web counter Media Lies: Lying about weapons of mass destruction

Saturday, June 05, 2004

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Lying about weapons of mass destruction

The Dallas Morning News has an article today entitled Many Ask If Tenet Is The Fall Guy For Iraq (requires annoying "subscription" to read). This assumes, of course, that a fall guy is needed for Iraq, which is arguable, but since the headline expresses other people's opinions, it passes inspection.

What fails inspection in the story is the list of reasons why Tenet may have been sacked. Interestingly, the online version softens the charge. It reads:
"Continuing fallout of the prewar intelligence reports that said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was harboring chemical, biological and nuclear weapons; no such stockpiles have been found." This is correct. Stockpiles have not been found.

The print version, however, includes an inset that reads:
"Weapons of Mass Destruction: CIA Director George Tenet reportedly assured President Bush that his agency had 'slam-dunk' evidence showing Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Such weapons have not been found." This is false. Both mustard gas and sarin gas filled artillery shells were recently found in Iraq.

So why does the press keep telling this lie? Because if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes truth? (It certainly has for many people who were pre-disposed to oppose the war.)

When you think about it, it's fascinating how the press will add disclaimers when they want to and completely ignore them when they don't want to. For example, when it comes to the deaths of American troops in Iraq, the press held on, for a long time, to the disclaimer "x number of troops have died in Iraq since President Bush declared an end to combat". (Of course what he really said was major combat, and I doubt anyone would intelligently argue that the "insurgency" would be classified as "major combat".) The press used this line as a way of constantly pointing out that they believed that the President was lying or incorrect.

So why don't we see the disclaimer "Although some chemical weapons have been found, the major stockpiles that were expected have not been" or words to that effect? Because it doesn't help their cause, which is to portray the administration in the worst light possible. To keep repeating the party line as much as possible.