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Buying the War

Fri, May 4th, 2007
Posted in Commentary

Bill Moyers calls himself a "citizen journalist."

He is also an ordained Baptist minister, one-time aid to President Lyndon Johnson and, of course, a journalist with PBS.

Moyers is first and foremost a seeker of truth. That he works for us "citizens" today is a privilege that we are not accustomed to as of late. And I say this sad-hearted in the understanding that the media has failed the public so woefully as it relates to the Iraq War.

For those of you who caught the Bill Moyers Journal program on PBS, Buying the War, on Wednesday, April 25, you were able to see how the Bush administration was able to pull the wool over the eyes of a willing media, all too eager to support the War on Terror following the events of 9/11.

"Four years after shock-and-awe, the press has yet to come to terms with its role in enabling the Bush administration to go to war on false pretenses," Moyer said in the 90 minute documentary.

The program peeled the proverbial onion of events, layer by layer, to disclose how the Vice-President's office was able to manipulate a small group of Beltway journalists, first by giving them access to, supposedly, selective information and then later using the reporters own articles as verification that the information was objective and true.

Buying the War showed Cheney on a Sunday talk show saying "there was an article in this morning's New York Times." He didn't say that the source of the information the reporter was quoting came from his office. That same day, on other programs, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice were saying the same thing - about that article in the New York Times - giving weight to the idea that the intelligence on Iraq was indisputable.

This was followed by the conservative opinionators, the Bill O'Reilly's and the George Wills and the Rush Limbaugh's beating the war drums.

Moyers showed O'Reilly criticizing protestors who opposed going to war with Iraq, calling them "not good Americans." This on Fox News, the television company owned by Rupert Murdoch. Back in the '90s when I was in Hong Kong, Murdoch pulled the BBC from his Star TV satellite system in China rather than irritate the Chinese, who preferred knowing what the news was in advance of airing it. Now he's buying the Wall Street Journal.

Fox TV manufactures its news to serve a gullible public who like their information spoon-fed to them. But Fox wasn't the only guilty party. All of your major newspapers including the Washington Post and television companies like NBC failed us on Iraq, peddling the administration line on Saddam's WMDs and nuclear capability.

The only journalists who were worth their salt were at Knight Ridder who sought out their own news sources and checked the facts.

A poignant point in the documentary occurred when a Knight Ridder journalist asked a scientist about whether what Cheney was saying about Saddam's ability to go nuclear had any validity.

"The Vice-President is lying," the scientist told the reporter, saying it would take years for Iraq to have any nuclear capability.

Buying the War found the Bush Administration guilty of propagandizing information to serve a prescribed outcome. It also found the Fourth Estate, a free and neutral press, which is an essential component of democracy, equally culpable.

"The American number of troops killed in Iraq now exceeds the number of victims of 9/11. We have been fighting there longer than it took us to defeat the Nazis in World War II. The costs of the war are reckoned at one trillion dollars and continuing," Moyers said at the end of the documentary.

There is a bumper sticker on a car in Preston that says: "When Clinton lied no one died."

Unfortunately for all of us, this time the lie was perpetuated by the very body that is there to find the truth.

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