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US Media Shamed by Brit Journalist at Blair/Bush Press Conference


By Dave Lindorff

At this point, it seems almost pointless to say it, but once again, the corporate media in America have been exposed as a cowardly mass of toadies who cannot bring themselves to publish or air anything remotely critical of the administration unless compelled to do so by cattle prods...or a reporter from a foreign news organization.

The current example of this pathetic behavior is the page one treatment finally accorded--after a fashion--to the damning memorandum delivered to British PM Tony Blair back in the summer of 2002 by his chief of intelligence, informing him of a meeting with U.S. officials, where he learned that the US planned to invade Iraq, and that the reasons for doing so, and the intelligence would be "fixed" to justify the action.

Although this devastating memo surfaced in the UK over a month ago, and has been the lead story in Britain for some time, where it has thoroughly destroyed whatever credibility the prime minister still had, it has been largely buried in the U.S. media if it was mentioned at all, and in every case it has been presented not as evidence of President Bush's criminal behavior in lying to the American public to create a war, but as a problem for Blair.

Now, thanks to Blair's visit to Bush, and to the presence of less deferential British journalists at a joint White House press conference--instead of the usual White House press corps stenographers and TV airheads--Bush was forced to address the question of the memorandum, and the American media were forced to mention it. (The New York Times did so on page 7, the Philadelphia Inquirer, for the first time, on page 1). The question was asked by a Reuters reporter, Steve Holland.

Even so, the subsequent articles were cast, embarrassingly, as reaction pieces, with headlines like the one in the NY Times ("Bush and Blair Deny `Fixed' Iraq Reports"). In the case of papers like the Philadelphia Inquirer, this embarrassment was compounded. Inquirer readers might have been pardoned for being perplexed at reading a page one story headlined "`02 memo on Iraq is rebutted." It reads like a classic second-day follow-up story, but how would a reader know what the "`02 memo" reference meant, since there was no first story about the memo.

Bush himself chose not to respond directly to Holland's question, which was whether the `02 memorandum presented to Blair was "an accurate reflection of what happened" at the White House. Instead, Bush said that the memo was "not credible" because of how it had surfaced--in the middle of Blair

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