Brooke Gladstone on the Media and the War in Iraq

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Brooke Gladstone

Brooke Gladstone of WNYC’s On The Media discusses how the American press corps handled the lead up to the Iraq War and the subsequent turns and scandals in the conflict.


Brooke Gladstone

Comments [24]

I've got news Brooke. Probably more new than you've EVER come up with on your own...


Mar. 19 2013 07:55 PM

...all with that BAD makeup, smug smile and "journalist's" glasses.


Mar. 19 2013 07:53 PM

This woman should be fired from journalism!

"...we can only follow the lead of Congress."



Mar. 19 2013 07:51 PM
Noach (Independent, Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

Dick Hughes wrote,
"I would rather have a raving hawk presenting an apology for ventures like Iraq than a "balanced" commentator sweeping repeated errors under the rug."


Indeed, it is the support for such policies from "liberal" voices, such as the New York Times and NPR, that is most convincing and therefore the most dangerous. It is precisely for this reason that such entities function as effective /gatekeepers/ for the establishment; the corporate-military-ruling sector.

Hundreds of the likes of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilley, et al, cannot do the damage that just one Thomas Friedman ("Suck on this") can.

Beware the wolf in sheep's clothing.

Mar. 19 2013 03:15 PM

This is a depressing interview. Lesson not learned, apparently.

Mar. 19 2013 02:51 PM
Noach (Independent, Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

@ "resident alien from williamsburg", 01:24 PM:

"It was sad and eyeopening how the US news media ate it all up, including NPR (with the notable & noble exception of Terry Gross). "

Would you, perhaps, be able to provide any links to examples of what you cite regarding Terry Gross? (I'm not disputing you, I would just be interested to hear examples. I haven't listened too much to Gross.)

"a deeply disillusioned resident alien since 1991."

The trick to avoiding becoming disillusioned is to not harbor illusions in the first place. But not to worry, we were all once young and (at least somewhat) naive. It took me years to reject some of the key assumptions and assertions that, from the youngest age, have been inculcated into all of us from society.

Mar. 19 2013 02:48 PM
Noach (Independent, Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

@ "MorganPaar", 12:17:
When you consider the history and nature of the New York Times, is the Judith Miller case you describe really so shocking?

Has the Times ever opposed a war from the beginning?

Are you aware of the case of former Times writer Chris Hedges?

@ "Maryl from Manhattan",
"No one has addressed Why. What was the Bush admin thinking? Hoping to accomplish?"

Noam Chomsky argues that the motive was the establishment of permanent military bases and strategic control of the oil resources. Chomsky is also quick to point-out that the Bush administration was continuing policies and a philosophy that was embraced by Clinton and other previous administrations.

George W. Bush and his administration are easy targets but people should realize that many people have made the case that on matters of foreign policy and civil liberties, at least, the Obama administration is really no better and actually worse in at least certain respects. Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald are among the people who make this case compellingly. I recall hearing Daniel Ellsberg say, several years ago now, that the Obama administration has been the worst on whistleblowers.

@ Leo from Queens, 12:45:
"But the key problem is that most media outlets are owned by a few wealthy individuals who have a narrative that they want to present regardless of the facts."

I argued in my previous post that NPR and PBS are not much better. I neglected to add that in a certain respect, such public media outlets are actually /worse/ than commercial, overtly corporate media. Why? Because their veneer of being public, non-commercial, etc., gives them more credibility in the eyes of many people. This makes such public media entities more effective at promoting and defending the interests and agenda of the power structure, at least among significant segments of the population.

Mar. 19 2013 02:16 PM
Dick Hughes from New York City

Folks -

Leonard Lopate is on the right trail when he asks Brook Gladstone, today, about "Will the media ever learn from their mistakes & change?".

Gladstone's response, several times, talks about the media being "vast & diverse" and LL generalizations about it/them flawed.

But the fact of the matter is that, generally, the most influential media does get WAY too cozy with the powers that be & that may never change.

Yes, there were many media outlets that correctly questioned the war[s] early on, but they were, mostly, small & much less invested in the status quo.

