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Landay and Strobel Talk Back

Thank you for your responses to "Buying the War" and for the insightful questions you submitted to Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel. We apologize but due to the overwhelming traffic on the site experienced Wedneseday night, neither members of The Moyers Blog staff nor McClatchy gentlemen could log on to respond to your comments. But, Landay and Strobel did have a chance to read through your questions and provided some answers below :

On April 26, 2007 10:26 AM, Mark wrote:

As usual great reporting. This piece left me with two questions that I hope Bill and his team will be following up on.

Why - if the administration knew the information was faulty at best and worked so hard to market the war, what was the real reason behind it. Was it related to the secret energy meetings Cheney held early in the administration.

What next - the administration clearly mislead the american public and the world to engage in an unlawful war. What should become of the architects of this disaster? Are they less than war criminals? Shouldn't this be of primary importance to the media and people that were used and mislead?

Warren Strobel:
There were lots of questions last night about what the real reason behind the war is and was. I think we make a mistake if we look for one single, simple answer to explain Bush's decision to invade Iraq (such as oil, etc).

My sense, from my own reporting and from several good books that I have read - "Assassin's Gate" by George Packer and "Fiasco" by Tom Ricks, in particular - is that there were multiple, overlapping reasons. Let me throw out just a few:
1) frustration and bitterness among Bush's aides who had served in Bush 41 that they had not overthrown Saddam in 1991;
2) a desire to recreate the Middle East in their own (democratic) image;
3) post-9/11 paranoia about another attack from whatever source;
4) a desire to show, that after being wounded by the 9/11 attacks, the United States could strike anywhere in the world, even if the target wasn't directly linked to the 9/11 plot (former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith actually said something like this).

So in a sense, it was a Perfect Storm, though as the Moyers documentary points out, it was not inevitable.

It's also important to remember that while senior Bush aides could have and should have known the entire case was faulty and based on bogus intelligence, it's also probable they *believed* their own talking points. The vice president STILL argues that al Qaida was in Iraq before March 2003, although every bit of "evidence" on that count has been discounted. I refer you to the latest Senate Intelligence Committee report last fall on that score...

As to what happens to administration officials and the administration in general, that's for the voters to decide. We just try to report the facts and help the public, hopefully, make informed choices.


On April 26, 2007 11:47 AM John Highfill wrote:

What can a citizen do to press the media - especially TV - to ask, and keep asking the tough questions until they are honestly satisfied themselves that they are reporting the truth? I pick on TV because I know there are many young people (under 40) who only get their news from TV and the web. I greatly appreciate your reporting, but I do not recall that much of what the two featured Knight Ridder reporters wrote made it to the front page of our local Knight Ridder paper - The Charlotte Observer.

How can we hold/ encourage/make/etc. journalist seek a truth that they believe as individual contentious reporters? How can we impact their corporate superiors to allow and support their reporters in their quest for truth? I want the unvarnished truth - good, bad or indifferent. I thought that is what good reporting was supposed to be about.

Jonathan Landay:
I'm not sure that the failure of major news media to delve into the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq can be totally blamed on corporate consolidation and control of big media. Knight Ridder was (and The McClatchy Co.) is the second largest publisher of newspapers in the United States and one of the largest in the world. KR was and McClatchy is mainstream media, with more than 30 newspapers and multiple websites and many other publications. But there was never a point where Knight Ridder's corporate leadership tried to rein us in or interfere with our reporting. On the contrary, we received only the strongest encouragement and unwavering support from KR's top executives. This was all about journalism. We simply did our jobs. Our editors had faith that our work was accurate and so did their bosses. I should note that the pre-invasion stories that the Moyer's show featured were among scores of stories that we wrote over a four-year period on the administration's use of exaggerated and bogus intelligence, U.S. intelligence community incompetence (as well as top-flight analysis), the administration's reliance on so-called defectors produced by the Iraqi National Congress and the Pentagon's failure to properly plan for the post-Saddam period despite multiple warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies on the dangers of an insurgency. There was one occasion when I did receive a query from KR corporate about a Wall Street Journal piece that said materials recovered in Iraq purportedly showed a Saddam-al Qaida link. My subsequent inquiries led to an exclusive report on how those materials showed nothing of the sort. Our reports on pre-war intelligence, the defectors and planning failures are archived at:


On April 26, 2007 09:07 AM Sean Tucker wrote:

Thank you very much for yesterday’s documentary.

One issue that was not discussed on the program was the role and influence of the foreign media. Did/do American journals read the front pages of Canadian and British papers? This might be effective in counteracting group think the next time.

Best regards,

Warren Strobel:
Interesting question. Many in the foreign - especially European media were more skeptical. But I think "Buying the War" shows how much "group think," as you put it, was going on in the United States, particularly right after 9/11. European views didn't permeate very much - in fact people like Rumsfeld pretty much told the Europeans to mind their own business and just follow our lead. "Old Europe" at least.

It would be nice to think, in the blog age, that foreign newspapers would have more of an imapact in the US. But we still tend to be a very insular country.


On April 26, 2007 10:02 AM John wrote:

Great Show! Great Reporting. I'm still left with the question of "Why?". The Administration lied, they manipulated intelligence reports, they exaggerated threats, they spun every fact like a top. For What Purpose? Why did they want to go to war with Iraq so badly? Anyone?

Jonathan Landay:
Only the officials who took this country to war can answer that question accurately. I can only give you my best reading based on the reporting we did. I don't believe there was one single reason. I believe there was a confluence of constituencies within the administration that had different reasons for wanting to topple Saddam Hussein. Please don't take my response as justifying or defending them in any way. Firstly, I know that many officials and their fellow travelers outside the government really believed that ridding the world of a tyrant who massacred hundreds of thousands of his own people and invaded his neighbors was the right thing to do. But in their pantheon of reasons, this definitely was way, way, way down their list of priorities. I divide the constituencies this way:

President Bush - I think he saw 9/11 as some kind of special calling, that it was a sign that he was chosen to lead some kind of mission to make the United States and the world safe from Islamic extremism and threats like Saddam Hussein, the clerics in Iran and Kim Song Il in Pyongyang. I also believe that he wanted to get the man who tried to kill his daddy.

Cheney, Rumsfeld, other neocons and their cheerleaders outside the administration: They saw the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War as an historic opportunity for the United States to use its unrivaled political, economic and military might to reshape a part of the world in a way that eliminated long-standing threats to U.S. security and improved access to the world's largest oil-producing region. Ahmad Chalabi fit right into this vision. He said that if installed as Saddam's successor, he would sign a peace treaty with Israel and give the United States permanent military bases in the middle of the restive Muslim world. I also think that this constituency firmly believed that they had to do more than oust the Taliban, a ragtag plastic sandal-wearing militia that was hardly a worthy foe, to show other powers that the United States would not sit still following an attack like 9/11. Iraq was a much easier target than Iran or North Korea and those permanent bases would allow the administration to shift U.S. forces out of Saudi Arabia, site of Islam's holiest shrines, where their presence was fueling anti-Western resentment and helping al Qaida recruiting. Moreover, this constituency had convinced itself that Saddam was hiding WMD and working with bin Laden. They came into office with a historic distrust of the CIA and its analytical record, with some justification. The CIA had missed how far along Iraq's nuclear weapons program was before the first Gulf War, missed the Indian nuclear test and missed the North Korean missile test. So they rejected CIA reports that Saddam was not involved in 9/11 and that there were no operational links between al Qaida and Saddam, as well as intelligence community judgments that Saddam would not give WMD to al Qaida or other terrorists. But in their manic obsession to justify the invasion, they enthusiastically embraced the CIA's junk, erroneous judgments that Saddam was hiding major WMD programs. Go figure.

Wolfowitz, Feith and fellow travelers inside and outside the government: I believe they shared all of the above with Cheney and Rumsfeld, but also had this naïve notion that they could replace Saddam with democracy that would spread to other Arab countries and Iran, and bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In other words, make the Middle East safe for Israel. In fact, the opposite has happened, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict flaring, al Qaida finding more recruits than ever before, U.S. soldiers dying in Iraq and Afghanistan _ which is now Iraq on a slower burn _ Hezbollah more powerful than ever in Lebanon, worldwide anger at the United States at an all-time high and Iran moving toward the ability to produce nuclear weapons.


On April 26, 2007 09:07 AM Ali Khwaja wrote:

Why hasn't anyone publicly come out and said who owns the Washington Post and New York Times and where their loyalties pro-Israeli. That's what this was truly all about...America sacrificing their boys and girls so Israel can stay top dog....Its a shame how everyone was manipulated into this....Watch the same thing happen with Iran

Warren Strobel:
Several comments/questions along these lines. I just flatly disagree. One of the brilliant things about the Moyers piece is how he makes crystal clear what really happened - a post-9/11 stifling of debate and dissent by what someone in the film called "the patriotism police."


On April 25, 2007 11:32 PM stephanie wrote:

Thank you for your reporting and perseverance in the face of what must have been tremendous pressure to shut up or speak differently.

