[Iraq Run-up, Media]
The Right on the Times
As I sift through the mass of content the right-wing generated in support of the Iraq invasion, I'm seeing an interesting meme: they despised the Times coverage. This is odd, because the left was busy excoriating the Times then, too. Once difference? The right was going after the editorial page, while the left was hammering the lame (and now discredited) Judith Miller pieces on the front page which cast White House propaganda as "news." Listen to Andrew Sullivan ten days before the war:
THE NEW YORK TIMES SHOWS ITS CARDS: Finally, after weeks of tortued, incoherent, meandering opportunism, the editors of the New York Times have come to their finger-in-the wind conclusion. No war against Saddam. Here's their reasoning:
[A] far larger and more aggressive inspection program, backed by a firm and united Security Council, could keep a permanent lid on Iraq's weapons program. By adding hundreds of additional inspectors, using the threat of force to give them a free hand and maintaining the option of attacking Iraq if it tries to shake free of a smothering inspection program, the United States could obtain much of what it was originally hoping to achieve. Mr. Hussein would now be likely to accept such an intrusive U.N. operation. Had Mr. Bush managed the showdown with Iraq in a more measured manner, he would now be in a position to rally the U.N. behind that bigger, tougher inspection program, declare victory and take most of the troops home.Let's unpack that paean to wishful thinking. At bottom, the Times editors believe Hans Blix rather than Colin Powell. They believe that what Saddam is doing - dismantling a few al Samoud missiles - is real progress. They believe the inspections are working in getting Saddam to disarm his chemical, biological and potentially nuclear weapons. And they think that a few hundred more inspectors would finish him off. Well, not quite. They think the threat of force is also a necessary complement to the U.N.'s almighty suasive power.
- 2:22:21 PM
So beneath contempt was the argument that he didn't even bother to refute it. Just laying it out in what Sully believed was its ideological insanity was adequate. Except, of course, that it was Sully, not the Times, who was blinded by ideology (he's since recanted and calls the invasion a mistake).
Interesting to see how much the Times was in discussion during those days. I would have hated to be in the newsroom--they were taking it from all sides. But on balance, the Times did oppose the war, even while allowing Judy to submit bogus stories. The Post, meanwhile, supported the war but had the best critical wartime reporting on its news side.