It’s been half a month since this story appeared in the Sunday London Times, breaking the news that Times reporters had been provided with a memo detailing pre-war discussions of the Iraq situation among senior British officials. Today, the White Houses’s issued its first vague refutation of the information contained in the memo: that the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq long before presenting its case to the United Nations, and planned to manipulate intelligence data to create a more plausible case for war. Despite the fact that the memo’s validity remains undisputed by British sources, the Bush administration continues to repeat the party line: that the case for war was air-tight to the best of the administration’s understanding, and no decision was made until the intelligence was revealed (of course, we all know the sterling quality of the intelligence that the administration collected).
The memo- discussed in detail here– provides clear evidence that the Bush administration mislead the UN and the public about its decision making process. However, the American public could be forgiven for pleading ignorance of this fact. The response to the memo from the American media has been entirely underwhelming. Outside of a single article on Salon, no mention of the memo seems to have appeared in the American press for nearly a week. Only during the past four or five days have mentions of the memo began to appear in major national news outlets. Not exactly a front page media blitz.
Why has the media spent more time on the travails of one Georgian woman then they have on definitive evidence that the Bush administration lied or mislead the public in the drive to an ill-considered war? For years, the role of Matt Drudge in breaking the Lewinsky ‘scandal’ has been touted as evidence of the media’s liberal bias. What does it reveal about our media when they drop the ball on a story of incomparably greater significance that reflects poorly on a conservative president? It goes well beyond any allegation of a simple ideological bias, and opens the door to accusations of systemic incompetence at best, or corruption at worst.