Moyers' show demonstrates that readers/viewers must read/watch news not just critically, but also skeptically - that is, not to have blind faith that reporters are doing the investigating necessary to corroborate and verify claims and stories.

Thus, I wonder: what suggestions do you have for us lay people as to how to find real reporters reporting - those who substantively investigate Administration or other interested parties' claims, whether on Iraq or any other issue?

Thank you.

Jonathan Landay:
There ARE real reporters out there, including at some of the publications that helped make the administration's case for war. The New York Times continues to break incredibly important stories, like the NSA eavesdropping program, unparalleled reporting on the detainee abuse issue, the stacking of U.S. government agencies with former officials of the industries those agencies are supposed to regulate and the genocide in Darfur. The Washington Post has written about the CIA secret prisons and the appalling conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital. But the newspaper business is in crisis. The Internet and a drop in readership has led to a reduction in revenues, which has led to a drop in stock prices. Wall Street, which was for years used to extremely high profits from newspaper companies, is unhappy and so newspaper company stock prices have fallen. Knight Ridder was forced to put itself on the auction block because of a shareholders' revolt. Newspapers have been laying off reporters, reducing their ability to keep the public informed. Where there is a real need for better reporting is on television, which rarely tells stories that there aren't pictures for. I'm not sure what can be done about a situation where profits and keeping sponsors happy has become more important than keeping the public informed, something that is absolutely vital to safeguarding our democracy.


On April 26, 2007 08:18 AM Albert E. wrote:

Dear Mr. Landay and Mr. Strobel,

I’ve never seen a busier blog, ever. No doubt you’re overwhelmed with all the comments, as am I. The server was so busy that I finally gave up trying to post my comment last night after 3 hours of constant activity. Exemplary credit goes to each and every person who helped in this project! It’s amazing what the truth does to people.

At this point in the thread I guess I’m only echoing the same sentiment of many others. Here is my comment and question: I was MORTIFIED to hear Walter Pinkus of the Washington Post recall that 1981 was when the press allowed the Dems to take over THEIR truth seeking responsibilities. Shouldn't you guys and every other journalist be SHOUTING from every rooftop EVERY DAY AND NIGHT, FROM THIS POINT ON, in order to sort out what has become a puzzle, wrapped in a riddle, rolled up in an enigma? Shouldn't we declare this a public emergency right away?! Won’t things only get worse if this nightmare continues to be even slightly downplayed? I stress the importance of this because we’re talking about trying to peel off the layers of a two decade old propaganda onion! I’d appreciate your candor and THANK YOU for your work.

Warren Strobel:
Thanks. Yes, it was too bad the blog got overwhelmed last night. Walter Pincus is a great reporter, who did good work on this story and many others.

I think he has a point, in that it is much easier for journalists to do their jobs if there is an intelligent, active political opposition, whether it be R or D. But we as journalists CAN'T, CAN'T, CAN'T rely on that alone. It is more important than ever to do independent truth-squading when the politicians fail. Otherwise, who else will? Either we are the "Fourth Estate," to use that almost archaic term, or
we're not.


On April 25, 2007 11:30 PM Edgar wrote:

Could this happen again with Iran? Are reports that Iran wants nuclear weapons and is close to developing them true?

Great job with your reporting I wish I'd heard of you before.


Jonathan Landay:
The irony here is that Iran better fits the administration's criteria for invading Iraq than Iraq did. Iran does support Islamic extremist groups that have attacked American targets, like Khobar Towers, and other targets, like the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. And there is evidence gathered by the International Atomic Energy Agency that indicates that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Even without that evidence, Iran is developing the ability to enrich uranium on an industrial scale. It says it only wants fuel for power plants. But the same process that enriches uranium for power plants also produces highly enriched uranium for weapons. By most accounts, it won't achieve this ability for another five years or so. But given the crisis in Iraq, the stresses on U.S. forces, massive opposition from allies and the huge worldwide opprobrium that a U.S. attack would ignite (not to mention terrorist attacks), I do not believe that the administration planning to strike Iran at this time.


On April 26, 2007 07:03 AM Art and Meredith Neria wrote:

Why were/are so many in Journalism afraid of the Bush regime? Are we under a government of, by and for the corporations? We appreciate knowing that what we sensed was the case back in 2002 and 2003 -that we were being hoodwinked by this administration- was actually the fact of the matter; small consolation today. But now we know there are fact-diggers and fact-reporters still doing their jobs. Turns out, we need to be doing our own research and voicing our beliefs. Freedom is fought for here at home as well. Thank you for the reminder.

Warren Strobel:
Thanks for the comment. One of the things that got left out of the show was how then Knight Ridder, now McClatchy, has given us tremendous corporate backing for our journalism. I know the corporate office got some flack for what we were doing and writing back in 2002, 2003, 2004, but we never felt chill winds from our own company trying to hold us back. Questions wondering whether we were sure we were on the right track, yes. Self-censorship, no.

Also, to get to your first point, we find it kind of ironic to see all sorts of journalists challenging the administration on all sorts of fronts now - I mean, it's good and healthy to have that kind of accountability. But it's a lot easier for a reporter to do that when Bush has low approval ratings, the Iraq war is not going well and the Democrats control Congress...


On April 26, 2007 12:00 AM Hannah Valley wrote:

So, what now? We should apologize to Iraq immediately. Write them a check for the damage we caused and leave. But, of course, as an African-American I know we won't do this. This war will forever be a stain on our nation's honor

Warren Strobel:
What now, indeed? That's not up to us in the press to determine. I would simply comment that, based on my reporting and foreign affairs background, it's a lot easier to get into a situation like this (whether it's the United States in Iraq, the Brits in Northern Ireland, the French in Algeria, etc) than it is to get out. I hate to sound like a White House spokesman, but it IS true that simply leaving doesn't make the problem go away. Iraq could fracture; Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia could send in troops or militias; there could be further destabilization across the Middle East.

All the more reason the original decision to go to war should have been more scrutinized. Colin Powell was right about the Pottery Barn rule - "You broke it; you own it."


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Dear Editor,
I do not believe that the public should be blamed in any way for this disaster in reporting. The public eye is something all journalists are in everyday, and they should be used to the criticism that comes with their jobs. It should not be new for these reporters to risk being disapproved of. They have all faced it before, and should not abandon their duties as a journalist simply because of criticism. The United States had just faced the biggest national disaster in centuries, and it is true that the people may have been harsher on those that went against the government than usual. This does not mean reporters should do their jobs any differently. It may be true that the public could be more understanding to those who did report the news as it actually was, but not a single reporter should fear this. They should certainly not stop doing their jobs.
A Concerned Reader

Mr. Moyers, Landay and Strobel:
I feel as if you place far too much blame for the disaster that has occurred in American journalism on the Bush administration. While Colin Powell was slightly (make that completely) wrong to use an undergraduate thesis as evidence for the war in Iraq, the true problem lay in the fact that the American media refused to find out where that document was from and what it consisted of. On the other hand, the BBC did an excellent job of discovering the thesis’ provenance, but due to the prudishness of the American media, they refused to air anything against the government that could result in diminished advertising revenue. Countless administrations have used flawed evidence for going to war. In this war, evidence is not scrutinized and patriotic fervor has spread to the point that the media have forgotten their basic function: to give a voice to those who lack one.

Dear Mr. Moyers,

Its hard to believe that the press can be so influenced by the Government just to sell stories and make a profit. It saddens me, wondering who I can trust. It makes me ponder what the press is really used for.
I grew up knowing that the truth is important and lying and manipulation of people-and thing- will just get me into more trouble. As you can see, the Government lied about the WOMDs, manipulated the press for the public would believe them, and got us into a bigger mess, a war with no exit plan in sight.
Now tell Government and Press, what matters more, truth or money at the expense of others lives?

Ariana S.

Dear Mr. Moyers,
As a high school journalism student, I was intrigued by your presentation. I was very young during the 9/11 attacks and I did not have the opportunity to experience the aftermath of the events as a true adult would have. But I have definitely become politically informed over the past couple of years, and seeing this documentary gave me new insight into the attacks. Although I understood the effects of 9/11 on journalism before seeing your presentation, I had no idea of the extent of the government’s manipulation of the press.
I read the New York Times almost daily, and I have never thought to question its reliability. But I was simply appalled by Judith Miller’s reporting tactics during the early stages of the Iraq war as well as the lies, exaggerations, and pure propaganda that the Times used to sell more papers. As Adrienne Rich once said:
False history gets made all day, any day,
the truth of the new is never on the news.
Journalists became the ultimate businessmen at a time when reliable, objective, and legitimate reporting was what the nation truly needed. If things keep progressing the way they have for the past six years, we will continue to create false history. This is utterly disappointing to my high school journalism class—the politicians of tomorrow—who will have to straighten out this mess if things do not take a turn for the better. The manipulation is only going to get worse. It is time for the American people to do something.
Thank you for your time.
Carly Machlis

I found Buying the War to be well researched and very interesting. It disturbs me how every administration that has been in office can manipulate the media to such an extent. The newspaper must always question and criticize the statements and actions made by every administration, especially in times of war. I do realize however, that after 9/11, the press was wary of being too critical of the government or appearing to be soft on terrorism in such a fragile time. However, the media must remember that it has a duty to the American people to get the right story and to act like a watch dog to the government. The press needs to be wary of all sources and especially those coming from officials high up in the government with large agendas. The press is relying too much on administrative sources, and are not going out and looking for other sources like scientists and researchers; people who are experts on their subjects.

