Fool Me Once, You Can’t Get Fooled Again

Who knew that the media would take so well to the lesson served up by our Educator-In-Chief:

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.” GWB, September 17, 2002.

It appears that some factions of the press do not intend to get fooled again. Take for instance, this headline and excerpt from the Los Angeles Times:

Scant evidence found of Iran-Iraq arms link
“Before invading Iraq, the administration warned repeatedly that Saddam Hussein was developing nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Those statements proved wrong. The administration’s charges about Iran sound uncomfortably familiar to some.”

Those to whom the charges sound uncomfortably familiar are people with measurable brainwave activity. It’s nice to see that some in the press are in that category. Given the degree to which much of the press swallowed administration lies in the ramp up to the Iraq war, it is encouraging to see some evidence of professional skepticism on the part of the Times. There was plenty of reason to be skeptical the first time around, but that didn’t stop most major news outlets from ignoring the danger signs and publishing the administration’s propaganda.

Having been burned, it seems that, at least in this case, they aren’t going to roll over again. As BushCo manuevers to justify yet another unwarranted attack, this time against Iran, the newly discovered journalistic gumption of the Times produces this observation:

“U. S. officials have declined to provide documantation of seized Iranian ordnance, despite repeated requests. The U. S. military often releases photographs of other weapons finds.”

By reporting that documentation was requested and denied, and contrasting that with previous known behavior, the authors have dutifully informed their readers with sufficient and appropriate data from which informed conclusions can be made. That’s how it’s supposed to work. And it should work that way regardless of who’s in office, whether or not they are popular, or what effect it might have on the reporters or their employers. If enough of the media provides this kind of critical review of government PR, we might just avoid another deadly and pointless war.

These are the times that define the media. Will they fulfill their obligation to the people they serve? Will they honor the journalistic principles that are the foundation of open and free democracies?

We’ll see.


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