True? False? If it's negative for the President, that's good enough for the AP

One of the big problems with the American "mainstream" media apparatus is the completely uncritical way in which they accept everything that fits their template, printing anything they agree with, and suppressing or ignoring or criticizing things that they don't. We've got another fine example today in an AP story about some congressmen "call[ing] on President Bush to announce by year's end a plan for withdrawal from Iraq." The story is focused on NC Republican Walter Jones, a pre-war supporter of going in to Iraq, which does make it a legitimate news story. But, because he's now disagreeing with the President, what he's got to say is accepted as gospel truth. I think it's safe to say that the AP didn't do a lot of respectful quoting of Walter Jones when he was supporting the President in the run-up to the war.

Jones said the reason for going to war — Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction — has been proven false.

"If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn't have supported the resolution," said Jones, who had coined the term "freedom fries" as a show of support for the war in Iraq.

Representative Jones is apparently unaware of what he was voting on, and the AP is either unaware or uninterested in pointing that out. There wasn't a "reason" for going to war, there were many, and the fact that everyone believed that Saddam Hussein had WMD was only one of them. To quote from the Congressional Resolution authorizing force in Iraq:

  • in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in `material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations'
  • Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material an unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things...supporting and harboring terrorist organizations
  • Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait
  • the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people
  • the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council
  • members of al-Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq
  • Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens
  • the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations
  • it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region

None of that has been "proven false." We have not found the stockpiles that the administration, and every intelligence agency in the world, expected to be found, but not one of the reasons I've listed is false. The AP doesn't care - a Republican congressman is criticizing the administration, and that's good news for the media.

They also managed to get another Cindy Sheehan paean into the same piece, down towards the end.

[Jones has] also met with family members of troops killed in Iraq, including with Cindy Sheehan...He said the meeting about six weeks ago, which included other families who had lost loved ones, was emotional, and that Sheehan didn't say anything about going to Texas.

"You know, that's her right. I think anybody that's lost a loved one, who feels that we should be there long or not be there long, they should have that right to express it," Jones said.

If they're going to publish a comment like that, doesn't it behoove them to find someone who has expressed the feeling that she shouldn't have that right? There's an implied criticism there, the implication that someone less enlightened than Representative Jones, someone who would, therefore, be on the President's side, wants to suppress any opposition. Since no one's actually arguing that position, however, he, and by extension, the Associated Press, are impugning the President by implication.