Dear Mr. Moyers,

My high school journalism class was recently shown your Buying the War segment. Only seventeen-years-old now, I was not very politically aware when the events of September 11th first took place six years ago. All of the chaos that occurred afterward was over my head as well. So watching your video gave me a lot of insight. I never thought about the other side of the story. I never thought to question the actions and orders of our government. I just accepted that war was the best course of action. Now, I think otherwise. I agree with the reporters from Knight Ridder that there should have been more open skepticism about the government. After the events of 9/11, every American citizen was so patriotic and it did not seem as if the reporters wanted to break the bond of the American people during the national disaster. People were afraid to ask questions. This video has taught me that of course the government is not perfect and does not always have all the correct answers, so we as Americans should not be afraid to stand up and ask questions. We should not allow the government to manipulate our minds, but rather give us the freedom and ease to learn the full story.

Thank you.

After watching Bill Moyers’ documentary on the failure of the press after 9/11, I am outraged that our government would lie to the press to try to convince the nation to go to war. The White House planned a leak to the New York Times and other major newspapers saying that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Later, though, while we were stuck in a pointless war, weapons inspectors concluded that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The press should have investigated the subject more deeply, and not worried about getting in trouble with their sponsors. In the future, hopefully this can prevent another disaster like the Iraqi War from happening. This show proved that the Bush Administration is all about business, and they don’t care about losing thousands of young American lives or lying to the face of the nation they are running. Thank you for showing what really happened at the White House during the days before the Iraqi invasion, and finally letting the citizens of America see the truth.

My class was recently shown segments of your show on PBS. I must thank you vigourously for doing so even with the threat of angry conservative backlash that inevitably will come.
Your show slightly addressed the American people’s role in the newspaper. Sadly, this I find to be true – newspapers are indeed a business and therefore have something of an obligation to reap in profits. It is nearly all the public’s fault in the end – we cannot blame newspapers for brainwashing us. The public wanted to be brainwashed. It wanted for newspapers to churn patriotic nonsense to fuel the “fervor” (the word used in your show). And sadly, this is how newspapers will most likely continue to operate.

After seeing this documentary, I was shocked by the low standards of newspapers generally considered objective. Although I understand that a newspaper must make revenue in order to survive, what this documentary suggested--that journalists will write anything for a big scoop--greatly surprised me, and changed my views on the once-desired goal of journalism, objectivity. From using biased, anonymous defectors from the Middle East, to taking leads straight from the Bush administration, journalists, whose role as credible writers is supposed to report nothing but the truth, have certainly been transformed. Next time I pick up a newspaper, I may have to treat its articles like I do to those of blogs and tabloids: biased rumors, twisted to produce "news."

Dear Mr. Moyers,

After watching your documentary, “Buying the War,” I couldn’t help but think about how the attacks of September 11th impacted journalism in ways that no one could have foreseen.

Shortly after the attacks, the mass media became the President’s lapdogs, obeying his every whim. In the days and months following the assault, the mass media rarely, if ever, questioned the President’s foreign policy decisions. Even when the federal government was throwing up smoke screens hiding the real motives for going to war, the mass media didn’t respond. Instead, mostly pro-war articles were published on the front page of major newspapers, tempting our country to leap into a war we were not ready to fight.

The emotions brought on by a national disaster can’t override the function of a journalist; reporting the news. Too many patriotic opinionated fluff pieces in the major newspapers can only lead to serious problems, on the foreign and domestic side. It’s imperative that large news corporations keep this in mind the next time a national catastrophe occurs.

Ben Rogg-Meltzer

Nina, the press never woke up.

It is totally baffling that for four years politicians and the press ignored the lies Bush used to justify the invasion, and concentrated instead on WMD, which was never a major factor in the public's support for the war.

Most Americans who supported the invasion bought the administration line ( still repeated by GW's friends at FOX ) that Iraq attacked the US on 9/11/2001.

In this shameful time for American journalism, George Tenet's "slam dunk" was simply irrelevant.

In previous generations, were journalistic institutions under so much pressure to make money? If so, how did they prevent their profit motives from compromising their standards? Or did newspapers and television news stations have enough reliable revenue that they could operate in a fashion that conformed with the traditional ethics of the profession? I often feel as if modern journalistic institutions are so driven by a hunger to make money that they sometimes give up their objectivity when they know a majority of the consuming public feels a certain way about an issue, and emphasize "news" (i.e., Anna Nicole Smith) that interests many consumers. I would appreciate a response to these questions.

Dear Editor,

I found the comments by the reporters and editors to be really illuminating. The press really had the wool pulled over there eyes in this instance. And worse was that once the press began to catch on and be critical of the government's actions, people like Bill O'Reilly called them "bad Americans" or something equally unhelpful. The example used about the "information" that came out about Saddam Hussein having a laboratory for bio-weapons underneath his home was really interesting, because without the hysteria that the government caused linking Hussein and terrorism together, civilians and the press could have seen the ludicrousness of that whole idea. As someone who is interested in journalism, I think that more of the press should be actively involved in reporting, not just regurgitating what experts, pundits and the government are dishing out.

Dear Editor,

I want to thank you for creating this video. It is extremely informative and evidence-based. One of the things that was extremely well done was the discussion about the mistakes the media made in the months before the war. The example of the Knight Ridder reporters was astounding to me, as the two reporters recognized the beltway that was created by the Bush administration to lead reporters from papers such as the New York Times to other favorable sources. Another example that was thoroughly explained and presented was the Phil Donahue saga and how he was fired because of his opposing viewpoint to the administration's course of action. The video also discussed in great depth how reporters from newspapers such as the New York Times did not independently fact-check the administration's statements. The Knight Ridder did, and as a result, they found the real story. The presentation was also effective in raising the point that journalists today usually write down what officials say and assume it is true.


Mark Kratkowski

Dear Editor,

I want to thank you for creating this video. It is extremely informative and evidence-based. One of the things that was extremely well done was the discussion about the mistakes the media made in the months before the war. The example of the Knight Ridder reporters was astounding to me, as the two reporters recognized the beltway that was created by the Bush administration to lead reporters from papers such as the New York Times to other favorable sources. Another example that was thoroughly explained and presented was the Phil Donahue saga and how he was fired because of his opposing viewpoint to the administration's course of action. The video also discussed in great depth how reporters from newspapers such as the New York Times did not independently fact-check the administration's statements. The Knight Ridder did, and as a result, they found the real story. The presentation was also effective in raising the point that journalists today usually write down what officials say and assume it is true.


Mark Kratkowski

I found this special, which basically highlighted the downfall of honest journalism in post-9/11 America, to be very intriguing. While I was disgusted by the chain of events that occurred from the conglomeration of a corrupt government and eager-to-please news stations, I was also unsurprised. As reluctant as we are to admit it, the media’s primary concern is inevitably monetary. The government has an agenda, and the media wants money – it’s a symbiotic association. I have to wonder which side of the relationship will leave the dark side first: will it be the government or the media to become more honest? The world may never know.

I am so dismayed at the way the press aided, however reluctantly, President Bush’s efforts to manipulate the public into allowing him to send troops into Iraq. Allowing scripted press conferences to happen, publishing editorials without back-up information, reporting lies without demanding evidence… journalists need to present the facts fully and accurately without blindly following the word of the government. Only by questioning and scrutinizing the White House could the press have gathered all of the information needed to thoroughly inform the public and stop the Iraq war before it started. However, it seems most newspapers were afraid to do this, both because of a public that held disdain for anyone who would criticize the government in a post-9/11 world, and because of threats made by the government. The press needs to realize that its priorities lay in informing the public, not maintaining readership.

Dear Bill Moyers,
After watching the feature on the start of the Iraq war, I was absolutely disgusted. I can understand the uproar of anger, disbelief, and horror expressed by the nation after the events of 9/11, but the purpose of the media is to remain emotionless and simply report the news. I believe 9/11 truly highlighted how corrupt journalism is. A journalist is supposed to report un-bias information on equally important events. Unfortunately, today’s media is full of opinion and on events that really have no effect on the American people or the country. The events of 9/11 magnified how poor journalism has become. Journalists need to stop adding their opinions to the news they report and start actually reporting un-bias news. No one wants to hear news based upon a reporters opinion, we have the capabilities to form our own opinions. I hope that by the time the next time there is a national crisis the media will have learned to do their job and report the news.
Samantha Sedgwick

Dear Mr. Moyer,
I recently watched your piece, Buying the War and have come to the conclusion that the media made several mistakes post 9/11. In my opinion, it is the media’s responsibility not to inflict their opinions on others but to broadcast factual information. The media should not side with the Bush Administration nor should it scrutinize the Bush administration without real evidence to support their opinion.
One of the mistakes the media made was going along with a scripted press conference. The president just gets asked what he wants to ask and the media is looked upon poorly for actually going along with it and no desire to gather real information about 9/11, Al Qaeda or Iraq.
Most news sources were worried they would be challenged by the “patriot police” and would not do stories being critical of 9/11. While a station can choose to be patriotic, there needs to be a balance in which the media still has the responsibility of reporting factual information. If the Bush administration has made a mistake or has covered something up, we have a duty to know.

