One presumes the press will get the truth out. But the Pentagon now has the power to broadcast to millions of people instantly, and the embeds have turned into virtual hostages whose safety depends in part on their acquiescence. The spectrum of available truth must be severely limited when the embeds cannot always report what they know, and their independent colleagues are rarely given anything to report.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration repeats its empty claims like a mantra: War is justified because Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. We have no ambition but to liberate Iraq. We will return the oil fields to the people. We will be welcomed by cheering crowds. Civilian casualties will be minimal. Saddam is already dead.
With so much hype in the air, any show of skepticism is welcome. Last week on CNN, Aaron Brown seemed incredulous when Bush professed to care about Medicare and education. Christiane Amanpour scoffed at the claim that the U.S. has more allies than we did for the Gulf War. On Sunday, Blitzer pressed Rumsfeld on how he can be so sanguine about his ability to limit civilian casualties.
Now that the hawks are asking taxpayers for up to $80 billion, journalists should treat them like investors who are issuing "forward looking" statements about an IPO that may or may not come to pass. The next time Rumsfeld says he doubts "there's ever been the degree of free press coverage" as there is now, will someone please ask for his definition of a free press?