In a June 18 NewsBusters post, Matthew Balan claimed that after CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour "repeated the platitude that mainstream media reports 'without fear nor favor... giving voice to those who don't have a voice, and just simply trying to tell the truth,' " she "revealed her own bias" by stating that "if we don't, we can get really into a big disaster. And I, as you know, feel strongly that that's what happened in the lead-up to the Iraq war." Balan added: "Amanpour is repeating the revisionist claim that the media did not pursue the Bush administration and other proponents of action against Iraq aggressively in the run-up to the war, a claim that the MRC refuted in May."
Well, not exactly. Balan is referring to a May 15 "Media Reality Check" in which Rich Noyes claiming to disprove liberals' "amazing display of myth-building and revisionism concerning the establishment media’s performance before the war." But all Noyes does is offer a handful of anecdotal counterexamples of questions being raised, including one from the barely-watched "McLaughlin Group." Noyes asserted:
That’s complete nonsense, as anyone who has actually looked at the coverage would know. In the months leading up to the start of the war in March 2003, the much of the media — especially ABC — portrayed the Bush administration as aggressive, impulsive, pig-headed and even blood-thirsty, while routinely doubting the credibility of their public statements.
Noyes is so busy building up a straw man to anecdotally knock down a pair of comments made on CNN's "Reliable Sources" that he doesn't address more detailed analyses of the issue. While one of Noyes' anecdotes is a question from ABC's Terry Moran to President Bush during a March 6, 2003, press conference, Eric Boehlert went into much deeper detail on that press conference in his 2006 book "Lapdogs":
Laying out the reasons for war, Bush that night mentioned al-Qaida and the terrorist attacks of September 11 thirteen times in less than an hour, yet not a single journalist challenged the presumed connection Bush was making between al-Qaida and Iraq, despite the fact that intelligence sources had publicly questioned any such association. And during the Q&A session, nobody bothered to ask Bush about the elusive Osama bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind whom Bush had vowed to capture. Follow-up questions were nonexistent, which only encouraged Bush to give answers to questions he was not asked.
Before the cameras went live, White House handlers, in a highly unusual move, marched veteran reporters to their seats in the East Room, two-by-two, like school children being led onto the stage for the annual holiday pageant. The White House was taking no chances with the choreography. Looking back on the night, New York Times White House correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller defended the press corps' timid behavior: "I think we were very deferential because ... it's live, it's very intense, it's frightening to stand up there. Think about it, you' re standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country's about to go to war," she told students at Towson University in Maryland. "There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time."
In fact, a search of the MRC's archives finds no mention whatsoever of Boehlert's book, which is arguably the most detailed case for the contention that the media didn't do its job before the Iraq war. Rather than addressing substantive criticism on an issue it purportedly cares about (from a shield-the-Bush-administration viewpoint), Noyes would apparently rather cherry-pick from Sunday talk shows and hurl out-of-context anecdotes in response -- hardly anyone's definition of refutation.