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Scripted by the Bush Administration

From pro-war to antiwar, from uncritical acceptance of government pronouncements to principled skepticism, the American media’s perspective on the war has veered drunkenly from one extreme to another.  They not only trumpeted the lies put forth by the War Party but gave them credulous and even solemn attention, then turned on a dime and descried the deception—as if they had no responsibility in the matter.

They made our bed, however, and now we are all sleeping in it.  As the New York Times editorializes against the neo-imperialist inanities that seduced us into war, they conveniently forget that their star reporter, Judith Miller, acted as a transmission belt for government lies.  The Times consistently retailed the fables proffered by Iraqi exiles and presented the imaginative effusions of the Office of Special Plans—a Pentagon propaganda group described by Seymour Hersh as a “cabal”—as fact, while dissent on Iraq’s WMD capacity was ignored or downplayed.  The rest of the media followed suit.  As administration officials raised the specter of a nuclear-armed Saddam—“We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” Condoleezza Rice famously averred—the media, for the most part, reported all of this uncritically.  In the meantime, however, there was a rebellion inside the intelligence community, with the career...

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