Richard Armitage on the Media and the Iraq War

Question: Has the media been helpful in improving the public discourse?

Armitage:    I think it was very unhelpful following 9/11 because I think they stepped away from their traditional role of oversight.  Any Executive branch, in my view, which doesn’t have a strong oversight from Congress and the strong checking of our free press will go off the tracks.  Anyone – Democrat, Republican, third party.  So our system demands this tension, and I would say that members of the press were primarily AWOL for a couple of years.  They’ve come back now.  Now an administration or any administration which depends on the press for spinning to get their message out should not, then, be upset if the press doesn’t entirely buy the spin, or is somewhat critical of you.  And I think there’s a lot of time spent damning the press and denigrating the press when they’re actually used to doing their own job.  In other words you can’t depend on them to be spun and then be angry with them when they’re . . . you know when they’re being somewhat critical.  You can’t have it both ways.

Why the press went AWOL after Sept. 11.

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