Debating Iraq in 2014: Wrong All Over Again

Published on
by
Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting

Debating Iraq in 2014: Wrong All Over Again

The crisis in Iraq has brought war back to the US airwaves. But if you were expecting a more robust discussion about US military action this time around, think again. The rule seems to be that if you were wrong in 2003, you're still an expert in 2014.

Take the Sunday chat shows. On ABC's This Week (6/15/14), viewers heard first from former military: ex-fighter pilot Steve Ganyard and retired Gen. Peter Chiarelli.

Up next was Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a hawkish lawmaker who called Iraq "the greatest threat, national security threat, since 9/11."

The show's roundtable closed with a brief discussion of Iraq, featuring hard-right war advocates Laura Ingraham and Bill Kristol alongside Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, who voted against the Iraq War resolution in 2002. Kristol, one of the most visible media proponents of the Iraq invasion, has never suffered any consequences as a pundit. He told ABC viewers–perhaps even with a straight face–that the current crisis in Iraq  is "a disaster unfortunately made possible, or certainly made more likely, by our ridiculous and total withdrawal from Iraq in 2011."

On NBC's Meet the Press (6/15/14), anchor David Gregory told viewers they would hear from "key voices from the House and Senate."

But before that, viewers were treated to failed Republican presidential candidate and Iraq War supporter Mitt Romney. The next guest was a Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who said: "I'm open to the airstrikes and technical support. Yeah, the airstrikes, technical support, drones, whatever it takes."

The panel discussion on the show featured Paul Wolfowitz, George W. Bush's deputy Pentagon secretary and a key Iraq War architect, along with hawkish Republican Rep. Peter King of New York. They were joined by reporter Dexter Filkins and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who wrote in April 2003:

Personally, I don't much care if the US reports about weapons of mass destruction prove to be imaginary. Toppling Hussein's regime was still right.

Iraq briefly came up during the roundtable with former Republican politician Ken Cuccinelli, Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, former Democratic Rep.  Harold Ford–who voted for the war–and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus.

One wouldn't keep trusting a meteorologist who got the weather forecast horribly wrong. Why do news shows treat matters of war any differently?

Peter Hart

Peter Hart is the activism director at FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting). He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra, and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly" (Seven Stories Press, 2003).