Last week on CNBC's "Topic A with Tina Brown," Christiane Amanpour said "I think the press was muzzled, and I think the press self-muzzled" in coverage of the Iraq invasion, "intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News."
"It's not a question of couldn't do it, it's a question of tone," the veteran correspondent said. "It's a question of being rigorous. It's really a question of really asking the questions. All of the entire body politic in my view, whether it's the administration, the intelligence, the journalists, whoever, did not ask enough questions, for instance, about weapons of mass destruction. I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels."
Well, excuse my French but that was apparent to anybody who watched with even a half-closed eye. Most mainstream media south of the border, and even some up here were unabashedly pro-war, accepting everything and questioning nothing put out by the Bushies.
And there was no greater offender than Fox News, the channel that essentially elected that administration in the first place.
Recall that, on election night 2000, when the votes were neck-and-neck for Bush and Democratic contender Al Gore, Fox declared at 2:16 a.m. that Bush had taken Florida and therefore the presidency. The other networks and some East Coast newspapers jumped in, setting the tone for the dispute that followed for weeks afterwards, a dispute that made Gore look like a sore loser.
But, as it turned it, the director of the Fox electoral desk that made that faux call was John Ellis, a staunch Republican and Bush cousin who would later boast to The New Yorker that, on election night, he spoke frequently with both Dubya and his brother Jeb, governor of Florida.
Predictably, Fox is unrepentant. Spokeswoman Irena Briganti said, "Given the choice, it's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than a spokeswoman for al-Qaeda."
Maybe Ms. Briganti should be less concerned with what she's viewed as, and more concerned with what she is. It's better, in my opinion, to be a concerned patriot who's seen as a traitor than a toadying sycophant who's seen as a patriot.