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So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits--and the President--Failed on Iraq Paperback – March 4, 2008

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this pertinent but ego-driven compilation of writings on the Iraq War, Mitchell, editor of media industry magazine Editor & Publisher, argues that, from the outset, the press did not adequately question the reasoning behind American operations in Iraq. Quoting his publication, Mitchell condemns the press's tendency "to accept the military's word first and ask questions later," citing specific examples like the media's blind approval of Secretary of State Powell's Feb., 2003, speech favoring a call to arms. Mitchell describes incidents like this as a symptom of the media's "failure of will" to probe matters of national security. His thesis-that a weak press deserves blame for the Iraq quagmire-is hard to argue with, but it's not exactly news. Still, he provides a valuable roundup of media reactions from across the spectrum, and his grievances are substantial. Ultimately, though, Mitchell is difficult to distinguish from the one-sided, single-minded figures he rails against; readers will learn a great deal about the media politics behind the Iraq war, but will have to decide for themselves how trustworthy a pundit Mitchell really is.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“Worthy of shelving alongside the best of the Iraq books.”--Kirkus

 

“Greg Mitchell has given us a razor-sharp critique of how the media and the government connived in one of the great blunders of American foreign policy. Every aspiring journalist, every veteran, every pundit—and every citizen who cares about the difference between illusion and reality, propaganda and the truth, and looked to the press to help keep them separate—should read this book. Twice.”—Bill Moyers



"With the tragic war in Iraq dragging on, and the drumbeat for new conflicts growing louder, this is more than a five-year history of the biggest foreign policy debacle of our times—it's a cautionary tale that is as relevant as this morning's headlines. Greg Mitchell makes it clear that Iraq is a case study in bad judgment, from the misguided moves of an administration blinded by its zealotry to a complacent media that too often acted as an extension of the White House press office.  Read it and weep; read it and get enraged; read it and make sure it doesn't happen again."—Arianna  Huffington


“The profound failure of the American press with regard to the Iraq War may very well be the most significant political story of this generation.  Greg Mitchell has established himself as one of our country's most perceptive media critics, and here he provides invaluable insight into how massive journalistic failures enabled the greatest strategic disaster in the nation's history.”—Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com columnist and author of  A Tragic Legacy and How Would a Patriot Act?
 
"Anyone who cares about the integrity of the American media should read this book. Greg Mitchell asks tough questions about the Iraq war that should have been asked long ago, in a poignant, patriotic, and thoughtful dissection of our war in Iraq. Mitchell names names and places blame on those who’ve blundered. Examining the most complex issue of our time, he connects the dots like no one else has."—Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and author of Chasing Ghosts
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Union Square Press (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402756577
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402756573
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,167,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Doble on March 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
Bill Moyers, one of the country's great journalists, praised this book for good reason -- it is a heartbreakingly convincing account of how the media failed to perform the role that Jefferson and Madison envisioned--to serve as critical interrogators and skeptics of the government instead of its enablers. Mitchell details how the media aided and abetted George Bush, Hillary Clinton and others in the Congress as they recklessly and unquestioningly blundered into the Iraq war. I hope that every journalist reads and learns from this well informed account and that every American reads it and starts demanding more from the news media created to keep us informed. This is one the most important books of the past few years.
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Format: Paperback
Greg Mitchell has done the public a great service in documenting the historic failure of the Fourth Estate to hold our elected officials accountable for using the media to peddle false information about the so-called threat posed by the Iraqi regime. Even worse, Mitchell's well-researched book shows how the press has continued to print and broadcast facts about Iraq emanating from the White House that has been dismissed as bogus.

History teachers should use"So Wrong for So Long" as a classroom textbook so students can learn the truth about how the media was complicit in helping the Bush administration sell the Iraq war to Congress and the public.
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Format: Paperback
Greg Mitchell's book is an excellent critique of the media and its handling of Iraq war, but it also serves as a reminder of everything that has happened in the last five turbulent years. By looking at the war in its entirety through the lens of media coverage, it not only compiles a history of the events of the war, but also a history of opinion and views about the war, and equally important factor in this controversial engagement. His unbiased and skeptical view of the events are an example of how journalists should have treated it from the beginning, and proof that while many major journalists and publications may have botched the coverage, at least one held true to his journalistic principles and remained outside the tidal wave of populr opinion and spin.
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Format: Paperback
How cool is this? Bruce Springsteen wants you to buy this book. Mitchell, the editor of Editor and Publisher who hobnobbed with rock 'n' roll glitterati during his stint at the legenday magazine Crawdaddy! Springsteen says in a brief (i.e., it's a lot more concise than "Jungleland") preface that Mitchell's book "is to remind us that we all need to be more questioning, skeptical and savvy than ever in assessing information that's presented to us. And we ought to teach our children to do the same."

"So Wrong for So Long" is certainly a big start in the right direction. Using a variety of writing techniques and approaches that stretch over five agonizing years of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the collected works touch on the wide scope of journalistic malpractice that stretches to the present, including the early ignoring of Abu Ghraib, civilian casualties, Haditha, and military suicides, among others. One thing stood out as a recurring and awful theme: That it didn't have to be this way, that America's journalists had plenty of information that was readily available in late 2002 and early 2003 to show that the case for the war was partly overhyped but mostly bogus.

This story has been told a number of times since 2004, when it became more acceptable, even "cool" for a time, to criticize not only the war but the journalists who covered -- but mostly failed to cover -- the bandwagon rush to launch it. But "So Wrong for So Long" takes a different approach, and it's a more powerful one than most of the other Monday morning quarterbacking that's out there. The book collects some 75 of Mitchell's columns that were written in real time, with some additional commentary to provide the context.
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As we endure the 10 year anniversary of our catastrophic debacle in Iraq, it's worth re-visiting -- in all its horror -- the utter failure of the press to question the rush to war. I watched in terror and despair as the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rove/Wolfowitz "Vulcans" manipulated the data, intimidated the press and suffocated the opposition. The good news and the bad news are the same news -- this whole thing is just as infuriating as it was ten years ago. What's amazing about this is that it's not amazing -- the Vulcans were very workmanlike in achieving their ends, to commit us to war (without paying for a single dollar of it). The utter fecklessness of the prosecution of the war and the gormless ineptitude of Junior Bush are still kind of astonishing. Buy Mitchell's book. Read it. Wave it at the television when William Kristol bleats about the need to go to war with Iran.
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Format: Paperback
This book gives an excellent account of events leading up to Bush's War, and puts the nightly/daily news in perspective. I now look at 24/7 news channels differently, realizing that they need "stories" to fill their air time, even if those stories are only rumors, suggestions, and innuendo. Viewer beware!!
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For Boomers, the American news media were a bastion of professionalism renowned for an ability to present facts and expose deceit to voters. In the second Bush presidency, media not only failed, but became complicit in falsehood to a degree thought impossible, with a speed that seemed almost instantaneous at the time. Contrarian guardians we relied on were winkingly on the take. This book details flaws of a rogue presidency and testimony of media threatened and subverted - a media many of us will never trust again. A crucial history of our time.
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