I spent eight years in VN during the war & one only has to read Michael Herr's "High on War" chapter in his Dispatches book to see how this happens.

Indeed, had I and three other friends not started Dispatch News in the late sixties, Sy Hersh may NEVER have found an outlet for the My Lai story.

Despite his experience [AP] & contacts & year's research on My Lai, all major outlets turned him down, many saying it would "undercut the war effort".

So, given the enormous loss of life & limb ever since & major media's belated mea culpas, I despair upon hearing Gladstone's "balanced" assessments.

Correspondents fell all over each other to join the Pentagon's "embedded press" plan, decades after the VN debacle. Even taking faux "basic training".

No, Leonard is on the right track & Gladstone's deflecting him a disservice to their WNYC audiences AND to future enlistees we send abroad to fight our wars.

I would rather have a raving hawk presenting an apology for ventures like Iraq than a "balanced" commentator sweeping repeated errors under the rug.

An apt question might be, "Can someone like Gladstone be an objective observer without cozying up to compromised media giants to 'get the story'?" - Dick Hughes

Mar. 19 2013 01:29 PM
Noach (Independent, Traditionalist) from Brooklyn

@ Jim, 12:24:
"Ok, I'll try again here... Has the press learned anything about speaking truth to power?"

The mainstream press /exists/ to serve the very interests of the ruling corporate-military elite.

This is true not only of the overtly commercial, corporate media but also for NPR, PBS and WNYC. One need only look a little beneath the veneer to see the influence of the considerable corporate funding such public media outlets receive.

Just compare the number of establishment figures and apologists who appear on WNYC with the number of truly independent, dissident voices.

When was the last time you heard an economist to the left of Paul Krugman, for example?

Just a few of the many people who either never appear on WNYC or do so only rarely, yet are /at least/ as worthy of being given air time than many, if not most, of the people who appear /often/:

Glenn Greenwald, Robert Scheer, Doug Henwood, Richard Wolff, Slavoj Zizek, John Derbyshire.

Neither Rocky Anderson nor Virgil Goode, both third-party presidential candidates in the 2012 election who were on the ballots in many states, have appeared on either Brian Lehrer or Leonard Lopate (nor any other show on WNYC, as far as I can tell).

The same holds true for countless stories in the news and other topics.

Remember how long it took WNYC to give any coverage beyond news headline mentions to Occupy Wall Street?

Mar. 19 2013 01:26 PM
resident alien from Williamsburg

I'm as appalled now, as I was then, with Steven Hadley insistingly repeating the untruth that everybody believed that Iraq had nuclear WMDs.
And your interviewer letting him get away with it (again)!

Back then, everybody(!) reading any European news media (BBC, Der Spiegel,...) or listening to Hans Blix, the one person who could and should have known, knew that there was not a single shred of evidence to support the "theory" of the Bush administration!
Everyone supporting the WMD theory was/is either a crook & liar or incompetent or all of the above.

It was sad and eyeopening how the US news media ate it all up, including NPR (with the notable & noble exception of Terry Gross).

Thankfully, I never have & never will rely on only (1) news source from only 1 country & neither should anybody!

I usually don't believe in conspiracy theories i.e. when there are simpler explanations like human stupidity,...but i refuse to believe that EVERYBODY in the Bush administration (besides himself, maybe) was as ignorant, blue eyed and stupid to be fooled by faulty (rather fabricated) intelligence.

If there are congressional hearings about the attack on the embassy in Libya, shouldn't there be a ton of hearings on the background for the attack on Iraq?

But with all the media having so much egg on their faces for drinking the cool aid and democrats being as complicit as republicans, I'm not holding my breath that anyone will seriously be looking for a smoking gun!

a deeply disillusioned resident alien since 1991.

Mar. 19 2013 01:24 PM

Extraordinarily disappointing. Who knew that journalists can only follow the lead of Congress?

