Last October, The New York Times ran a story about the effects of abandoned chemical weapons in Iraq from a program that was abandoned in the early 90s, and so had nothing to do with Bush Administration WMD accusations that were used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. However, the “Paper of Record” (which played such a large role deceiving the public in the run-up to the Iraq War) gave the article a headline that read, “The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons,” and that did not give any indication when the weapons were abandoned. This deceptiveness was compounded when the massively popular conservative news aggregation web site The Drudge Report linked to the story with a huge, top-level, even more deceptive headline that read, “NYT: PENTAGON HUSHED IRAQ’S USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS.”
That was all it took for confirmation bias to take over, as conservatives all across the country leapt on the deceptive headlines (of course, not bothering to read the actual article) as a permanent talking point for claiming that it was right to invade Iraq all along, since Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction after all.
And now, three months later, we see the fruits of that deception. RT today reported on a new survey conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind that found that, “4 in 10 Americans erroneously believe US found active WMDs in Iraq.”
“PublicMind noted that the discovery of degraded chemical weapons in Iraq – likely leftover materials from a program that ended in the early 1990s – might explain some confusion. The presence of these weapons was first reported in October 2014.”
Of course, it wasn’t the “discovery” itself that caused the confusion, but, once again, shoddy, unprofessional, and irresponsible (if not downright mendacious) journalism.