Dan Froomkin participated in an online WaPo chat today, talking about recent columns and the latest news. And he got a question about the Frontline Dark Side documentary from last night, that I wanted to highlight for everyone:
Plano, Tex: Love your work you are a must read every day. Watched the Frontline special yesterday. It has tons of evidence of the VP’s office manipulating intelligence data, repeating unverified intelligence reports and hiding information that did not conforme to the conclusion that the VP needed to justify the war. Given that this was used to decieve the congress and the public why isn’t the media willing to state categorically that the Administration has lied repeatedly. From what I see using the euphamisms for lie make it easier for the administration to justify the war and its outcome. Whereas if we called these guys on their lies it might make the the debate on the war proceed to the next level. Explicitly holding people accountable would probably mean a change in players and a new approach to the war itself. Right now with the same players all we seem to get is CYA
Dan Froomkin: Thanks. You’re referring to "The Dark Side," the PBS Frontline documentary that aired last night. They’ve also got supplemental material on their Web site . I thought it was a good show. Nothing particularly revelatory for those of us who have been watching closely, but it did a good job of putting in context what’s so wrong about going public with unvetted (and in many cases utterly spurious) intelligence. You can get yourself and your country in real trouble that way.
Also, to see former CIA officer Paul Pillar so sincerely express regret for his role in the writing of the Iraq NIE was very powerful. His piece for NiemanWatchdog.org, advising the press not to get fooled again the next time policymakers abuse intelligence, becomes particularly poignant.
On the issue of lying, I wrote a column a while back about how hard it is for journalists to use that word: I called it Bush’s Lie. Journalists couldn’t bring themselves to use the word even after something as straightforward as Bush lying about John Snow’s future.
Columbia University professor and press critic Todd Gitlin addresses this issue in the American Prospect, in his review of Eric Boehlert’s new book, "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."
Journalists behave this way, Gitlin writes, because: "To be oppositional — to call a falsehood a falsehood — would ill-comport with the absurd standard of fairness that guarantees, in their eyes, their professional status."
But guess what? The American public is way ahead of the media on this one. As I wrote on Feb. 3 — It’s the Credibility, Stupid — and it had been the case for a while before that — most Americans don’t find Bush honest and trustworthy, and most feel the administration inentionally misled the public in making the case for war.
I guess they just read between the lines, God bless ‘em.
That said, the lines should tell the real story, too.
I’ve been trying to find any mention of the Frontline documentary on the television news and/or in print, other than by Froomkin. Anyone find/see anything as yet? If so, please share in the comments.
Oh, and Froomkin’s White House Briefing column is great today as well. Who knew Safavian worked in the White House? *cough* (Yeah, that was snide, but I’m feeling a little snide today as we attempt nap 2.0…)
PS — Forgot to update on Jane’s mom — she’s out of the ICU now, had a little rough patch yesterday evening, but is holding her own as of early this afternoon. Please keep Jane, her mom and her family in thoughts and prayers, and we’ll keep things going as best we can for a while longer as Jane survives on bad hospital coffee and cafeteria food.