13.8.04

Mea culpa

The Washington Post se ha unido a la lista de medios de comunicación de EEUU que han entonado el mea culpa por su cobertura de las armas de destrucción masiva iraquíes que justificaron la guerra y que nunca llegaron a aparecer: The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story.

As violence continues in postwar Iraq and U.S. forces have yet to discover any WMDs, some critics say the media, including The Washington Post, failed the country by not reporting more skeptically on President Bush's contentions during the run-up to war.

An examination of the paper's coverage, and interviews with more than a dozen of the editors and reporters involved, shows that The Post published a number of pieces challenging the White House, but rarely on the front page. Some reporters who were lobbying for greater prominence for stories that questioned the administration's evidence complained to senior editors who, in the view of those reporters, were unenthusiastic about such pieces. The result was coverage that, despite flashes of groundbreaking reporting, in hindsight looks strikingly one-sided at times.

"The paper was not front-paging stuff," said Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks. "Administration assertions were on the front page. Things that challenged the administration were on A18 on Sunday or A24 on Monday. There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?"

In retrospect, said Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr., "we were so focused on trying to figure out what the administration was doing that we were not giving the same play to people who said it wouldn't be a good idea to go to war and were questioning the administration's rationale. Not enough of those stories were put on the front page. That was a mistake on my part."


Las declaraciones de los altos cargos de la Administración de Bush aparecían siempre en primera página, y los artículos en los que se describía la ausencia de pruebas consistentes y las dudas que tenían miembros de la CIA y expertos aparecían, cuando lo hacían, en las páginas interiores del periódico.

En realidad, el artículo no es una rectificación oficial ni un proyecto encargado por el director del Post. Se trata de una iniciativa personal del reportero Howard Kurtz, que cubre habitualmente las noticias relacionadas con los medios de comunicación y que publica varias veces a la semana la columna Media Notes en la web del periódico.

El Post fue el periódico que más hizo por destapar el escándalo del Watergate, entre cosas porque se basó en la idea de que no toda la información que surge del Gobierno es cierta. A veces, los políticos mienten o simplemente se equivocan. En los meses anteriores a la invasión de Irak, el Post decidió olvidar este criterio.

Nueva expiación de The New York Times Periodistas 21.