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How the Media Fueled the War in Iraq

It is time for our media to offer us – and the people of Iraq – an apology, and make sure this sort of thing never happens again.

Yesterday, the U.S. marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. And, over the course of the past ten years, we’ve learned more and more about how the war with Iraq actually started.

It’s incredibly easy to blame the Bush administration for its lies that led us into Iraq. But Cheney, Rumsfeld and company weren’t the only ones who played an integral role in convincing this nation that Saddam Hussein was a threat, and that WMD’s were a forgone conclusion.

In the days and weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq, corporate media – and even NPR and PBS – were abuzz with the talking points of the Bush Administration, echoing claims that Iraq had its hands on “yellow cake uranium” and that it had a massive arsenal of “weapons of mass destruction.”

Thanks to the media’s repeated claims that Iraq and Saddam Hussein were immediate threats to our nation, in the weeks leading up to the invasion, nearly three-quarters of Americans believed the lie promoted by Donald Rumsfeld that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the attacks of 9/11.

One of the biggest proponents of the Iraq War was Bill O’Reilly.

Nearly every day leading up to the invasion of Iraq, O’Reilly used his pedestal on Fox so-called News to pitch the pro-war lies of the Bush Administration.

In March of 2003, prior to the invasion of Iraq, O’Reilly interviewed actress and political activist Janeane Garofalo, about her opposition towards going to war with Iraq.

O’Reilly asked Garofalo if she would apologize to President Bush if she was wrong, and if it turned out that the United States went into Iraq, was met with jubilant America-loving crowds of Iraqis, and in fact found “all kinds of bad, bad stuff.”

Garofalo responded that she would gladly go to the White House, get on her knees, and apologize to Bush if she were wrong, but added that she didn’t think she would be.

Guess what. She was right. And O’Reilly, as usual, was wrong.

Our soldiers were not met by throngs of Iraqis who loved America. And we certainly didn’t find “all kinds of bad, bad stuff.”

So the real question here is, ten years after being so wrong, why hasn’t Bill O’Reilly apologized to Garofalo, and to the American public, for misleading us so badly?

In 2004, O’Reilly was on ABC’s Good Morning America, and offered a half-hearted apology for being so wrong. He said that, “Well, my analysis was wrong and I’m sorry.. I was wrong. I’m not pleased about it at all.”

But shouldn’t O’Reilly get down on his hands and knees, and offer a real apology to all of us, for being a mouthpiece of the Bush administration’s deeply misguided mission to invade Iraq?

And why stop there? O’Reilly shouldn’t be the only one apologizing to the American people.

After all, O’Reilly wasn’t the only one in the media to make the case for war with Iraq using the Bush administration’s lies.

Another shill for the Bush administration was Sean Hannity.

On a February 19th, 2003 episode of Hannity & Colmes, Hannity told Fox News contributor Ellis Henican that, “We’re going to go in and we’re going to liberate this country in a few weeks and it’s going to be over very quickly. No, it’s going to be over very quickly. And what I’m going to tell you here is, you’re going to find, I predict, mass graves. We’re going to open up those — hang on, let me finish — those gulags and those prisons and you’re going to hear stories of rape and torture and misery, and then we’re going to find all of the weapons of mass destruction that all of you guys on the left say don’t exist.”

Clearly, Hannity was wrong about the war. Shouldn’t he apologize to the American people?

Then there’s Steve Hayes, a Fox News contributor and writer for the conservative publication The Weekly Standard.

He repeatedly used his columns in the The Weekly Standard and his time on Fox so-called News to push the now debunked lie that Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were inextricably linked.

In fact, Hayes even wrote a book about the so-called link, called “The Connection: How Al Qaeda’s Collaboration With Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America.”

But as we all know, he was wrong too. So where’s his apology?

Then there’s Hayes’ colleague at Fox News, Charles Krauthammer. At the time of the war, Krauthammer was a Fox News contributor and columnist for the Washington Post.

And, much like Hayes, he used his power of the pen to argue that the Iraq War would usher in unprecedented levels of democracy in the Middle East.

In April of 2002, he wrote in the Washington Post that, “Time is running short. Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. He is working on nuclear weapons. And he has every incentive to pass them on to terrorists who will use them against us. We cannot hold the self-defense of the United States hostage to the solving of a century-old regional conflict.”

Krauthammer was 100 percent wrong about the Iraq War.

Finally, there’s MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. He was one of the strongest proponents of war with Iraq outside of Fox News.

In March of 2003, he repeatedly made claims that toppling Saddam Hussein would “mean the end of his weapons of mass destruction.”

In April of 2003, Scarborough said that, “For six months now, George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have been telling the world that the people of Iraq needed to be liberated from Saddam Hussein’s bloody reign. The past three weeks have shown us just how right these three men have been.”

In that same commentary, Scarborough pondered whether “journalists at The New York Times and NPR or at ABC or at CNN are going to ever admit just how wrong their negative pronouncements were over the past four weeks.”

Well Joe, turns out the occasional anti-war activists who made it onto the mainstream media – and they were few and far between – were right, and you were wrong. So where’s your apology?

Ten years after going to a war based on intentional lies, and after thousands of American lives have been lost, the majority of the media has yet to offer any semblance of an apology for being so wrong, and for not playing the real role of journalism and questioning the Bush administration hard.

The media failed us leading up to the Iraq War, and its cost hundreds of thousands of human beings their lives and the United States has lost both trillions of dollars and our standing in the world as a moral force.

It’s time for our media to offer us – and the people of Iraq – an apology. And make sure this sort of thing never happens again.

Like it’s getting ready to with Iran…

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