Watchdog Blog

Gilbert Cranberg: The American Press, Guilty of Shameful Neglect

Posted at 3:56 pm, March 4th, 2010
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Ask an American audience what it knows about Britain’s’ “Chilcott Inquiry” and chances are you will draw blank looks. That’s too bad. Americans ought to be intently interested in the Chilcott inquiry, named for its chairman, senior civil servant Sir John Chilcott, because it’s likely to provide the only authoritative account they will have into the whys and wherefores of the Iraq war.

Congress is so riven by partisanship it is incapable of mounting the sort of credible probe the subject warrants. A less-than-satisfactory substitute is the 2008 study by the Senate Intelligence Committee comparing statements about Iraq by Bush administration officials with what U,S. intelligence agencies said about the same subject. Unfortunately, not everything the “intelligence community” produced was necessarily trustworthy. Nor did any of the administration officials who spoke so alarmingly about the Iraq threat make themselves available for questioning by the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In addition to the British inquiry, a Dutch investigation has added to the factual record. The Dutch Commission of Inquiry Into Iraq Decision-making issued its report in January. Among the report’s 49 conclusions: “The military action had no sound mandate under international law.” In other words, the aggression against Iraq may well have been illegal and those responsible conceivably could be open to charges of war crimes.

Apart from Iraq itself, the U.S. bore most of the cost of the conflict and suffered most of the casualties. It’s absurd then, that this country has turned a blind eye to the war’s origins while lesser players investigate them.

An investigative news site, Consortium News, recently observed, “It’s reasonable to assume that as far as the invasion of Iraq is concerned official U.S. policy is: no inquiry, no discussion of legality, no accountability.”

The press in this country, with few exceptions, did abysmally in covering the run-up to the conflict. You might expect the U.S. press to want to make amends by shedding as much light as possible on the hows and whys of the war. At the least it ought to be demanding a U.S. investigation comparable to the British and Dutch inquiries, Instead, Americans are getting from their press still more shameful neglect.

4 Responses to “The American Press, Guilty of Shameful Neglect”

  1. BlairSupporter says:


    “The press in this country, with few exceptions, did abysmally in covering the run-up to the conflict. You might expect the U.S. press to want to make amends by shedding as much light as possible on the hows and whys of the war. At the least it ought to be demanding a U.S. investigation comparable to the British and Dutch inquiries, Instead, Americans are getting from their press still more shameful neglect.”

    As opposed to what we in Britain are getting in this “Not A Trial” of Chilcot’s? The press’s settled position is that Tony Blair is a “liar and war criminal” and should be hanged or, since we do don’t (usually) DO hanging, just tried at the Hague and OBVIOUSLY found guilty and locked up for life. And for a POLITICAL decision!!!

    Utterly disgraceful behaviour here in Britain. The press has lost all of its sense of right and wrong, balance or simple fairness. And through them so have many of the British people.

    This man, the editor of The Press Gazette magazine (read by all British journalists) admits it, when taken to task over the fact that in order for Mr Blair to get ANY empathic coverage over his questioning on Iraq at the Chilcot Inquiry a private supporter paid around $3,000 out of his own pocket to advertise the unfairness of it all. STILL, even advertised on the index page at the Press Gazette’s own website, there was no mention of it by the know-all editor who makes a habit of opining on anything and everything else!

    You need to be here to se the vitriol poured on Blair daily by the idiotic and irrespnsible press in this once great country.

    Much of the reason is the general kow-towing to political correctness. Human righters here are loud, and imho, infiltrated. Binyam Mohamed has FAR more rights than British -born Blair to walk free in this country. And he is NOT a citizen.

    No wonder Blair needs extensive security. DREADFUL business.

  2. Darlene says:

    The press are now lazy showmen and women. There is never going to be accountability from this side of the pond.

    I wish Cheney had to stand trial for war crimes, because he was the lead player in the debacle that was the Iraq war and the illegal torture of prisoners. Rumsfeld, Pearl, Wolfowitz and the others should follow him. Bush, of course, is the disgraceful sycophant that went along with it all.

    If my spelling of the names is faulty, please forgive. Memory is failing me.

  3. Cricket Jones says:

    Top 10 Reasons for Shameful Neglect by the Press

    1. Lack of coordination. Imagine a football game with it’s seven officials (referees, umpires, etc) having neither a command structure nor authority to regulate the game. Suppose they blow their whistles ’til they’re blue in the face, hoping to deter players from illegal moves. This sloppy arrangement is by no means limited to the USA. All over the global village, there really is no ‘press,’ but presses, journalists, bloggers, tv reporters, infotainers. This is as unacceptable now as ever.

    2. Crying wolf. Sticking to the sports analogy, suppose referees face inconsistent penalties themselves for throwing flags toward the players — and absurdly, at the fans or other officials. If ‘the press’ wants more authority, it needs to implement a tight code of conduct. Hype, however shrill and well-intended, only goes so far. Where are the malpractice penalties? How consistently are they applied?

    3. Erratic pay. Poorly funded, there aren’t enough refs to monitor the league. At many games officials don’t show up at all. It’s more like a pick-up game that must be sloppily monitored by players, which only exacerbates oft-uneven fields of play. And corruption among officials, like at Fox or WaPo, continues unabated. Little wonder then that it does among governments, conglomerates, etc.

    4. Muddled vocabulary. Suppose ‘holding’ means X to the referee but X + 1 to the umpire. ‘Free market’ is a prime example, used by journalists favoring laissez-faire policies to mean one thing, but by journalists favoring tighter regulation to mean another. Consider again the sports analogy: it would be more straightforward for the officials to speak different languages rather than all seeming to speak English but coded in alternate semantics.

    5-10. You fill in the blanks.

    The point of this exercise is to stimulate journalists to print front page articles about cleaning up our own profession in addition to howling at all the others.

  4. Taikan says:

    Although aware of the inquiry itself, having read some of the stories about the testimony given by Blair and others, most of the articles I saw (including some on BBC online) referred to it as Britain’s “Iraq Inquiry” rather than as the “Chilcott Inquiry.” Thus, ignorance of that particular term is not necessarily such a bad thing. However, ignorance of the inquiry itself is another matter.

    The lack of significant coverage of Britain’s Iraq Inquiry in the American press and other news media likely is due to the fact that over the past few decades the American media has progressively become more and more fixated on what amounts primarily to gossip or “sensational” stories. Because Tony Blair’s testimony during the inquiry was neither sensational (he defended his decision to go to war as having been “right” despite being unable to provide a good rationale for that decision) nor “gossipy,” it didn’t get much attention in the American press/media.

    Unfortunately, television “news” shows that are full of gossip and sensationalism and that are generally devoid of in-depth reporting (much less investigative reporting) tend to have much higher numbers of viewers than news shows, such as the PBS NewsHour, that feature in-depth news coverage. At the same time, readership of newspapers and “news” magazines also has been declining. In my view, these factors indicate that the trend toward more gossip and sensationalism, and less in-depth reporting, is likely to continue rather than abate.

    This leads us to an interesting question. Is the trend towards gossip and the sensational in the American media a result of market forces (i.e., is it simply a case of the media giving the American public what it wants), or is it the result of deliberate decisions to “dumb down” the news that were not made in response to the public’s apparent desire(s)?

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