McClellan and His Media Collaborators

June 16th, 2008 by Andy in Deconstructing The Media

Good essay by Jeff Cohen, one of the original members of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) and producer of Phil Donahue’s program on MSNBC which was cancelled only weeks before the invasion of Iraq for having had the temerity to question the premise of that war. Ironic that Phil D. lost his show for having tried to point out what now former Bush PR flack Scott McClellan openly and publicly admits in his book to having been the case all along.

We can finally see those who abandoned reporting for cheerleading and flag-waving and cheap ratings having to squirm over their role in sending other parents’ kids into Iraq. I say “other parents’ kids” because I never met any bigwig among those I worked with in TV news who had kids in the armed forces.

Given how TV networks danced to the White House tune sung by the Roves and Fleischers and McClellans in the first years of W’s reign, it’s fitting that it took the words of a longtime Bush insider to force their self-examination over Iraq. Top media figures had shunned years of well-documented criticism of their Iraq failure as religiously as they shunned war critics in 2003.


In February 2003, there was huge mainstream media skepticism about Powell’s UN speech … overseas. But US TV networks banished antiwar perspectives in the crucial two weeks surrounding that error-filled speech. FAIR studied all on-camera sources on the nightly ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS newscasts: Less than 1 percent - 3 out of 393 sources - were antiwar. Only 6 percent were skeptical sources. This at a time when 60 percent of Americans in polls wanted more time for diplomacy and inspections.

I worked 10-hour days inside MSNBC’s newsroom during this period as senior producer of Phil Donahue’s primetime show (canceled three weeks before the war while the network’s most-watched program). Trust me: too much skepticism over war claims was a punishable offense. I and all other Donahue producers were repeatedly ordered by top management to book panels that favored the pro-invasion side. I watched a fellow producer get chewed out for booking a 50-50 show.

Read The Full Report

This does invite the question as to where was McClellan all the while this was going down and when he had a chance to actually either publicly try to stop it, or at least not allow it to happen with his complicity. One may wonder whether McClellan clearly sees history’s writing on the wall and this is his attempt at trying to absolve himself from his complicity in this whole criminal affair, hoping to try to avoid having his name listed on the international war crimes tribunal indictments when they eventually get issued. However, some of his comments and his recent efforts, particularly the flack he is taking from the reich-wing of American politics does shed some light on his sincerity in regards to his speaking out. To his credit, he stood up pretty well to the over-the-top and irrational (and factually vacant) assault from TV’s bully boy Bill O’Reilly, which you can watch here in it’s entirety courtesy of The Brad Blog.

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