the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

June 11, 2005

Media Silence on Downing Street Memo


The Downing Street memo may not be as big a deal as some on the left think it is (for one thing, it’s not a document produced by the Bush administration), but it’s still outrageous that the US media completely ignored the story for a month while it was a big story in the UK. On this weekend’s On the Media, USA Today reporter Mark Memmott tried to explain the delay (my transcript):

It’s ironic to some extent. I mean, last year the media was jumped on because of the Texas Air National Guard documents that CBS said it had. Bloggers were all over them about the authenticity of those. Now some in the blogosphere were all over the media for not writing about documents which almost all the media had not seen. Only the Sunday Times of London had actual copies that they said were from reliable sources. Others only had secondhand information, so that explains a lot of the reluctance, at least on the US media’s part, to really weigh in in this one, I think.

Please! It’s not ironic that the media was timid after the right’s successful use of “Rathergate” to damage CBS News and distract from the TANG issue. That was the intended result of the campaign by the administration, assisted by Powerline and other right-wing blogs.

The memo’s significance was also questionable because, according to Memmott, the word “fix” in the phrase “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” could mean in British English something less nefarious than its American meaning would suggest. He didn’t have an English accent, but he’s apparently more of an expert on the subject that the editors at the Times of London and other British media.

Memmott went on to explain that the story wasn’t that important anyway, because it was old news that Bush & Co. were determined to invade Iraq — that everyone knew it at the time. Perhaps that’s true, but in that case wasn’t it the media’s responsibility back in late 2002 and early 2003 to point out the inconsistency between what Bush was saying in speeches and what “everyone” knew?


  1. Good post.

    I’m always glad to see McPaper spinning fast and loose to explain why something is not important.

    I’ll add that what’s really interesting is the conjunction of the Downing Street Memo, reports (again from the London Times) that bombing had started well before the war, and “Chain of Command” which makes the point that the bogus Niger story was key to the Senate vote authorizing the war.

    alt hippo10:30 pm

  2. One interesting thing I learned about “McPaper” on On the Media a few weeks back was that it’s one of the papers most opposed to anonymous sources, and it might not be bad to have more papers move in that direction, at least with regard to messages the Powers That Be want to get out (like outing Valerie Plame), rather than those they want suppressed.

    Keith1:20 pm, June 12

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