Newspaper Mag Editor Urges Papers to Demand Withdrawal from Iraq

In a Monday posting, Greg Mitchell, the Editor of the leading newspaper industry magazine, Editor & Publisher, urged newspapers to editorialize about getting the U.S. out of Iraq. The up top summary below the "Tipping Point on Iraq" headline over his August 22 piece: "At this critical moment, it's time for newspapers -- many of which helped get us into this war -- to use their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands. Now, it's literally do-or-die time." FNC's Brit Hume, in his "Grapevine" segment on Tuesday, picked up on Mitchell's advocacy which Romenesko had highlighted.

This item appeared in Wednesday's MRC CyberAlert.

An excerpt from Mitchell's harangue:

As the dog days of August wind down, the editorial pages of American newspapers face a moment of truth on the Iraq war. Over the next few weeks, with vacationers heading home, the president's popularity sinking, hearings planned in Congress, and major protests set, the case for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq -- sooner rather than later, as Al Neuharth has repeatedly put it -- will finally become a center of public and political debate.

Or, as Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (who once favored the war) said on Sunday, "We should start figuring out how we get out of there. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."

It's time for newspapers, many of which helped get us into this war, to consider using their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands, or simply criticize the conduct of the war, or the lack of body armor for our troops. Not many months ago, in fact, some papers, including The New York Times, were calling for more U.S. troops for Iraq.

Now it's literally do-or-die time.

President Bush clearly recognizes this. This week, in a desperate attempt to counter the sensible idea of a phased withdrawal, he has lashed out at those who advocate something quite different -- an immediate pullout -- as if that is the only option.

As some of you no doubt know (and may be sick of reading), I have challenged major U.S. newspapers for more than two years to be first to clearly call for a phased withdrawal. Once a few do so, they will show that it is safe for others to stick their toes in the water.

The argument I've made is akin to Hagel's: While many claim that exiting will only make matters worse, the United States' presence is more of a long-term problem than a long-term solution, for both that country, and our own. Now, with Iraq moving toward a decentralized, pro-Iranian state, even some of my friends at conservative blogs and Web sites are shifting course, declaring that no American GIs should die for an Islamic nation....

Since I have taken a lot of grief since 2003, from Jonah Goldberg and others, for even mentioning "Iraq" and "Vietnam" in the same paragraph, I will note a further Hagel comment: "We're past that stage now because now we are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam. The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have.

"What I think the White House does not yet understand, and some of my colleagues, the dam has broke on this policy. The longer we stay there, the more similarities [to Vietnam] are going to come together."

The time for the press to act, if it ever does, is now. Not for the first time, the newspapers are lagging behind the public, as major polls show that most Americans favor starting a pullout now, and feel the war was a mistake from the start....

When he wrote the following this month, [Knight-Ridder's Joe] Galloway was addressing the White House and the Pentagon, but he could have aimed it just as easily at the media: "Don't tell me we are going to stay the course. We are on the wrong course, and it only leads deeper into the quicksand. Tell me how we are going to change course."...

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