Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Tides and Times, Part II

American Future's Marc Schulman is back above ground after his second archaeological expedition into the morgue of the New York Times, to track the Gray Lady's editorial coverage of Iraq over a decade and a half. The second installment covers the period from G.W. Bush's election to the start of the war that overthrew Saddam.

It's well worth a read. Even Marc is surprised by what he found:

If the New York Times deserves to be vilified, it’s for its editorial stance and reporting after — not before — the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Memory can play tricks, and I’m forced to admit to this surprising conclusion, which follows from my review of every Iraq-related editorial published between Bush’s inauguration and the invasion’s start.

That review reveals no personal or institutional animus towards President Bush; in fact, on a number of occasions, the editors praised his efforts and policies. Only after war was staring them in the face did the editors hurl invectives in Bush’s direction. The Times was convinced that Iraq was a serious, though not imminent, threat and was willing to countenance the use of force. It was biased, but the bias was in favor of multilateralism, not against a Republican president. Furthermore, the Times didn’t reserve its criticisms for Bush. France was a frequent target for the editors’ verbal assaults; there’s not a single instance of praise for the French.

This appraisal does not mean that I’ve changed my mind and come around to the Times’ way of thinking. As before, I continue to believe that Bush’s decision to attack Saddam’s Iraq without Security Council approval was correct. My major criticism of the Times’ posture is that, despite condemning France’s intransigence, the editors implicitly concluded that having the U.S. bow to the French was preferable to acting without the approval of the Security Council. The Times was wrong to place multilateralism above the removal of a threat that it clearly and consistently recognized.