Media Ignorance: The Electrifying Conclusion

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 11 2014 11:24 AM

Media Ignorance: The Electrifying Conclusion

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What did he actually say?

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

I don't want to think about how few people care, but earlier in the week this blog joined the spirited debate over whether "liberal media ignorance" was a mounting problem. The first piece of evidence for this, cited by the Federalist's Mollie Hemingway, was the Huffington Post's political economy reporter Zach Carter being unable to answer some pop quiz questions about Iraq in an interview with Hugh Hewitt. And since then, a few people have pointed to this exchange between Carter and Hewitt—one of many instances of the host attempting to prove the ignorance of his guest.

ZC: Their case for the war, right, was I mean, that Saddam Hussein had been cooperating or collaborating with al-Qaeda…
HH: No, no, no.
ZC: That he had access to chemical weapons, that he had…
HH: No, no, no,
ZC: …weapons of mass destruction…
HH: No.
ZC: …and that he was looking to build a nuclear weapon.
HH: Actually, no.
ZC: I mean, Dick Cheney said all of those things.
HH: They never said al-Qaeda.
ZC: And none of those turned out to be true.
HH: Zach, he never said that about al-Qaeda. He said he was cooperating with terrorists, Abu Nidal among others, as well as perhaps Zarqawi, though we’re not sure about Zarqawi.

Carter was right. Dick Cheney had said this, in September 2002, during the build-up to war. From Meet the Press:

I’m not here today to make a specific allegation that Iraq was somehow responsible for 9/11. I can’t say that. On the other hand, since we did that interview, new information has come to light. And we spent time looking at that relationship between Iraq, on the one hand, and the al-Qaeda organization on the other. And there has been reporting that suggests that there have been a number of contacts over the years.

And today, Dick Cheney co-authors a new op-ed (with his daughter, Liz) laying the wood to the Obama administration.

It is undisputed, and has been confirmed repeatedly in Iraqi government documents captured after the invasion, that Saddam had deep, longstanding, far-reaching relationships with terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

That's all this week on the subject of ignorance. It's a problem; mendacity, arguably, is worse.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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