Dear Bill Moyers,
Thank you so much for making Buying the War. The video really opened my eyes to the harsh truths about 9/11 and how the value of journalism descended from there. It was shocking to realize that the most prestigious newspapers in the country- the New York Times and the Washington Post had forgotten the ethics of journalism at a time that the public was most dependent on the media. At a time like this, the public was reliant on newspapers and reporters to provide them with facts that would keep them alert and at times help them to cope with the tragedies that they faced. I feel ashamed of the fact that these newspapers failed their duty to their readers- the public. I now know better than to trust everything reported by journalists, and have learned that at the time that I need the media the most; I will have to do research myself so as to get correct information. Thank you again for being the eye-opener to the public; the time that you have put into this has been much appreciated. I can only hope that a lesson will be learned from all of this.

Navi Somal

Dear Editor,
A little more than a month ago our assistant principle had to leave our school, because he was called to duty to serve in Iraq. It shocked me to know that a man I had seen at school everyday was going to be one of the men, I hear about on TV everyday. During an interview of him which was posted in our schools paper, he said that he has a duty to serve and that he was going to do what they ask of him. However this angered me after watching Bill Moyer's piece, because the men and women of our country should not be fighting in Iraq. I was shocked at the amount of propaganda that was used to feed the American people and trick them into supporting a war that has gone tragically wrong. It was wrong for President Bush to exploit Iraq for having weapons that didn't even exist, even though much evidence told us that in the first place. 9/11 was a tragic day for everyone in America, but the death toll of Americans in Iraq has already succeeded the number killed that horrific day. More Americans need to see this piece and others to show them the facts and not to support a war that has no cause, and so that soldiers such as our Principle can return home to their familles.

this thread is way too old, and i haven't read all the posts, but i liked the term PATRIOT POLICE.

my guess that it is this police force that continues to prevent the msm from investigating the bush regime's conspiracy theory concerning what rally happened on 11/09/01.

pbs was of course a major player as a patriot only has to think about the thoroughly fraudulent nova broadcast concerning the collapse of wtc 1&2. in fact, virtualy no network, no newspaper has wanted to do a comprehensive investigation into the totality of the damages to WTC buildings that day[consider WTC 6, for instance] and all the usg's many deceits/prevarications about the perpetrators and how it all buildings were destroyed by agencies other than aircraft and short-term kerosene fires.

that these issues continue to be "spiked" gives the lie to what landay says about energetic newspaper journalism. the issue of the usg destroying property and killing american citizens in nyc,at the pentagon, and shanksville so as to precipitate the lies linking saddam to those homicidal events IS NOT TO BE DISCUSSED. TREASON IS NOT TO BE DISCUSSED. and the purveyors of the news seems to be comfortable with sheltering such monstrous treason.

the invasions of afghanistan, iraq were predicated on more than lies, they were propelled by treasonous mass murder perpetrated by a gangster presidential regime.

The documentary Failure of the Fourth Estate gave me a new insight to the war in Iraq. Not only did I not know that the government had tricked us into the war, but I was shocked to find out that the media did also. The purpose of the media is to present “the facts” without any bias, so that the American people can formulate their own opinion. But what the media did after 9/11 was terrible. They stated that Iraq was to blame and that they had weapons of mass destruction, but they did not have sufficient enough evidence to support that claim. If that had not happened, than the American people would not have been scared into a war.

Sincerely, Jeff Meyer

To begin with, the attack of 9/11 shocked the national media along with the nation’s citizens. As reporters told the nation what little information they had, another plane struck the south tower on live television. There was such shock as reporters told horror stories by the media itself and it’s viewers. There was no room for critique, in a time of mourning. Specifically, the most telling example of the attack’s effect on the press was the failure to question the Bush Administration’s assertion of a connection between 9/11 and Iraq. After such a terrible event, the country was looking for revenge, and needed to find a scapegoat. When George Bush and his administration entered there first term, they wanted to topple Saddam’s regime. Sadly 9/11 gave them a chance to blame someone who was not causing the problem. The media backed up the cause for war and wrote hundreds of stories for entering Iraq. It is important that news organizations remain objective during the next natural disaster.

Ben Klaff

Admittedly, after watching the feature on the precursor to our entry into the war with Iraq, I was absolutely appalled. It is understandable that the nation was shocked by the terrorist attack on 9/11, but the media’s response was entirely inappropriate and showed a complete disregard for its purpose in our society. The patriotic attitude invoked in Americans as a result of the attack shrouded the true meaning of journalism. Journalists forgot the significance of their careers. The next time a disaster strikes the United States, hopefully the method of response will be more effective and less influenced by profitability. The propaganda that was used to corrupt the American public has thrown us into a war that we apparently cannot afford. If journalists act similarly to the way they reacted after 9/11 during the next national crisis, then I fear for the future of this country.

Thomas Sargent

Thank you so much for putting this film together. I never realized how much manipulation and deception our government used to help get the media on its side, and I was very disappointed to find out that many of the major newspapers failed to examine and scrutinize all the details of the information they were receiving.
To me, the most disturbing part of the movie was the scripted press conference when President Bush was trying to promote his agenda for Iraq. When the purpose of a press conference is to make the speaker answer questions they have not seen previously, scripting it ruins the whole purpose.
My high school just lost an assistant principal to this war that we were all tricked into supporting and believing, and after seeing your film, it angers me that such a kind man was stolen away and put in the line of fire for a war that our president tricked us into believing with the help of a media that did not do its job.
-David, High School Senior

Great show. I really miss real investigative journalism like you could once rely on with 60 Minutes or 20/20 (sometimes).

My question.. if the pilots of 9/11 had been trained in Canada.. instead of the US... Do you think the US would have invaded Canada? It technically would have represented a stronger tie than the one they had with Iraq. I honestly believe the Bush Administration and the Media could have sold that too.

Dear "REM",
I would be thrilled to watch any production by Mr. Moyers, or anyone else on PBS, that develops an _institutional-level analysis_ of the symbiosis between government, military, and mass media. Understanding the origins and nature of this symbiosis is, I my opinion, key to understanding political culture in the US. So, if you will be so kind as to list the specific episodes of programs that tackle this issue, I will gladly watch them and report back. I fear, however, that you will have difficulty doing so because, sadly, such shows do not exist on US television. But give it the 'ol college try anyhow!

Bill Moyers has produced an "expose'" of how the press covered propaganda about invading Iraq, and Common Dreams is celebrating it on their website. They claim the press deceived the people, but nobody was fooled by the press who didn't want to be fooled. A hundred million consumers knew that hillbilly hired guns and Arabs would do all the fighting and dying, while the rest of us stayed home and bought a lot of new toys.
Populist mouthpieces like Common Dreams and Bill Moyers constantly point out the ludicrous implausibility of the pro-war propaganda. Do they think that 70% of the “populus” really believed that nonsense?
The people sold out the truth for stinking gadgets, for cheap oil and for all the familiar comforts of "the American way of life." When it was uncomfortable to acknowledge the truth, they endorsed the posturing of a little wooden puppet.

Mike Loeb, you are right when you say that many journalists (and many others) are decrying this illegal occupation only because it has proved to be a failure; but you are wrong when you include Mr. Moyers in that shameful category. I believe his old shows are still available on the Internet; if you watch them you will see that he told the truth about the illegal invasion even before it began.

I have noticed that many of the comments here match the pattern: "Mr. Moyers, why did you fail to mention x-y-z, which is one of the worst threats facing our democracy today?" In almost every case, if you watch the old shows you will see that Mr. Moyers covered x-y-z YEARS ago. It isn't his fault that the other "journalists" (and the politicians and the public) failed to follow his lead.

Also, Mr. Loeb, I am sure it is true that the Big Media Corporations have supported past wars, but it is wrong to conclude that nothing has changed. In the past, a few Big Corporations controlled a significant percentage of all the newspapers and radio and TV stations, but that percentage was never so very close to 100% as it is today.

Great start Mr Moyers.

Seems to me that FoxNews and Mr Murdoch need a deep dive investigation as the propaganda organ that led to this invasion and occupation of an innocent peoples, the theft of their assets, and the horror and terror reigned upon them since that day. Fox above all else was the flag-waving merchant of death and beneficiary of the corporate spoils valued by frequency licensed media, while Mr Murdoch’s intimacy with the NeoCons is legendary.

