Columnist Discusses McClellan Book — and Whether the Media Learned a Lesson

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By: E&P Staff

Bob Koehler wonders if the media — exposed in former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan’s new book as too easy on the Bush administration as it prepared to invade Iraq — will do better from now on.

In his Tribune Media Services column released today, Koehler began by saying wryly of McClellan: “Funny how we can’t seem to hear the truth until it’s uttered by a professional liar.”

Koehler continued: “So, OK, we have the word of an insider that Bush was a delusional egomaniac, the war was a sham from the get-go, and the media fawned and gushed and enabled when they should have … what? ‘Asked tough questions’ is hardly adequate as a description for what they should have done.

“They should (at the very least) have listened to the war’s opponents, and respectfully and in exhaustive detail presented their case against the war — correct, it turns out, on every point — to the American public before it began. They should have exercised skepticism in their pre-war coverage, yes, but even more importantly, intelligence and courage.

“Thanks to the truth window that McClellan opened, we now know, for instance, that: ‘The press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings,’ according to Jessica Yellin, who was an MSNBC reporter in 2003.”

But, “now what?,” asked Koehler. “The war on terror is in fact far more than a small president’s pipedream of historic greatness. In that it is unwinnable — with a premise no less preposterous than the eradication of evil — it is meant to be a permanent war. This is the present situation and the present danger.

“Let the media begin redeeming themselves by telling the truth about it — by rediscovering their intelligence and courage.”

Koehler’s complete column can be seen here.

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