Washington Post

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The Post on the war in Iraq

In a review of the Washington Post's coverage of the build up to the war, the paper's media critic, Howard Kurtz, interviewed a range of reporters and editors for a major front page story.

Reporter Karen DeYoung explained the extensive coverage given to Administration authority figures to Kurtz somewhat fatalistically. "We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power - If the president stands up and says something, we report what the president said." [1]

The Posts's Pentagon correspondent, Thomas Ricks, told Kurtz that "the paper was not front-paging stuff ... Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?".

Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr.,told Kurtz that "the voices raising questions about the war were lonely ones ... We didn't pay enough attention to the minority."

Kurtz also interviewed Michael Massing, author of the forthcoming book Now They Tell Us, reviewing the media coverage of the war in Iraq. "In covering the run-up to the war, The Post did better than most other news organizations, featuring a number of solid articles about the Bush administration's policies. But on the key issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the paper was generally napping along with everyone else. It gave readers little hint of the doubts that a number of intelligence analysts had about the administration's claims regarding Iraq's arsenal," he said.

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