Downing Street Afterschlock: CNN Makes Good on 'Storytelling' Vow

Headline News channels regime-change facts into fiction

Help! Isn't it bad enough that the U.S. press has bungled the story of the Downing Street Memo? I mean, the estimable Walter Pincus of the Washington Post is just now digging into the details of the juicy story that Michael Smith of the Times of London broke on the weekend of May 1.

But this evening, here's CNN Headline News saying that the Downing Street Memo "suggests that the Bush administration saw the Iraq war as inevitable …"

Jesus wept.

Yeah, like Hitler saying that his invasion of Poland was inevitable.

Whoever did the rip-and-read at CNN stopped reading the memo at least a sentence too soon. Here's the relevant passage from the Downing Street Memo:

    " … Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. … "

It was the "military action" that "was now seen as inevitable." Who did this "seeing"? Not the Bush administration. Memo to CNN reader of Downing Street Memo: The sentence following is "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD."

Get it? The point of the Downing Street Memo is not that the Bush regime "saw the war as inevitable." The point is that it wanted the war and had decided that military action was going to happen—and then figure out the justification.

Last January, after Jon Klein took over CNN's U.S. operations, he vowed that CNN would do a lot more "storytelling."

That seems to be working out.


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