Give credit to the “Bush lied” crowd for this much: they didn’t just toss off the allegation in passing. They spent a lot of time talking about it. A lot.
Bush’s supposed “lie” about Saddam’s attempts to purchase yellow cake uranium—a “lie” which British intelligence maintains is actually not a lie—dominated the news late last week. The New York Times and Washington Post covered every twist and turn in the unfolding soap opera, while TV news outlets did their part to stoke the flames.
Not surprisingly, one of the worst offenders was CBS News, which announced on last Thursday’s evening newscast, “President Bush’s false claim about Iraqi weapons; he made it despite a CIA warning the intelligence was bad.” Too bad for CBS it is still not known that what Bush said in his State of the Union address was, in fact, a “false claim.” The truth didn’t stop CBS, though in fairness, it didn’t stop many other news outlets.
But if the facts aren’t all in—remember, the British say they have evidence independent of the forged documents that show Saddam actually tried to acquire uranium—how is that the headline “Bush lied” cascaded across the media landscape? It’s not even a headline, really. It’s a bumpersticker. Yet the media got sucked into partisan politics. To be fair, most of it probably is not the result of liberal media bias. When news is a business—and melodrama sells—“headlines” aim to pack a punch. Saying the leader of the free world “lied” does just that.
As for all the other players fanning the flames of untruth, their motives are far less benign. Obvious partisanship aside—liberals hate Bush in a way they haven’t hated anyone since Reagan—there are ulterior motives at work.
The cake-and-eat-it-too crowd is led by Presidential wannabe John Kerry, junior Senator to Ted Kennedy, who is trying to keep up hawkish appearances while placating the liberals who actually believe Bush is a greater threat to national security than Saddam Hussein was. Since he voted to authorize the war in Iraq—with an eye toward November 2004—Kerry needed a sleight of hand to woo peaceniks. So the man who founded Vietnam Veterans Against the War beefed up his antiwar reputation by claiming that Bush, in essence, duped him and others into supporting the war.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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