As Keith Olbermann reminds us every weeknight, it’s been some 1,750 days and counting since George Bush crowed, “Mission accomplished!” Editor & Publisher editor Mitchell further rubs Bush’s nose in it, and commemorates other erroneous nabobs as well.
This book gathers some five years’ worth of Mitchell’s media-watchdog opinion pieces from that august journal, consistent in their opposition to the Iraq misadventure and prescient in their having assumed from the first that Bush would indeed invade: “…as early as October 7, 2002, Editor & Publisher…was opening one story with ‘As the United States prepares to invade Iraq…” Mitchell was one of the first to question New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s coziness with the administration and its claims through her of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Saddam Hussein’s bunkers. He was also quick to criticize MSNBC news host Chris Matthews’s assertion, on that very day of Bush’s mission-accomplished declaration, “He won the war. He was an effective commander. Everybody recognizes that, I believe, except a few critics.” Matthews, one hopes, is reminded of that statement daily, and one hopes that the New York Times reporters who assured readers that the troops were coming home in May 2003 are reminded of their wrong call as well. The problem is one of complacency and complicity. Mitchell quotes Washington Post correspondent and Colin Powell biographer Karen DeYoung as having observed, quite rightly, “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.” True, Mitchell suggests, but that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Visiting such points on the timeline as the Pat Tillman death-by-friendly-fire coverup, the Miller affair (and her subsequent buyout) and the suicides of several American soldiers in protest against corruption, Mitchell charts how disastrously wrongheaded the war has been from the start, and how numerous and various the wrongheaded have been.
A lucid chronology of error, worthy of shelving alongside the best of the Iraq books to date.