This is the opening paragraph for a book review that will appear in the June 24 issue of the New York Review of Books, titled ‘Unfit to Print?’ It’s written by Michael Massing.
“Buried deep in Bob Woodward’s new book, Plan of Attack, is a revealing anecdote about how the press covered the runup to the war in Iraq. By mid-March 2003, Woodward writes, three separate sources had told him confidentially that the intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction “was not as conclusive as the CIA and the administration had suggested.” This, he notes, “was troubling, particularly on what seemed to be the eve of war.” When he mentioned this to Walter Pincus, a colleague at The Washington Post, Pincus told him that he had heard “precisely the same thing” from some of his sources.”
The review states that Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack “contains much information that, if disclosed in “real time,” could have had an effect on the course of events.” However, writes Massing, “Woodward was clearly free to reveal the doubts that some senior officials had expressed to him regarding the White House’s claims about Iraq’s arsenal. That he ultimately decided not to do so seems further evidence of the reluctance of the Post as well as other news organizations to challenge the administration’s case for war.”
This is a fascinating article to say the least. I would sure love to hear what you think about it. The most startling fact that the article reveals is that the New York Times knew much more than they reported about the data and events leading up to the war. In fact, on May 26, they wrote a remarkable letter to their readers in which they basically confessed that paper’s pre-war coverage “was not as rigorous as it should have been.” Massing writes: “According to the note, which appeared at the bottom of page A10, accounts of Iraqi defectors were not analyzed with sufficient skepticism, and “articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display” while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question “were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all.”