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So Wrong for So Long : How the Press, the Pundits--and the President--Failed on Iraq
In early 2003, Greg Mitchell was one of the few mainstream journalists to seriously question the stated reasons for invading Iraq. In the years since, he has repeatedly challenged the media to probe the conduct of the war and its toll on our troops. Now, after five years of war, he traces the conflict -- from the "runup" to the "surge" -- and the media's coverage of it, in this important collection of commentaries with significant new additions: an original introduction and dozens of pages of fresh material that unify the essays.
If a free press is the watchdog of democracy, then Greg Mitchell must be the watchdog of the watchdogs, tracking the performance of the media at Editor & Publisher, the influential magazine of the newspaper industry. Over the past five years, in his widely read column, "Pressing Issues," he has repeatedly been ahead of the curve in intensely scrutinizing both the president and the press--and the controversies swirling around Donald Rumsfeld, Pat Tillman, "Scooter" Libby, Ann Coulter and numerous other figures.
His book is a unique history of the entire war--and as topical as today's headlines. Whether writing early warnings that anticipated a long and bloody war, analyzing Stephen Colbert's in-his-face mockery of George W. Bush, or imagining the president confessing his sins to Oprah Winfrey, Greg Mitchell explores how we got into the war in Iraq--and why we just can't seem to get out. With tens of thousands of American troops still in Iraq, debate over the war continues to rage on TV news and across editorial pages. Against this backdrop of controversy, Greg Mitchell is the rare journalist who has seen it all with clear eyes. In So Wrong for So Long, he can finally tell the whole story.
In this pertinent but ego-driven compilation of writings on the Iraq War, Mitchell, editor of media industry magazine Editor & Publisher, argues that, from the outset, the press did not adequately question the reasoning behind American operations in Iraq. Quoting his publication, Mitchell condemns the press's tendency "to accept the military's word first and ask questions later," citing specific examples like the media's blind approval of Secretary of State Powell's Feb., 2003, speech favoring a call to arms. Mitchell describes incidents like this as a symptom of the media's "failure of will" to probe matters of national security. His thesis-that a weak press deserves blame for the Iraq quagmire-is hard to argue with, but it's not exactly news. Still, he provides a valuable roundup of media reactions from across the spectrum, and his grievances are substantial. Ultimately, though, Mitchell is difficult to distinguish from the one-sided, single-minded figures he rails against; readers will learn a great deal about the media politics behind the Iraq war, but will have to decide for themselves how trustworthy a pundit Mitchell really is.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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March 03, 2008
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