Peter Wilby argues that “the British press... failed badly to expose the flimsiness of the case for going to war in Iraq”.
Norm responds: “The issue of whether or not to go to war in Iraq was debated as fiercely and extensively as just about anything in recent memory, and the voices against were many and to be read and heard at every turn.”
But they could both be right.
What if the anti-war voices, dominant in the pages of the Mirror, Guardian and Independent, and far from invisible in most of the other papers (not to mention the BBC and Channel 4), were simply incompetent? What if, rather than dissecting Hans Blix’s reports in relation to the provisions of resolution 1441, they devoted too much of their time to shouting about poodles, cowboys, oil, Islamophobia and whose name the whole business was in?
What if, like so very much of the media (left and right, TV and print, ‘quality’ and ‘popular’), the anti-war movement had focused excessively on personalities rather than policy detail?
If so, then despite having been heard at every turn, they still could have failed badly.
If you try to boil an issue down to nasty warmongers and innocent victims, and you don’t put Saddam Hussein in the former category, you’re likely to have trouble getting traction.
Just an idle hypothesis...