Chuck Todd on Trump: We Don't Want to Look 'Horrendous' (Soft) Like with Bush on Iraq

The dominant question inside the liberal/Democrat media right now isn't "Are we too rough on Trump?" They ask themselves what their base asks: "Have we been tough enough on Trump?" A Politico story by media reporter Michael Calderone promoted Meet the Press host Chuck Todd celebrating his own show as a Sunday "escape" from a week of "madness" in politics. 

Todd likened this fractious moment to the Iraq war, the run-up to which is now considered a black mark on journalism because major newspapers and hosts helped amplify the Bush administration’s false claims about weapons of mass destruction. “We’re going to be judged in five years how we covered this administration … Day to day, plenty of journalists felt good, perhaps, in how they were covering the Iraq war. Five years later it looked horrendous, the decisions that were made.

“I’m not worried about the day-to-day judgments and the day-to-day complaints and the hour-to-hour ranting and ‘Why aren’t you covering this story as much as you’re covering this story?’ ” he said. “Ask me in five years how we did….on this era of American politics. That’s when I’ll know if we’ve done it right or wrong.”

A look back at how the networks and major newspapers covered the "rush to war" in early 2003 doesn't resemble the notion that they enabled the war or "helped amplify the Bush administration's false claims." Leftists hated the coverage in real time, because Bush went to war despite hostile liberal media outlets, much as leftists today insist the media "helped amplify" Trump into the White House. No presidential nominee in the history of television has faced a more hostile media, but it's never enough. The content doesn't matter, only the result. 

Back in 2003, we set out to challenge ABC's Terry Moran, who claimed after a March 6, 2003 press conference that President Bush left his colleagues in the press corps “looking like zombies.” That's true only if it seemed like they wanted to eat his brains. As we documented at the time: 

In reality, reporters had challenged the President with tough questions. CNN’s John King cited Ted Kennedy’s belief that “your fixation with Saddam Hussein is making the world a more dangerous place.” Ed Chen of the Los Angeles Times demanded to know that if Bush “trusted the people” with their tax cuts, why not trust them enough to give them an estimate of the war costs? Bob Deans of Cox Newspapers even suggested that the Vietnam War was unjustified since Vietnam hasn’t directly threatened American security in 30 years.

For his part, Moran lectured the President that he had “generated opposition from the governments of France, Russia, China, Germany, Turkey, the Arab League, and many other countries, opened a rift at NATO and at the UN; and drawn millions of ordinary citizens around the world into the streets and anti-war protests. May I ask what went wrong that so many governments and peoples around the world now not only disagree with you very strongly, but see the U.S. under your leadership as an arrogant power?” Afterward, Peter Jennings praised it as “a fairly straightforward question.” .

On the evening news shows preceding the prime-time event, Jennings asked Secretary of State Colin Powell: “So many people don’t understand why you shouldn’t let the inspections continue if they are accomplishing anything....Most people think they’re doing a reasonably effective job at the moment.” Over on NBC, Ron Allen was reporting from Iraq that “Tonight, word of America’s new deadline and threat of war fazed no one at this Baghdad café.” Allen then cited an Iraqi man: “America is a terrorist country, he says.”

Earth to Chuck Todd: Is Ron Allen a Bush zombie on NBC with this kind of line? Worse yet, these reporters were puffing up the enemy, Saddam Hussein: 

That morning, as the White House press corps prepared to pepper Bush with questions about his “arrogant...obsession” with Saddam Hussein, ABC’s Good Morning America was marveling at Saddam’s popularity. Diane Sawyer revealed: “I read this morning that he’s also said the love that the Iraqis have for him is so much greater than anything Americans feel for their President because he’s been loved for 35 years, he says, the whole 35 years.” From Baghdad, reporter Dan Harris seconded Sawyer: “He is one to point out quite frequently that he is part of a historical trend in this country of restoring Iraq to its greatness, its historical greatness. He points out frequently that he was elected with a hundred percent margin recently.”

If the press were to be accused of acting like “zombies,” it was more plausible to argue they were zombies for Saddam than they were zombies for President Bush.

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Tim Graham's picture