Accuracy in Media

In the second week of September, a Gallup poll was taken to determine how much confidence the public has in the reporting of the news media compared to their confidence in how the three branches of the government are performing their jobs. The news media came in last with 54 percent of those polled saying they had “a great deal” or a “fair amount” of confidence that the media are reporting the news fully, accurately and fairly. Thirty-five percent said they had little confidence in the reporting and eleven percent said they had none at all.

The government got more respect than the news media. Sixty percent of those polled had a lot or a fair amount of confidence in the executive branch. Twenty-six percent had little and 14% had none at all. The judiciary and Congress were trusted more?63% for Congress and 67% for the judiciary, with only five percent saying they didn’t trust them at all.

Ironically, the public’s perception of the trustworthiness of government officials is largely shaped by what the news media report. Forty-five percent of those polled said the media are too liberal. The liberals began giving President Bush and his top advisers a hard time when combat was declared ended in Iraq. Most of their criticism has been focused on the failure to find the weapons of mass destruction that played a significant role in the decision to invade Iraq. The candidates who are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination have provided the media with lots of negative grist, claiming Bush lied about Iraq having WMD.

They should report that the administration was not alone in claiming that preventing Saddam from acquiring those weapons was one of the reasons why it was necessary to invade Iraq and topple Saddam. We found on the Internet an impressive array of statements to that effect that were made by individuals who are now accusing Bush of deceiving the public. Here are a few that don’t get the attention they deserve.

Bill Clinton said in February 1998, “One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.” In the same month Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that “the use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.” In 1999, she said, “Hussein has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction….”

In September last year, Michigan Senator Carl Levin said of Saddam, “He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.” At the same time Al Gore said, “Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.” Senator John Kerry, who is running for president, said he would support the use of force, “if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”

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