A lot of media outlets are now scrutinizing some
of the lies told by the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq. Yet
the same news organizations are bypassing their own key roles in the marketing
of those lies. A case in point is the New York Times.
On Saturday, hours after the indictment of Lewis Libby, the lead
editorial of the Times ended by declaring that "the big point
Americans need to keep in mind is this: There were no weapons of mass destruction
in Iraq." On Sunday, Times columnist Frank
Rich referred to "Colin Powell's notorious presentation of WMD 'evidence'
to the UN on the eve of war."
And so it goes in the opinion section of the New York Times. There's
now eagerness to blast the Bush administration for some aspects of false prewar
propaganda while the newspaper continues to dodge its own crucial role
in promoting that propaganda.
Many people have become aware that news articles by Judith Miller and other
Times reporters often splashed on the front page were conduits
for the administration's deceptive claims about weapons of mass destruction
in Iraq. The New York Times has portrayed itself as a victim of misinformation,
as though a conveyor of falsehoods has scant responsibility.
But bogus news reporting was not the only way that the Times helped
to push the United States into invading Iraq. Despite its reputation as a strong
opponent of going to war, the paper's editorial voice capitulated when it was
Let's reach down into the Orwellian memory hole and retrieve what the New
York Times had to say in an editorial headlined "The Case Against
Iraq" the day after what Frank Rich now calls Colin Powell's "notorious
The Times declared that Powell "presented the United Nations and
a global television audience yesterday with the most powerful case to date that
Saddam Hussein stands in defiance of Security Council resolutions and has no
intention of revealing or surrendering whatever unconventional weapons he may
The Feb. 6, 2003, editorial by the Times also proclaimed: "President
Bush's decision to dispatch Mr. Powell to present the administration's case
before the Security Council showed a wise concern for international opinion.
Since Mr. Bush's own address to the UN last September, he has kept faith with
his commitment to work through the Security Council."
And the Times editorial gushed: "Mr. Powell's presentation was
all the more convincing because he dispensed with apocalyptic invocations of
a struggle of good and evil and focused on shaping a sober, factual case against
Mr. Hussein's regime."
For a "notorious presentation," Powell's performance at the UN got
rave review from a newspaper supposedly objecting to the momentum for
Now, while the New York Times is busily clucking at deceptive prewar
maneuvers by Dick Cheney's office, the Times refuses to own up to how
effectively the Cheney operation gained its support, from page-one stories about
WMD to editorials assisting Washington's war-makers.
Meanwhile, a distinct rhythm of drumming for a war dance is audible in the
present. Consider a statement that appeared a couple of inches under the close
of the New York Times editorial declaring on Saturday that "there
were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." In an editorial just below,
the Times flatly stated conjecture as fact: "Iran has a nuclear