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
Friday, January 14, 2005  
No WMDs, But Everyone Gets a Mulligan
Media failures contributed to both the "60 Minutes" fiasco and going to war on false pretenses. Guess which major announcement this week will get the most ink?

By Greg Mitchell
Editor & Publisher

(January 12, 2005) -- It's only Thursday, and already it's clear that yesterday's official announcement that really, for sure -- no kidding -- there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq will get much less play in the media than the report on the “60 Minutes” fiasco released on Monday. That's odd, since the news stories share one important element: Neither was exactly a whopping surprise.

Actually, there’s something else: Neither scandal would have ever happened if journalists had done a better job at the outset.

So how did the press react this morning to closing the book on WMDs? Most major papers I've seen, with several exceptions (such as The Washington Post and The Dallas Morning News), did not play it on the front page. The New York Times ran a microscropic item on A16. It did devote an editorial to the subject, and, after mocking the White House and TV commentators, the Times acknowledged "our own failures to deconstruct all the spin and faulty intelligence." Then it went back to bashing the "fantasies of feckless intelligence analysts" and holding President Bush strictly accountable for the fact that 40% of Americans still think WMDs are there.

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