From their cable assets, they and the NeoCon Whitehouse vilified the real Forth Estate. Their minute by minute sound and fury was psychological brainwashing not news. Had the forth estate found the balls to fight Fox and won that battle prior to March 2003, there would be a lot less dead people in the world than there are today, and trillions of dollars helping to improve American lives rather than lining the pockets of NeoCon fronts and frauds. NeoCon; doesn’t that mean new con job?

Perhaps the cost of Mr Murdoch’s salvation from near financial collapse in the late 1980’s was to become the Judas goat of the American public opinion. Search and ye shall find you good reporters.

Please don't stop Bill. It's not ok to tell us there's been a mass murder, but there will be no trial.

Lynn Bradbury's last comment is dead on: Moyers's piece was made because the war has been _improperly managed_, not because the press "rolled over" and certainly not because the war is illegal and immoral. Just read Moyers's first sentence suggesting the cause of his chagrin:

Moyers: Four years ago this spring the Bush administration took leave of reality and plunged our country into a war so poorly planned it soon turned into a disaster.

That's right. So poorly planned it turned into a disaster. What Moyers and other establishment liberals mean when they say this--and they all say it or at least imply the same--is that had we just been better conquerers, had the PLANNING been better, it just wouldn't matter that the White House-Military-Press axis of evil lied us into war--again. If things had turned out better, there might be a few complaints here and there about all the pre-war smoke that was blown (and inhaled), but at least we'd have our new colony of Iraq and good liberals can live with that.

Unsurprisingly, what this show completely missed is the fact that the US media ALWAYS supports power in its war aims. Always. Since WW I and beyond, one cannot find and exception to this Golden Rule. Many like to point to a press hostile to the war against Vietnam, but this is just a myth. It took years and years of killing and devastation before the establishment started to turn against the Vietnam war, and even then the justification was because the costs of the war were too high for the US and because power feared that the US public might take direct action at home against the government.

The Golden Rule was articulated once in the show, but if you blinked you missed it. Poor Norman Solomon, the lone voice of Deeper Understanding, tried to squeeze it in, but it felt like the dialog we ramped up a bit so that we could just get on with shaking our fists at Fox News and feeling sorry for Dan Rather. This is what Norm said:

SOLOMON: The TV, radio, print, other media outlets are as crucial to going to war as the bombs and the bullets and the planes. They're part of the arsenal, the propaganda weaponry, if you will. And that's totally understood across the board, at the Pentagon, the White House, the State Department.

Amen! Now, if PBS or Moyers had any understanding of the system that they are a part of, they would do us all a favor and report THAT reality. But don't hold your breath. Institutions never investigate themselves.

Dear Messr. Moyers(?), Landay and Strobel,

You'll have to excuse me - I am really not up on the "net" and this is the first time I've offered any comment on one of these sites.

I am an american and living abroad for almost 20 years. I live in Italy, but not in the windswept grain fields of Toscana but in a place in Rome much like Jackson Heights or S. Philly, if you catch my drift.

I saw your documentary and was profoundly impressed. I had never realized how crucial the "4th Estate" could be as a part of our particular system of government. "Catching" or "outing" perpetrators is one thing, the course of history and thousands of American soldier's (and Iraqi) lives is quite another.

The murders at the WTC towers had more than a passing effect on me, as I worked on the 86th floor of the south tower with DHL in the late 80's.

When I arrived in Rome in 1990, there were only two fully functioning american news bureaus left in Rome.

This is no joke. As you know, Rome is an hour and change flight time to Bosnia, Istanbul, Rabat, Syria, etc, etc. NBC and CBS had long since gone. ABC and CNN (CNN some time later) moved out. By 1994, it was all over. The best americans could hope to learn from an AMERICAN source in a FOREIGN COUNTRY was a college-aged stringer with CNN on a cell phone or, of course, the State Department, that la-la land of "kinda-fresh AMERICAN milk at the commissary crowd". So what did you ultimately expect?

My question is this:

If "journalists" are so interested in REALLY what goes on in the rest of the world, why the hell don't they get out here?

How much could a Rome Bureau cost? My treat - I'll buy the first round.

PS. To Messr. Landay and Strobel- excellent reporting; I got an C- in journalism - you've done better.

I saw Tony Snow lie right through his teeth last night on Charles Gibsons broadcast 4/30. He said the Adninistration never said Al Quada and Saddam were linked. In response to a question about Tenant's book. What will it take to get them to stop. Impeachment?

Referring to my last post, there is some disagreement whether Kurtz meant this sarcastically or not. I think it was sloppy wording on his part, but he may not have meant it literally. I hope not.

I'm wondering if Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel are two of the "journalists of questionable patriotism" that Howard Kurtz referred to today when discussing the new Tenet book. No, I'm not making it up. The quote:

"So what's interesting here is: This is no longer the liberal media saying this. This is no longer a bunch of journalists of questionable patriotism saying the Bush administration rushed to war; wanted to invade Iraq all along; didn't have a serious debate. This is the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and I think, in some ways -- leaving his motivation aside -- he has validated the press accounts that we've seen about the way that this war unfolded." (The text and audio is available on the Media Matters website.)

At the risk of stating the obvious, this is discouraging. Is our free press still under attack by our "free press."

Great reporting. But the Pulitzer will go to the reporter, who uncovers the true motive(s) for this Administration wanting to go to war. My take: paybacks to Corporate America, (in blood for profits for helping Bush get/stay in office), as vendors for the Military Industrial Complex. What's Bill's take; and will he investigate and reveal same?

When you were gathering all this information that contradicted what most of the media was reporting regarding the link between Iraq and 9/11 and the existence of WMD. Did it then occur to you to tell your colleagues at media outlets such as the Washington Post and the NY Times that you are finding different information and they might be wrong?

Thank you for bringing two wonderful media journalists to us last night (you and Jon). I too get most of my news from Jon. What other journalist refuses to take Cheney's statements at face value? Only Jon goes back into the archive to prove that Cheney is lying. Nobody else does that.

You also did a nice piece on Josh, a great independent journalist, but what about people like Amy Goodman of Democracy Now? I believe she "got it right" too and she should also be honored on your show as well.

Lastly, I second somebody's comment to do a piece on the sad state of our elections. start researching at

This post is in response to Mark, who wrote: "For the record, you never once in your documentary showed the administration making direct claims over Iraq and 9/11. That's good--because they didn't."

In a March 18, 2003, letter to Congress, President Bush wrote: "... I determine that ... acting pursuant to the Constitution and the [Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002] is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including THOSE NATIONS, ORGANIZATIONS, OR PERSONS WHO PLANNED, AUTHORIZED, COMMITTED, OR AIDED THE TERRORIST ATTACKS THAT OCCURRED ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001" (emphasis added).


From the June 18, 2004, edition of the Washington Post: "'The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda,' Bush said after a Cabinet meeting."

Furthermore, Vice President Dick Cheney told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press": "Well, what we now have that's developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that's been pretty well confirmed, that [9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack."

Hmmmmm. What are they trying to insinuate?

Fascinating as I watched that you asked Peter Beinart about reporting the "truth." It was you, Mr. Moyers, who did not tell the truth about former Sec. of Interior James Watt and only after being "outed" did you apologize to the man for basically lazy reporting on your part.

Also funny to have you speak to Dan Rather about it when he lost his job over really lazy reporting over the President Bush "AWOL" story. For the record, you never once in your documentary showed the administration making direct claims over Iraq and 9/11. That's good--because they didn't. All intel services from Russia to Britain to France to Germany believed Saddam had WMD's. He didn't. We were wrong--but it seems a long way from saying the President "lied" us into a war...and it seems a really long way to go to interview everyone and his brother about it these facts.

Great program. I have wondered for sometime myself regarding the real "why" behind the decision to go into Iraq. It seems to me to be stated at least in part in the 1997 mission statement of the Project for a New American Century, who lists Bill Kristol as chairman. The signees are a "whose who" of people involved in and around the Bush administration's case for going to war.

Here in Georgia I had to wait until Sunday afternoon to see this show. It confirms so much of what I have felt for the past four years. Thank you for your honorable work. Please, please keep it up.

"But everyone, including the French, UN believed that Saddam had WMds." The trouble was that UN inspectors, led by lawyers, were looking for metaphysical level of certitiude that the WMDs did not exist. They kept the sanctions on while asking for this impossible level of evidence of "absence". It is unfortunate for us that this continues to be twisted to mean that all those people actually believed that Saddam had WMDs.

Great reporting. Like to see more about how the media looked forward to the high ratings and, thus, the big bucks covering a war would bring. Suggestion: start with the NBC 'Bloom-mobile' (when did development on this high tech embed machine start?).

The responsibility for effective journalism has always been and will remain with the journalists themselves, despite whatever pressures from the media ownership. It is tempting to look at the Murdochs of the world, but I believe that most journalists actually censor themselves, to keep from appearing too ambitious, or to have their writing appear too far from the norm of the hour. Eventually, this results in a general degradation of the craft and an abandonment of journalistic principles, as is so crisply illustrated in the Moyers documentary.

