McClatchy Reporters Answer Questions Online After Moyers’ PBS Report on Press and Iraq

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By: E&P Staff

Among the few journalistic heroes in Bill Moyers’ scathing “Buying the War” PBS special on the press and Iraq on Wednesday night were McClatchy — formerly Knight Ridder — reporters Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay.

They have long been hailed (at E&P and elsewhere) for writing articles in 2002 and 2003 that were far more skeptical about the administration’s case for war than most that appeared elsewhere. So it seemed fitting, if a bit unusual, for them to be enlisted to answer viewers’ questions at pbs.org immediately after the program aired.

Viewers posted comments and waited for the two reporters to respond. Within a half hour there were more than 300 queries submitted.

One of the first viewer postings was: “I just want to start by thanking you both for staying true to your profession. If I may ask: it seems important that this program reach a broad portion of the American public. For obvious reasons, that may be difficult. How can real journalism reach the public when so many obstacles are present?”

Then there was the slightly offbeat: “Without getting all too conspiratorial, I have to ask if the sale of Knight-Ridder might have been spurred by efforts to silence your reporting?”

And the angry: “I hope the ghosts of every single person killed in Iraq haunts for the rest of thier lives, all those who were too lazy or too afraid to speak up, who could have made a difference in preventing such a disgusting tragedy.”

The earnest: “Thank you so much for all of your contriubtions and for this program. I’m a current journalism student and my question therefore is always how can a similar catastrophe in journalistic integrity be prevented in the future?”

And the indignant: “Why is this the first time we have heard of you guys? Aren’t you two upset that no one listened? What did you two do to cope with that?”

Then there was the poignant: “I need to know where I can find a Knight Ridder Newspaper. Please e mail me I live in Peoria IL.”

And: “Thank you for this report. I am a Marine recently returned from Iraq and I am dedicated to supporting and defending the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see your report dedicated to spreading the truth. I will never stop fighting to save our Constitution and our country. It starts with finding the truth.”

For many more comments, and the reporters’ replies to some of them, go to www.pbs.org. The show itself, a transcript and a timeline of press stories and TV reporters are also there.












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