The War in Iraq and Why the Media Failed Us

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Polls show that a sizeable portion of the American population believes that troops found WMD in Iraq and that Saddam Hussein was somehow responsible for the attacks of September 11. Even after the 9/11 Commission Report and numerous other reports have concluded that our intelligence was flawed, people in the freest nation on earth continue to be misinformed about something that could not be more vital to understand—the reasons for sending troops into harm's way. This insightful analysis argues that the media should have done a better job of performing its traditional role of skeptic and watchdog, and it examines what went wrong.

There are, of course, many people whose support for going to war in Iraq was not contingent on the existence of WMD or a connection to al-Qaeda. But many others based their support for the war on misinformation. Dadge explores why the media did not aggressively investigate the claims made by the administration and intelligence agencies; in short, why they did not do their job: to fully inform the citizenry to the best of their ability. He examines pressures from the Bush administration, pressures from corporate consolidation of media ownership, patriotism and self-censorship, and other factors. He concludes with recommendations for ways in which the media can improve their reporting on government.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is perhaps a truism to note that the Bush administration's greatest domestic ally in his effort to invade Iraq was the US media, which consistently failed to question even the most outrageous and, often, demonstrably false assertions and insinuations about the danger posed by Saddam Hussein coming from administration figures and their congressional supporters. In addition to documenting this miserable performance, Dadge explores some of the explanations for the media's behavior, including media corporate consolidation, government pressure, and patriotic self-censorship stemming from the 9-11 attacks. In the end, he somewhat surprisingly concludes that the media is capable of reforming itself, so long as it develops a new skepticism towards government and supports editorial independence."


Reference & Research Book News

"Also author of Casualty of War: The Bush Administration's Assault on a Free Press (CH, Sep'02, 41-0601), Dadge (International Press Institute, Vienna) here faults US media for failure to report the facts of the Iraq war. Supporting his argument with an imposing array of data, the author cites as mitigating reasons for this inept performance jingoistic patriotism, self-censorship, subtle pressures from the Bush administration, and an inability to confirm intelligence information. The bottom line: the Fourth Estate failed in its fundamental role to inform the American people fully and fairly of the facts of the nation's venture into invasion and war. Dadge points out that the press has been derelict before—in the Spanish-American War, WW I, and Korea—but he argues that never before has an administration managed to control news on such a scale. The efforts of the Bush ideologues were abetted by the press itself, which was muted by self-inflicted credibility problems and timidity to voice dissent and criticism. The author's prescription for improvement: the media must adopt a new skepticism for government and return to journalism's basic tenets, independence and accountability. Otherwise, a growing public apathy will further erode First Amendment rights in the US. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."



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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275987664
  • Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/30/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

DAVID DADGE is Editor of the International Press Institute in Vienna and author of Casualty of War: The Bush Administration's Assault on a Free Press (2004).

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Table of Contents

1 The road to awe 5
2 When president bites "watchdog" 25
3 Dissent and patriotism : the arm's length principle 41
4 All quiet on the home front 61
5 The prison, the general, and the flexible broadcaster 79
6 Concentrating on bias 97
7 Mea Pulpa 113
8 Reintroducing the skeptic's test 125
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