The Downing Street Memo is News
Of course the Memo is news; Bush supporters just can't allow it to be seen as news because it shows up Bush for the lieing fraud he is.
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism
Justifying the Silence on Downing Street Memos
June 17, 2005
One of the features of the newfound media interest in the Downing
Street Memo is a profound defensiveness, as reporters scramble to explain
why it received so little attention in the U.S. press. But the most
familiar line--the memo wasn't news because it contained no "new"
information--only raises troubling questions about what journalists were doing
when they should have been reporting on the gulf between official White
House pronouncements and actual White House intentions.
There are two important points in the Downing Street Memo, and media
apologists have marshaled slightly different--though equally
unconvincing--arguments as to why each did not deserve coverage. The first point
is that the White House was intent on going to war long before it
announced the decision to invade Iraq; "It seemed clear that Bush had made up
his mind to take military action," the memo states, citing British
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
The Washington Post editorialized (6/15/05): "The memos add not a
single fact to what was previously known about the administration's prewar
deliberations. Not only that: They add nothing to what was publicly
known in July 2002." The New York Times reported (6/14/05) that "the
documents are not quite so shocking. Three years ago, the near-unanimous
conventional wisdom in Washington held that Mr. Bush was determined to
topple Saddam Hussein by any means necessary." NBC reporter Andrea
Mitchell similarly remarked on June 14 (Media Matters, 6/15/05) that you had
to be "brain dead not to know" what the White House was doing.
But if everyone knew it was a lie when Bush and the White House
repeatedly denied that they had decided to go to war (as with Bush's March 6,
2003 statement, "I have not made up our mind about military action"),
why were reporters not exposing this bad faith at every turn? On March
16, 2003, for example, Andrea Mitchell referred to negotiations at the
United Nations as part of "the diplomatic campaign to avoid war." If
war was a foregone conclusion, why were such talks reported as if they
So, the Lackey Corporate Press -- was it lieing then? Or is it lieing now? And remember:
Real news is the news you and I need to keep our freedoms. --Richard Reeves, journalist