Judith Miller and Her Black Eye Over WMDs
Jack Shafer in Slate yesterday puts the hurt on the previously-respected Judith Miller of the New York Times, who frankly allowed herself to be used by the Pentagon to push breathless and ultimately meritless WMD stories. However, neither the Times nor Miller have had the journalistic integrity to reveal their sources, how the Pentagon used them, or how they themselves didn’t demand tighter sourcing and better proof.
It is even worse because it appears that Miller participated in the shoddy escapade because she was using the access and material for her upcoming follow-up book to her very successful “Germs”, which I enjoyed, but will now look at in an entirely new light.
The Pentagon’s use of the media in this war, especially on the WMD issue, will go down as a textbook case of how to use a corporate controlled, ratings-seeking media to propagate propaganda to push forward a politically-driven but factually flimsy issue.
Much in the same way the Pentagon and Hollywood used Jessica Lynch to further their purposes, they will use the mainstream media as well. The Bushies know that the key is to have your friends use relaxed FCC rules to grab as much concentration in the media as possible, give your corporate friends ratings-driving leads even if they are meritless, and sit back and watch those friends build a case for war for you.
It doesn’t matter to the current crew in the White House because all they care about is the end result. They don’t care how they get there, or whose reputations or personal ordeals are tarnished or abused in the process. They do it because they know that voters can be misled and steered towards political support for far-fetched schemes, without fear that the media will be vigilant or incur embarrassment to itself while exposing the government’s lies.