Newsweek's Thomas: Over Summer, Mainstream Journalists 'Lurched' Against Iraq War

On this weekend's Inside Washington, Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who maintained that “most...mainstream journalists believed -- close call -- that we had to go to this [Iraq] war,” have “now changed their view. You can feel it shift over the summer." Thomas observed: “You can feel this summer that group, of which I am a card-carrying member, lurch in a different direction in kind of with a hand-wringing sadness, but you can feel it, they're starting to head for the exits, looking for some kind of face-covering diplomatic solution or something, but boy you can feel it happening." Panelist Nina Totenberg of NPR protested that she was against the war in Iraq from the start, charging: “I think most sane people thought really this would make matters worse and it's made matters worse." (Transcript follows)

A transcript of the relevant portion of the August 25 Inside Washington, a half-hour weekly panel show produced by Washington, DC’s ABC affiliate which carries it on Sunday morning after This Week. Before that, it airs at 7pm Saturday on the affiliate’s all-news cable channel, NewsChannel 8, and Friday night at 8:30pm on DC’s PBS station, WETA-TV channel 26:
Evan Thomas, Newsweek: “I was a 'Chicken Hawk' like a lot of people, some of the people on this panel when we got into it. And, you know, most of the mainstream types, mainstream journalists believed -- close call -- that we had to got to this war -- they've now changed their view. You can feel it shift over the summer.”

Nina Totenberg, NPR: “I wasn't there. I wasn't there. And neither was Colby [King].”

Thomas: “But a lot of mainstream journalists at the New York Times, the New Yorker, you know, traditionally liberal places, endorsed this war.”

Gordon Peterson, host: “The Washington Post.”

Thomas: “The Washington Post. You can feel this summer that group, of which I am a card-carrying member, lurch in a different direction in kind of with a hand-wringing sadness, but you can feel it, they're starting to head for the exits, looking for some kind of face-covering diplomatic solution or something, but boy you can feel it happening.”

Peterson: “You were already at the exits, Nina?”

Totenberg: “I was already at the exits at the beginning because it didn't make any sense to me. With all deference, I would suggest that a lot of people sort of hesitatingly went along because they were intimidated as a result of 9/11. And I, I and I think most sane people thought really this would make matters worse and it's made matters worse.”
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center