The U.S. press corps appears to have learned little or nothing from the Iraq debacle as a new crisis looms with Iran.
Yet, the most dangerous parallel between the misreporting on Iraq and the current hysteria about Iran may be that major U.S. news outlets, especially the New York Times and the Washington Post, continue to paint the disputes in black and white and leave shades of gray out of the frame.
In doing so, these news organizations again are casting aside their own rules about objectivity and balance. Just like in the run-up to the Iraq War, they obsess about a villain (with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad replacing Iraq’s Saddam Hussein) – and have thrown down the memory hole inconvenient facts and important context.
For instance, prior to the June 12 election in Iran, it was well known and widely reported that President George W. Bush had signed a covert action finding targeting Iran’s Islamic government with a major program of propaganda and political destabilization.
In the July 7, 2008, New Yorker magazine, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote that late the previous year, Congress had agreed to Bush’s request for a major escalation in covert operations against Iran to the tune of up to $400 million.
“The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” one person familiar with its contents told Hersh. The operation involved “working with opposition groups and passing money,” the person said. Read more .