The New York Times has a rather bizarre article today that at first glance is an attempt to be a meta-correction for some of it’s Iraq coverage. But that’s not what the article does.
The Times, like many in the media, made numerous mistakes in its coverage of Iraq. Perhaps the most (in)famous of all was the series of “Strategic Pause” stories. The stories, which ran only a few days after the start of the war, claimed that American forces were bogged down in Iraq and were forced to pause for a few weeks to regroup. “The war plan had failed” was a favorite quote of the day. Apparently the Pentagon missed the stories because just 2 weeks later, Iraqis were dancing in the streets and pulling down statues of Saddam as American tanks rolled thru Baghdad. The Times never did explain how it blew that story.
The fall of Baghdad lead to perhaps the second biggest gaff of the Iraq war reporting- that the Baghdad museum had been looted. The Times breathlessly reported that the museum had 170,000 items looted or destroyed. They also reported that the administration failed to put guards at the museum but had placed guards at the Oil Ministry’s office. None of those stories were true.
Most of the museum’s relics were in the basement and a few were removed by the curators. The last count I remember was that out of 170,000 items in the museum, only 37 were unaccounted for. Again, the Times never felt called upon to apologize for that one.
Curiously, the Times did not use this soul cleansing article to apologize for those mistakes. Instead, it apologized for not being more critical of the information that lead to the war. No mention was made of their calamitous coverage of the war itself.
And even then, they placed the blame elsewhere…
Over the last year this newspaper has shone the bright light of hindsight on decisions that led the United States into Iraq. We have examined the failings of American and allied intelligence, especially on the issue of Iraq’s weapons and possible Iraqi connections to international terrorists. We have studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves.
In doing so