Today, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was strongly challenged at a speech in Atlanta. Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, accused Rumsfeld of lying. When Rumsfeld denied the charge he was met with his own quotes.
Anyone watching "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" got to see the supportive evidence that Rumsfeld was indeed lying. So why does coverage often not reflect this?
This is how CNN covered it online, using a thoroughly incomplete AP story:
"Protesters repeatedly interrupted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a speech Thursday, and one man, a former CIA analyst, accused him of lying about Iraq prewar intelligence in an unusually vociferous display of anti-war sentiment.
"'Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?' asked Ray McGovern, the former analyst.
"'I did not lie,' shot back Rumsfeld, who waved off security guards ready to remove McGovern from the hall at the Southern Center for International Studies."
Mr. McGovern used verbatim quotes by Sec. Rumsfeld that the Secretary denied making. But those quotes were, in fact, correct, and part of the public record. Why would AP not report about that?
Meanwhile CNN's Paula Zahn, interviewing McGovern, asks him if he has an axe to grind, instead of discussing the implications of Rumsfeld being caught in a lie.
If an official is shown to lie isn't that at least peripherally newsworthy?
Instead, the entire story is about the fact that critics are able to challenge this insular White House at all.
As we continue to note these news institutions as MIA, it makes it easier to understand the role they played in helping lead us into war.