The deeper, bitter reality that this film illustrates is one all too familiar to anyone who approaches their own work seriously, whatever it may be: a job well done is no longer a civic virtue in this country. Few care anymore. The Washington press corps as a creature is merely one more example of gilded, groveling incompetence, albeit a deeply tragic one.

A previous post pointed a finger at our degradation into a culture of raw consumerism, and I think this is very close to a model for how we are allowing our country to collapse or, at best, to drift rudderless on it's gleeful and fear obsessed path to utter chaos.

We simply have not been paying enough attention. We have allowed bright artifice to usurp our own hard-won reality.

A big tip of the hat to Bill Moyers, but also (especially) to Warren Strobel and Johnahan Landay, for without their courage and doggedness the story would be one-dimensional and utterly without hope. Good work, gentlemen!

I'd like to raise again the point made several postings earlier -- it is a point I have NEVER seen addressed by any commentator about the Iraq war, and that is the whole issue of Iraq having flaunted U.N. Resolutions. But is it not the case that the U.N. Resolutions were calling on Iraq to 'come clean' with their WMD and dispose of them? Since the WMD's didn't exist, then they COULD NOT comply with them, just as their U.N. ababassador claimed at the time.

Yet long after the absence of WMD's was demonstrated Bush and others would fall back on the "violated U.N. Resolutions" as another reason for going to war. Forgetting for the moment the fallacies of that argument if it were true, since it is not even true -- Why were people allowed to make these ridiculous claims with no pushback? Was there something else going on with the U.N. Resolutions that I'm not aware of?

Thanks to Bill Moyers and all those who assited and played a role in making this program possible. It's the beginning in reclaiming America from the evils of neo consim. There is much more to expose but this first step is the
most important as it required the risk taking of taking on this vast powerful, wealthy group of what can only be termed Americas nemesis. My congratulations a nd gratitude for the demonstratig the skill and courage to take on these treacherous unpatriotic bunch.

I would like to add a small footnote to the information on the UN weapons inpections that preceded the Iraq war. Hans Blix, the head inspector, was quoted in a Stockholm newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, as saying (I quote approxmately from memory): "The Americans say they are giving us their best intelligence. Good God! I wonder what the rest is like."

With all the networks owned by corporations, and the papers owned by Murdoch it's no wonder all we can get for news is EXTRA Infotainment indepth reporting of Jlos big butt or next celebrity next week! Watch the network morning shows, they now have the weathermen going ga ga over intervieiwing ridicouls actors in ridiculous movies!

Everyone should boycott FOX NEWs since some of the culprits are still there. Fox is the cartoon network anyway. When the White House propaganda army hit Sunday news shows, prior to the war. I remeber I would watch one, flick the channel and watch the other as much as possible and thought to myself, this sounds like they all had some chip implanted in their brains. They were all parroting the same message. Even regular people including my aunt that is very religous got sucked into this belief that GWB is religous? Carl Rove played the religion card just as well as AlQuaida They must of been implating a Stepford chip at communion, while they drank the wine.

Bill Moyers' examination of the failure of the media to challenge the administration's march to war and the courageous and ethical reporting of Landay and Strobel was a breath of fresh air. I would suggest, however, that even this exemplary piece very carefully skirted any discussion of the role of AIPAC and the Israel Lobby in the media's message-shaping. Until we lay that out on the table as well as the other points that were raised in the show, this is not really a 360 look at how and why the mainstream media rolled over like dog to have its belly scratched, as our young men and women were dispatched to risk their lives and limbs for an indefensible agenda.

i'm psychiatrist and a viet nam vet. i find i was naive to think that the american public would tolerate being lied to about reasons for war after that incredibly immoral endevor. what is now much clearer to me is the knowingly criminal intent on the part of those who pushed for these wars. lying about justifications is one thing,killing people to promote democracy is another, making overt and cover efforts to keek us out of the world criminal court all speak to a criminal intent on the par of our leadership. i sincerely hope the drumbeat for impeachment reaches a creshendo. john bulette

Blessings on Bill Moyers for returning. With the loss of Molly Ivins, we need an ethical journalist guide. As hard as it was to review the events leading to the war, I am heartened that Mr. Moyers is giving us his gifts again. Regarding the segment on the press corps, I think this group should be our window into the work of the government. Remember the pseudo-journalist who sat with the corps for months, was called upon regularly, and who always threw out a soft question? Did anyone in the press corps ask "who is that guy? Where did he come from?" Someone from this group should have seen through this scam in the very early days.
Secondly, the traditional roast of a president by the press club seems obscene to me, not because of the way the president of the country is treated, but because I think it's almost impossible to mix socializing and objective scrutiny. Journalists need to avoid even any "appearance" of cronyism if credibility is to be earned and maintained. I will be organizing my life around the Bill Moylers program on PBS.

I wonder whether Messrs. Landay and Strobel can respond to my original point: Every single country on the planet believed that Saddam had WMD, and I think a large reason for that was that the UN's own Peacenik Par Excellence, Hans Blix, kept reporting that Saddam's government, according to the international community's best records, still had tons of anthrax, etc., and despite continued denials that it still owned those WMD, refused to provide documentation to prove that it had been destroyed. Like I said earlier, at the time, I could spit farther than how far I believed the Bushies in the winter of 2003. But after we kicked Saddam out of Kuwait, his government signed a ceasefire agreement that stated clearly it would COOPERATE in the divestiture of WMD from that country. And the ink was still wet when Saddam began playing cat and mouse with the UN inspectors. What about the UN reports by Blix as late as two weeks before invasion? Huh?

Thank you for an excellent and important program! While I knew much of what you covered reading AlterNet and News for Change on-line before the war, and watching Fahrenheit 911 after, the program was so thorough and well-documented that it was still shocking.

What really sticks with me is not that the press messed up, but that most of the reporters you interviewed (and those that wouldn't talk with you, a strange stance for a reporter to take), got away with it. The only one I know that lost her job was Judith Miller, and she left the NY Times because of the Valerie Plame scandal, not because of her Iraq reporting.

I wonder if people like Howard Dean, who got skewered in the media for speaking out against the war, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are getting blasted and misrepresented in the mainstream media because they are going against the President and many of the pundits. It seems like those who messed up are not going to admit wrongdoing (Dan Rather being a notable exception).

Thank you and kudos also to Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, who had a much harder job getting their articles through than Woodward and Bernstein. I hope you feature others like them on your program, such as Greg Palast, who are banished from the mainstream for doing the necessary, but apparently unpopular, task of investigative reporting.

Having a journalist of the caliber of Bill Moyers spring up out of the desert of news media wasteland is like a Beatles reunion. The quantity of truth told in the program the other evening, whatever weeknight it was, was refreshing, truth of quantity and quality usually found only in the comedic works of Saturday Night Live, Doonesbury, and John Stewart's show. For years I've been asking, why do we have to go to the comic pages and comedians to get the astute observation of the absurdity of the human condition, commerce, politics, and militaristic advances of fascism into the US government, the unrelenting assault of the fascists on Constitutional democracy? I didn't see or hear anything that was a stretch of the truth or an out-of-context misuse of video quotation. It was a distillation of the facts out of the avalanche of data and video focused on the strategic elements of this attack on human freedom that the Faux news media seem to have lost their competence for distilling.
I'm still waiting for someone to charge treason. I'm charging it with all the power vested in me as a citizen under the Constitution of the United States. The lies of the G. W. Bush administration that have misled the world into a horrific, undeclared war which, if an end is possible, the how of it eludes me, is treason. The only way we, the people of the United States of America can logically and legally ask the world to forgive us our loss of control of our government is to charge the treasonists and bring them to justice, and try to make reparations. If the lowliest soldier told lies and got anyone hurt, let alone hundreds of thousands killed, millions made refugees, he would be charged and likely hung or shot by firing squad, jailed at least. Here the government, led by a gang of violent extremists with a fascist agenda, has committed crimes against humanity, the American people as much the victim as all others. America has never been so threatened as when these violent extremists who have seized power in the Republican party, at the national level, and many state and community levels, have perverted democracy and Christianity in tandem for their own agenda of political goals, possibly ethnic goals, and financial looting of the private sector and public treasury, violating every clause of the Constitution. Welcome back Mr. Moyers and company. I'd love to see The Secret Government: Constitution In Crisis, again. The warnings there were cautions of the very condition we find ourselves in today. The Republican Guard, minders worthy of Saddam Hussein, now sit at the doors of PBS. We are afraid, and with good cause, and only truth can triumph over falsehood.

My hat is off and I am bowing low to Bill Moyers and the Knight Ridder team. The Moyers piece was wonderful and should be required viewing in high school and university civics,journalism, and political science courses. An elephant in the room, unaddressed, is the manic participation and echo-chambering of the Safires, Krauthammers, Millers, Perles Kristols etc. and their link to the Israel lobby. Would someone have the courage to explore this please.

If not for WMD, why go to war? Warren Strobel's answers are true, but let us not forget two other important reasons:
5) that for a group of Evangelical Fundamentalists who support the Bush Administration, this war is the end game of god's plan of the End Times.
6) For an overlapping group of Holy Warriors, War has been and continues to be extremely profitable business.

