Fox News Lets Media Off The Hook For Iraq Coverage: "How Much More Skeptical Was The Press Supposed To Be?"
Marvin Kalb Replies: "You Are Setting Up The Bush Administration's Case For War In Iraq"
Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ
Fox News anchor Jon Scott let the media off the hook for their unskeptical coverage leading up to the invasion of Iraq ten years ago.
Former Meet The Press moderator Marvin Kalb, appearing on Scott's program, Happening Now, had excoriated the media earlier in the show for failing to critically examine the Bush administration's claims that Saddam Hussein had possessed weapons of mass destruction. Numerous media observers have pointed out that while some journalists pointed out at the time the flaws in the administration's case for war, the media at large did not question its claims.
But Jon Scott, who also hosts Fox News' weekly media criticism show Fox News Watch, disputed Kalb's claim that the media were complacent in the lead-up to the war. Pointing out that intelligence officials had said that Iraq possessed WMD, Scott asked, "How much more skeptical was the press supposed to be?"
Kalb replied by pointing out that Scott was "setting up the Bush administration's case," and explained that it was the media's responsibility to "stand up and say 'let's think about this before we march into war."
SCOTT: I have one for you Marvin, which has to do with the skepticism of the press. You were saying that the press should have been more skeptical. But look, you had the director of the CIA, at the time the nation's top intelligence official, saying you know, weapons of mass destruction a "slam dunk" in Iraq.
You had Saddam apparently telling his own generals that he had weapons of mass destruction, you had Colin Powell going before the U.N. General Assembly and saying, "look they've got all the parts and pieces they need to build weapons of mass destruction." How much more skeptical was the press supposed to be?
KALB: Well, you are setting up the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq, and the United States went to war in Iraq. Congress supported the President's policy on going to war, and the media supported it.
What this all adds up to however, since it didn't work out that way, was that somebody got it drastically wrong. American intelligence got it wrong, the Brits got it wrong, the Israelis got it wrong, everybody did, which means somebody in our society - and it ends up being the media - has to stand up and say "let's think about this a little bit" rather than rush into a war.
We are now at a point Jon, where an American president can determine when the United States goes to war, whether the Congress approves of it or not, we don't deal with declarations of war any longer, and so at this particular point, who other than the media ought to stand up and say "wait a minute, let's think about this"?
This is not the first time a Fox News guest has called out the network for promoting the aims of the Republican Party. National security journalist Tom Ricks blasted the network's coverage of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya during a November appearance. After saying that "Benghazi was hyped, by this network especially," Ricks went on to say that "the emphasis on Benghazi has been extremely political, partly because Fox was operating as a wing of the Republican Party."
Scott, who anchored the Ricks segment, abruptly terminated the interview following Ricks' criticism. And while those comments were widely covered as a rare example of truth cutting through the Fox News bubble, they were ignored by Scott's Fox News media criticism show.