Mar. 19 2013 12:55 PM
Jeanne FF from New York City

Brook Gladstone's self-serving excuses why the press is really not to blame (because Congress didn't back them up! really?) is another reminder of why I gave up contributing to NPR. And ain't it interesting that in all of the mea culpa framed discussion of the media there's not one mention of NPR's embracing of the war. I still remember Susan Stanberg gleefully describing how the "smart" bombs were falling on Baghdad. As you all tell it, NPR is just an observer of all this instead of the truth which was that it swallowed the cool-aid and celebrated America's invasion. You'd think 10 years might be enough distance for you all to fess up to your part in all this.

Mar. 19 2013 12:54 PM
Robert Davey from Bridgeport, Conn.

I think it's a bit lame of Brooke Gladstone to say that the press couldn't really question the Bush rationale for going to war with Iraq because Congress wasn't questioning it. The media can and do initiate investigative reporting into claims made by government officials or leaders in finance and industry. In this case the media for the most part chose not to examine the rationale for war or the presumption that somehow the Iraq war was part of the U.S. response to the 9/11 attacks. That was a failure of nerve by the media.

Mar. 19 2013 12:47 PM
Robert from NYC

As is the case more and more frequently lately Brooke is full of crap, to put it nicely. She spins this very well as a "good?" journalist. She took no real stand and exempted herself for the debate. The media were for the most part in on promoting the Iraq war period. Have her listen to herself say, I'm sure Paul Krugman is 100% right and 100% wrong! Explain the sense of that sentence. It makes the irritating whininess of her voice sound even worse!

Mar. 19 2013 12:46 PM

I really enjoy Gladstone's objectivity and insight.
The issue here should be Who owns the media.
We all know the network news is far from objective, but it's nice to remind listeners of WHO owns the news and just how profitable the news division is for the networks. Wars especially are known to draw a great audience.

Mar. 19 2013 12:45 PM
Leo from queens

I understand that it is the responsibility of the individual to do his research and not take what he hears through one media outlet as the truth. But it's difficult for most of us to assess if we are being lied to or if a media outlet is misleading us if we have very little time and most of the outlets are not credible and they literally copy what one says and rebroadcast it on their outlet word for word without doing any real journalism. But the key problem is that most media outlets are owned by a few wealthy individuals who have a narrative that they want to present regardless of the facts.
As in the case of the 'debt and budget crisis', there are basic simple steps that can be taken now to invest in our economy while preventing a future debt crisis. But many 'journalists' are too damn lazy to do their jobs or are afraid of their big bosses.

Mar. 19 2013 12:45 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm a little surprised to hear so much of this put in terms of the media's choices & media culture. I thought I remembered a lot more of it coming out of the military's efforts to control the media. But I may be confusing some of the events of the Iraq war w/those of the (1st) Persian Gulf war.

Mar. 19 2013 12:44 PM

I'm hearing a bunch of lame-ass excuses!!


Mar. 19 2013 12:42 PM
antonio from baySide

Question: Does Ms. Gladstone think the media was responsible for instilling the approval the US congress and Bush administration would eventually need from the American people to go to war?

To me all the networks were happy to connect the fake dots from 911 to the Iraq war.

In the end it was a big lie right?

Mar. 19 2013 12:39 PM
Maryl from Manhattan

No one has addressed Why. What was the Bush admin thinking? Hoping to accomplish?

Mar. 19 2013 12:33 PM
dan from park slope

Scott Ritter, a former UN Weapons Inspector claimed there were no weapons, and that the war could not be "won." He was a Republican, and even worked for Fox News. You hear almost nothing about him or his predictions in the media. See

Mar. 19 2013 12:25 PM

Ok, I'll try again here... Has the press learned anything about speaking truth to power?

Mar. 19 2013 12:24 PM

10 years later, I'm still trying to figure out how Judith Miller got the NYT's front page to sell this war. Why was she so eager to get these stories, which we now know are fabrications, out to the world through such a prestigious publication? How did this happen and can it happen again?

Mar. 19 2013 12:17 PM
Jim B

Many of us remember the photographs of Tahrir Square that showed how the military had blocked off all street access so that the "spontaneous" toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue could take place.

Mar. 19 2013 12:10 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.