Wheree has all the Iraqi Oil and the money it generates gone over the last four years?

Where has the $trillion US spent gone?

We have devalued our nation, our curancy has lost 50% of its buying power over the course of the Bush administration.

The wealth has been transfered to the pockets of murders.

The Danger of Plagiarism - How Collin Powell lied to the U.N.

Anyone who watched Bill Moyers journal, Buying the War, last Wednesday could see that Moyers was just restating the facts. He wanted to lay the foundation and remind the general public about the lies that have been sold to the public to get support for an illegal war of aggression against Iraq. Anyone who knows the truth, anyone who reads, anyone with a mind, understands the facts about the war and was already well aware of everything Moyers laid out.

However, there was something in "Buying the War" that I hadn't heard before, that then Secretary of State, Collin Powell, in his now infamous speech to the United Nations, in February 2003, used fabricated intelligence plagiarized from the internet, from a University of California student dissertation, written 15 years earlier, about the IRAQ pre-first Gulf War.

Below is an excerpt - see original.

The media spin after U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's UN speech on February 5, 2003, was about as dynamic as a Fox News debate. Cheerleading talking heads immediately took to the airwaves to discern whether or not Powell succeeded in building a consensus for war. Did he pull it off?
Missing from the whole "was Powell convincing?" choir was any question regarding whether Powell was telling the truth. Yes, I thought Powell was convincing, but historian Howard Zinn's voice suddenly popped into my head, arguing as a key rule that journalists "never trust government officials--from any government."
One embarrassing revelation about Powell's speech was that a key part of his evidence against Iraq was cut and pasted from a California graduate student's outdated academic paper, ripped directly from the Internet. In academia, we call this plagiarism. Stealing something straight off of a website, an act easily detected by feeding a string of words into a Google search, is plagiarism in its cheesiest form. Students who do it fail classes--this is nonnegotiable. In Powell's case, he isn't the plagiarizer. He properly cited a British intelligence service report--four pages of which were ripped off without citation, complete with spelling and grammatical errors--from a paper that appeared in October 2002 in an obscure academic journal.
The Brits, for their part, changed a few words here and there, inflated numbers, and added the term terrorist to make the Iraqis appear more ominous than the student-author intended. The student told the British newspaper, the Mirror, that the misuse of his doctored work represented "wholesale deception." Ominous or not, however, 97 percent of the citations in his paper were three to fifteen years old, rendering the whole package useless in a speech challenging Iraq's compliance to the UN inspection regimen. The U.S. Secretary of State--with this trash in his hand--addressed the United Nations Security Council, calling for the commencement of a war that might never end. For the U.S. media, the only question worth asking was whether Powell's sham was convincing.

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the story on the "WMD", suggests an agenda that has not been addressed by anyone.
This is a plot for a "One World Order". This is obvious. George Bush senior stated that that"s what America would be a part of. Being in your profession, i find it incredible that you all are not aware of this fact.

The Patriotism Police has not left the house and to this day "real news" take a back seat to info-tainment.
But suffice to say that the malady aflicting the media is clearly evidenced by the fact there was more air-time given both on TV and Radio to the Anna Nicole Smith freakshow than the Libby trial.
If we are to believe that true reporting is not being manipulated to obscure the facts, then how do we explain the bias towards sensationalist but meaningless bits.

I have been a journalist all my adult life. Moyers' special describes what I think must be the greatest failure of journalism in my lifetime -- and the utter bankruptcy of Inside the Beltway journalism (so called). As a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, I call your attention to the Society's code of ethics ( It is a pity, but nearly every part of the code was violated by the 'bigfoot' journalists and pundits cited on Moyers' special. As for the men from Knight Ridder: Well Done!

This program was extremely helpful. I continue to be dismayed, however, by the failure to refer to the work of Scott Ritter to refute the canard that everyone believed Saddam had WMD. Scott Ritter was a weapons inspector in 1998, a Marine colonel, and a career officer in military intelligence. During the runup to the Iraq war, Colonel Ritter was traveling around the country telling all kinds of groups that it was highly unlikely that Saddam had any WMD. He was extremely articulate and knowledgeable. He provided detailed reasons for his conclusions. For the most part, the main-stream press froze him out of the national discussion.

I would have thought that a program such as this one would have given his work much more prominence. (There was one oblique reference, but only those familiar with his work would have known what it meant.)

Ritter was both patriotic and prophetic. If nothing else, he deserves to be acknowledged now for having been right and for having had the courage to speak up when others were attacking him for doing so.

Perhaps this oversight/omission can be rectified in a subsequent program.

All the best,

Mike Palmer

Agree that wnet way behind the
times..if I see Richard Perle
again on TV i will puke..he's one of the worst necons.. we need new younger commentators
who are brave enough to tell
the truth. What ever happened
to Phil Donahue?


As I watched your program the other night I was cheering for Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay, and all the other many journalists of integrity who did try to speak a word of truth into the thrumming cadence of the Bush war machine. I’ve traveled to Iraq several times, the last time just months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Often people want to know what I’ve learned through those experiences. They are surprised when I tell them that the most important lesson is the urgent need for Americans to reject the forces that would turn us into blind consumers of goods and ideologies, and reclaim our citizenship, our voices, and our right of self-governance. The future of the entire world depends on this. The decisions we citizens of the United States make about our government in many ways determine the fate of vulnerable people all over our planet. Truth-seeking journalists who are un-cowed by the forces that would silence them are an absolute necessity for our democracy. Thank you Bill Moyers, for being a beacon of hope in the midst of some of the darkest days in our country’s history.

Well, I dunno. I live in Paris, France and it was clear as a bell to me that the rush to war was hype. I wonder why more Americans at home didn't see this. Yes, I can understand the shock at 9/11, though you know, we in Europe have been through periods of terrorist activities, and while not on the scale of 9/11, it was distinctly uncomfortable to take a subway ride while the Algerian terrorists were placing bombs on the Paris subway lines. But we survived. And it was considered a police action which ultimately prevailed, not an excuse to blindly lash out at anybody and anything. Same with the horrendous bombings of major railway stations in Italy.

I wonder why the American public couldn't consider it in the same light. Are they too isolated from the rest of the world?

I can't get the name of Bill Krystal out of my head. I see this jackel with the Joker Smile on Fox every Sunday. He's just another Newt, Ken Star, Rove, Abramoff. The guy has got to go!

I congratulate Jonathan Landay, Warren Strobel and Bill Moyers for doing a great job!

And it is great to have you back on PBS Mr. Moyer.

The Iraq war was lost the moment it was conceived in deception by the Bush regime that justified it under false pretenses and launched it without UN approval thereby violating international law and the US Constitution in the process. In a more balanced world these acts would be largely recognized as crimes and the perpetrators would, if our systems of government and justice were not broke and corrupt, be held to account in the highest courts of law. But there is little likelihood this will come to pass, further contaminating the soul of our collective integrity.

Rather, these criminals will live out a hero’s life, entombed with honor.

Tragically, we can not recover the loss in human treasury these criminals have wrought upon the world. But perhaps some of the billions of dollars lost through this thievery could be recovered if they and those companies robbing for profit where mandated to return the gains and personal family fortunes to the US treasury. But there is little likelihood this will come to pass.

Rather, these criminals and their future generations will live as royalty, while you, I and our future generations will sacrifice, sweat, and toil.

Resounding the applause for another excellent Bill Moyer's Frontline airing and special Kudos to Landay and Strobel for seeking answers to overwhelming reporting. We American's question what's going on too, but you are there as experts with the pulse on the topics and you know where to research for seeking answers to finding the truth. That's what we rely on, hearing both sides. We are certainly able to decide who to believe. Know that your thoroughness in reporting IS appreciated!
As another tip to those who are interested in learning more about our current cynicism can review Lee Iacocca's book, "Where Have All the Leader's Gone?" "sets America straight and trumpets a return to common sense."
We ask you to keep up the educated research, great investigating, writing and publishing as we respectfully admire those who challenge the norm. Best regards,

Great to see you back, Bill! Excellent show on Weds. Looking forward to each and every one of your Journals!

Not all media and news outlets were bamboozled. The "New Yorker" did a fine job of debunking most of the garbage that was reported and asserted by the Bush administration. Their online portfolio on the Iraq War is quite good. Moreover, one problem that occurs to me is the inept analysis of our media even on the Lehrer Report. The UN inspectors constantly reported that there were no weapons, yet the media never challenged the assertions of the Bush Administration that until Iraq was in compliance with UN resolutions for disarmament, force could be used to make Iraq disarm. How does one disarm when one has already done so? No one pushed back on this point, and as a result folks believed that Iraq had arms even though UN inspectors were beginning to doubt that any were there. The Bush Administration used crass political tactics to take us to war. They won the campaign for invasion and are now in the midst of governing over a catastrophe. When will the the deaths from this adventure exceed the number of Iraqis killed by Hussein? What a shameful mess.

