Monday, April 30, 2007

Buying the War: how did the mainstream media get it so wrong?

My take on seeing Buying the War? What's yours? Go to the Moyers Blog and see the post show comments as well. Post or comment here.

We had to see it a few days later because of committments, but it was wonderful and disheartening at the same time. It used to be a reporter's mission to raise questions, seek other sources to confirm, but only the Knight-Ridder service reporters and editors did that when the country most needed it. The fact that their stories were not picked up by mainstream media allowed those in power to misuse that power.

Two things come to mind: 1) I talked to a friend back then about not having enough evidence to go to war, my friend said "This is America. We have a free press and no one will be able to escape that scrutiny." I, who had access to smaller papers, said there are some stories saying the evidence is not real. He said, "They're not in the [New York] Times or Washington Post. What's to worry? The press will look out for us."

2) As an instructor of online research I've often asked two questions of first time students, "Should you believe anything you see on the screen? and Do you know the difference between the key words you are searching for and the relevance of what they mean on the webpage on which you've found them?" I used to joke that it was a good thing people running the country don't cherrypick their research the way you do in your first papers.

I don't make that joke anymore. I wish they hadn't turned it into a joke either,

Thanks, Bill Moyers, Jonathan Landay, and Warren Strobel.

From Moyers Talker Bill T.

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