On March 20th, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, based on President George W. Bush and his administration’s false claim that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), and that Iraq had ties to al-Qaeda, a group who had carried out the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Nine bloody years of war followed until the war officially ended on December 15th, 2011, under the direction of President Barack Obama. A total of 4,487 US soldiers, and an estimated 100,000 Iraqis died in the conflict.1
Most US media sources were irresponsible when it came to covering not just the rush to war with Iraq, but also the misguided and dangerous approach of the Bush administration to the world in the aftermath of the 9/11 atrocity.
The Iraq invasion led to a huge increase in US media coverage, and this coverage became very controversial because media outlets were accused of bias, censorship, and propaganda. Years of decreasing coverage of foreign events by US media had left Americans unprepared for the events of 9/11 and their aftermath. Half or more Americans believing that Iraq was involved in the attacks - possibly the most media-covered event in our history - is just an example of how the poor reporting and fact provision of the news impacted the nations thoughts and ideas on the events leading up to the war. 2
People did not know the basics about Iraq, the country that the United States was now preparing to invade. Major media in the US, such as Fox News and The New York Times, failed to question or even challenge the Bush administration’s claims regarding Iraq. The government’s failure to provide the American public with truthful background, along with journalists’ failure to expose the misrepresentation of the truth led the nation into a conflict they could have avoided if they had just looked for more proof of the “facts” they were being told.
Journalists, under pressure by the government to appear “patriotic”, simply repeated administration’s announcements without asking questions or analyzing the information. This led many American media outlets to distort facts, report numerous unsubstantiated stories or omit pertinent facts or portions of stories altogether. Without questioning or investigating what they were being told by the White House, media outlets essentially accepted the role of being an infomercial for the Bush administration and for their own corporate sponsors.
The most popular cable network in the United States for news on the war was Fox News, and other media outlets were influenced by them. Fox News’ owner, Rupert Murdoch, was a strong supporter of the war. The network introduced a waving flag animation in the upper left hand corner of all broadcasts of live war footage, with the headline “Operation Iraqi Freedom” running along the bottom of the screen.3 Fox was not the only network conveying subtle patriotism, many news reporters wearing flag pins, flag images, and...