Today I read in the Washington Post an article mocking Dennis Kucinich for his attempt at impeaching Cheney. The arrogant tone, assuming the reader would, too, conclude this was ridiculous, instead of justice, and would be similarly chastened if any such ideas occurred in his or her head. I happened to read it just minutes after watching your program online. And I was struck with sadness and then struggled on toward hope when 15 pages and counting of readers comments slammed that article. It's journalists like you, Mr. Moyers, and politicians such as congressman Kucinich, who do their work with a serious amount of integrity. A rare thing and truly valued. Don't let them push you off the air again.

It was refreshing to see Bill's program, specially after that discouraging show by Charlie Rose. I would like Bill to ask Charlie what was the purpose of him talking to George Bush. Is Charlie trying out for Tony Snow's job?

Ken Strom -

Click "Watch & Listen" above, and you can stream the whole documentary.

I greatly enjoyed the program, but I was disappointed that there was not more discussion of Scott Ritter. He was, of course, no less than a former weapons inspector who was adamant and extremely vocal about the lack of threat from Iraq. Why was he not covered more by journalists? It still baffles me.

Many are mentioning that AIPAC has been highly involved in the architecture leading up to the war. What are your thoughts on their involvement? Do they have that big of an influence in our government and in this war?

I am 54 years old and maybe some lessons that I learned young in life are dying hard but what PBS shared through the Moyers special hit the mark with me. You see I have been asking as well, "What has happened to America, to our press corp, where is everybody, holy cow it's as if we are all sleeping." And I asked that because I am from a generation that did not sit idly by and just let life happen AFTER we got embroiled in a foreign situation that back then quietly escalated into a full blown war. I lost friends to that war, some came home wounded and would never be 100% percent, but just the same they were Americans, proud to have served. We were all confused too for the most part because we were young and not sure how to navigate the waters between patriotic duty or getting mad as hell. We came just coming short of rioting against the outrageousness that most of us did not understand. Blindly, we moved forward supporting our leaders the way our teachers and parents had taught us to respect them but also we were ever so aware of our rights due to class that is not taught any more, Civics Class. The Press was relentless, nothing stopped them from reporting. Remember Dan Rather at the Chicago Democratic Convention? We sing, "God shed His grace on thee" and right now we have to hope so because the press, which represents freedom of speech to a lot of us hay seeds, has gone to dinner with the other team. HELLO! Anybody in there? I hurt because I wonder where the heck has all the real stand up gutsy American reporters gone? Did big money buy up all the major influencial resources? Can you imagine an America without the news of Watergate and it was the press that broke that story... See what I mean, I have been still trusting those resources, every single one them and it hurts to think that they sold us out. Makes me miss Murrow, Chronkite, Reasoner, Mudd, Woodward, and a host of unsung hereos behind the scenes who put their duty first. We lived with an ideal, we firmly believed that this nation was indivisible, and it showed on all levels. Now we have a pablum puking weak kneed lot that serves and accepts and does not look out for the welfare of their fellow Americans. Where the hell did their sense of duty go? Maybe we should bring back those Civics classes so that young people learn what rights they have and why. Thanks belongs to all of you brave people that sat in front of the camera the other night. At least there is a ray of hope, a glimmer of the greatness that the press corp represented that is still alive. We are not dead, we can change it.

I have to congratulate both Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel as well as Bill Moyers for doing a great job.

The sad thing is they are just doing 'their job'.

This whole mess makes me think that the Bush administration has committed grave crimes against us the American people and the people of Iraq.

What are going to be the legal consequences if any, that the Bush administration will pay for taking our country down this horrific path?

Also I wish people would stop blaming Israel for very problem in the Middle East. It's getting old and it does not do anything to enhance the discussion on this topic.

I will now be reading these two reporters. Why isn't there a general news reporting show on pbs, besides the lehrer newshour that pushed more for the truth? The newshour is too respectful of the power centers. Lehrer likes to interview the top administration people.There's a place for this but we need some competing news show on pbs also. Public tax supports pbs, but it's corporate support shuts out opposition. Radio/tv opponents to the war are labeled left wing fringe. Tonight this great Moyers program shows it’s time to bring them into the mainstream

I am surprised (and not) to see that a series of questions are not being asked in the report. They would be helpful though to understand the motives of the US Government to wage war against Iraq:

It is clear that there are political movements within the Gulf States that will be further destabilizing the local governments.
Saudi Arabia's relationship to the US as a reliable political partner will eventually change.
Did the USA have a vested interested to put their feet on the ground in Iraq and establish a longterm military base in the region that will enable them to intervene when things do not go along their way?

By controlling the oil reserves in Iraq you can influence the price for the barrel considerably. How much in financial terms (down to the buck) did Bush and his cronies earn ever since the US entered the war against Iraq?
Is it possible that individuals in the US Goverment staged the war for very personal reasons among others?

What are the financial benefits in exact numbers for the US corporations that supply material and services used in the war?
Where would they stand today had there not been the war against Iraq?

Best regards
Panos Papoutsis

The letters section of a newspaper and the blogs online are the free-est places today for citizen communication and information gathering. We here in Maine were looking forward to Moyer's recent program, tuned in at 9.m., only to discover it superceded by MPBN's annual ten day 4 hour evening long auction. Now, grant you, in light of constant funding cuts, forcing more and more corporate "sponsorship" from the likes of Archer-Daniels Midland and Merck, this is important.

But is it really more important than allowing a truth-starved citizenry immediate (and not "sometime in May") access to this all too rare enlightenment?

Impeachment against Cheney, for starters, was introduced in the Senate this week by Kucinich. This is the time and place to pursue the punishment of those responsible for the high war crimes, lies, misdemeanors, and treachery of the administration.

Trust has been betrayed on a grand scale, not least in the stolen Ohio election, which, so far, I have not seen the NYT cover. See Robert F. Kennedy Jr.,s August? 06 article in Rolling Stone, detailing the stolen votes. Current federal crime (denying voting rights) is currently being prosecuted in Ohio. Was this covered by NYT? I did see a lengthy article the same week in early April about the Bush administration's (backed up by the justice dept.) "aggressive pursuit of 'voter fraud',which concluded it was really not a problem. Not one word regarding the Republican party's endemic, systematic, aggressive, purposeful disenfranchisement of minority, poor, young voters, or the court case.

Over 120,000 (conservative estimate) votes were denied, and this does not even begin to deal with machine tampering, vote-switching, etc. Bush "won" in Ohio by around 118,000 votes. See the recent book review at Amazon by Fritakis and Wasserman, documenting the above.Check out online: truthout, Amy Goodman's democracynow . Why cannot other websites be named here? Read Howard Zinn's People's History, and Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent and anything recent, like Hegemony or Power. Look up Vidal, Mailer. Check out Save the internet, else our public communication may be reduced to posting fliers on telephone poles, not websites. Wake up America before we are totally dumbed down!.

I missed the show. Will it be aired again?

The letters section of a newspaper and the blogs online are the free-est places today for citizen communication and information gathering. We here in Maine were looking forward to Moyer's recent program, tuned in at 9.m., only to discover it superceded by MPBN's annual ten day 4 hour evening long auction. Now, grant you, in light of constant funding cuts, forcing more and more corporate "sponsorship" from the likes of Archer-Daniels Midland and Merck, this is important.

But is it really more important than allowing a truth-starved citizenry immediate (and not "sometime in May") access to this all too rare enlightenment?

Impeachment against Cheney, for starters, was introduced in the Senate this week by Kucinich. This is the time and place to pursue the punishment of those responsible for the high war crimes, lies, misdemeanors, and treachery of the administration.

Trust has been betrayed on a grand scale, not least in the stolen Ohio election, which, so far, I have not seen the NYT cover. See Robert F. Kennedy Jr.,s August? 06 article in Rolling Stone, detailing the stolen votes. Current federal crime (denying voting rights) is currently being prosecuted in Ohio. Was this covered by NYT? I did see a lengthy article the same week in early April about the Bush administration's (backed up by the justice dept.) "aggressive pursuit of 'voter fraud',which concluded it was really not a problem. Not one word regarding the Republican party's endemic, systematic, aggressive, purposeful disenfranchisement of minority, poor, young voters, or the court case.

Over 120,000 (conservative estimate) votes were denied, and this does not even begin to deal with machine tampering, vote-switching, etc. Bush "won" in Ohio by around 118,000 votes. See the recent book ( review) by Fritakis and Wasserman, documenting the above.Check out online:, Amy Goodman's Read Howard Zinn's People's History, and Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent and anything recent, like Hegemony or Power. Look up Vidal, Mailer. Check out Save the internet, else our public communication may be reduced to posting comments/news on telephone poles, not websites. Wake up America before we are totally dumbed down!.

Dear Folks,
We are only having this conversation because the war is going badly. If things had gone better for the military, the press would still be a joke.

Thank you so much for your candid remarks and for coming forward to talk about this in such a public way.

And thanks to Bill Moyers and PBS for not only telling the truth, but for giving the public insight into the way the mass media can operate as a propaganda machine for warmakers.

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