WASHINGTON – Editors at The Washington Post acknowledge they underplayed stories questioning President Bush's claims of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein (search) in the months leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
In the story published Thursday in the newspaper, Post media critic Howard Kurtz writes that editors resisted stories that questioned whether Bush had evidence that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction.
"We did our job but we didn't do enough, and I blame myself mightily for not pushing harder," assistant managing editor Bob Woodward says in the story. "We should have warned readers we had information that the basis for this was shakier" than many believed.
Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks told Kurtz, "There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?"
Executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. said, "We were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn't be a good idea to go to war and were questioning the administration's rationale."
In his more-than-3,000-word story, Kurtz writes, "The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times."
A number of critics have faulted the American news media for not being more skeptical about the Bush administration's claims before the beginning of the war in March 2003. In the year and a half since Saddam was toppled, U.S. troops have yet to discover any weapons of mass destruction.
In a study published in March by the Center for International and Security Studies (search) at the University of Maryland, researchers wrote: "If the White House acted like a WMD story was important, ... so too did the media. If the White House ignored a story (or an angle on a story), the media were likely to as well."
In May, The New York Times criticized its own reporting on Iraq, saying it found "a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been" and acknowledging it sometimes "fell for misinformation" from exile Iraqi sources.