It’s been said that being a TV pundit means never having to say you’re sorry. But you can demand that other people apologize for being right. And being wrong doesn’t seem to affect certain pundits’ ability to gobble up airtime.
This came to mind seeing National Review editor Rich Lowry on Meet the Press on March 23, offering his analysis of Russia:
Angela Merkel said that famous remark that she talked to Putin and he was living in a different world, that’s literally true. We all thought we were living in a post-Cold War world where everyone accepted basic, international norms. He’s living in a world where he can take territory through lies and force of arms.
This wasn’t Lowry’s only appearance; he was on CBS’s Face the Nation (3/9/14) a few weeks earlier explaining that Obama’s weakness was a a factor in Putin’s Crimea move: “When president of the United States is not respected or feared around the world, it does create a more permissive environment.”
If you’re familiar with Lowry, you might know that he’s not one to shy away from advocating massive military attacks. He shared some of his post-9/11 thoughts with the Washington Post (9/13/01):
America roused to a righteous anger has always been a force for good. States that have been supporting, if not Osama bin Laden, people like him, need to feel pain. If we flatten part of Damascus or Tehran or whatever it takes, that is part of the solution.
So attacks on countries that had nothing to do with the attacks were one way to demonstrate how the United States can be “a force for good.” That gives you a sense of the kind of analysis Lowry brings to the table.
But when you hear someone on TV talking about an invasion launched on “lies and force of arms,” you might naturally wonder what this person thought of the Iraq invasion. And it will come as no surprise that Lowry was a fierce proponent of that war based on “lies and force of arms.”
In fact, Lowry appeared on one Sunday show–Face the Nation (2/23/03)–to promote the false claim that Iraq was in cahoots with Al-Qaeda:
There is a connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda. There is no division in the US government about this anymore. Everyone agrees there’s 10 years’ worth of contacts between Iraq and Al-Qaeda.
Host Bob Schieffer actually pushed back on that a bit, but Lowry held firm, saying that government officials had shown “that there have been connections between Iraqi intelligence and Al-Qaeda all through the 1990s.”
Then weeks after the invasion (Townhall, 4/11/03), Lowry penned a column headlined “Naysayers Exposed” that demanded some accountability from those who had predicted the war would be so difficult:
The eternal frustration of political debate is that big, complicated issues take so long to play out that it’s difficult to tell who was right and who was wrong. Not so in the war in Iraq.
Yes, three weeks after the invasion, “we already know whether the invasion was a military disaster, and whether the Iraqis cheered our arrival. On these two counts, the level of sheer, cussed wrongness among journalists and Bush critics is stunning.” Lowry has a list of pundits who got Iraq wrong, and worries that there will be no accountability for their foolish criticism of the Bush administration:
As time erases the memory of their words, the naysayers will simply be willfully pessimistic about the next US intervention.
In reality, of course, these were the people who were right–the invasion ended up costing hundreds of thousands of lives, and left Iraqis concluding that in most ways their country was worse off–and the person who should have been held accountable is Rich Lowry. But he’s still on TV, pontificating about all manner of things. He’s lucky the TV producers who keep putting him on the air don’t seem to care about his record. If there was any accountability in corporate media he’d be nowhere near a TV studio.