified satellite imagery, communications intercepts, and information gleaned from Iraqi defectors, Powell’s speech sought to bolster the Bush administration’s case for war by demonstrating an “accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behavior” on Iraq’s part. And it enjoyed a strikingly warm reception from one key U.S. audience: the editorial page writers of major newspapers.

“Irrefutable,” declared The Washington Post. Powell “may not have produced a ‘smoking gun,’” added The New York Times, but his speech left “little question that Mr. Hussein had tried hard to conceal one.” Similar assessments came from four other editorial pages that cjr chose to examine — the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal. Many foreign papers viewed Powell’s presentation more skeptically, but the endorsements from these six leading domestic editorial boards — four of which would ultimately support the war — strengthened Bush’s hand considerably. “If and when the administration gets editorial support from the elite media, it’s just about a done deal, because the public will fall in line,” says David Domke, a professor of communication at the University of Washington in Seattle who has studied editorial page response to 9/11 and the Iraq war.

To read the rest of the article, see Columbia Journalism Review

3:41 PM

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