Defending media's war coverage, NBC's Gregory asked, "Where was Congress?" (Answer: Most Dems were voting against the bill)

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

Discussing the run-up to the Iraq war on Hardball, David Gregory said, "If there wasn't a debate in this country, then maybe the American people should think about, why not? Where was Congress? Where was the House? Where was the Senate?" In fact, a majority of congressional Democrats voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in October 2002. Of the 258 Democrats in Congress at the time, 147 voted against the resolution, while 110 voted for it. One Democrat did not vote.

Defending "the media" and their performance in the run-up to the Iraq war, NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory asserted during the May 28 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, "I think the questions were asked. I think we pushed. I think we prodded. I think we challenged the president. I think not only those of us in the White House press corps did that, but others in the rest of the landscape of the media did that." He then said, "If there wasn't a debate in this country, then maybe the American people should think about, why not? Where was Congress? Where was the House? Where was the Senate?" In fact, a majority of congressional Democrats voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq in October 2002 -- as Media Matters for America noted in previously highlighting comments by a Hardball participant ignoring opposition by congressional Democrats to the war authorization bill. Of the 258 Democrats in Congress at the time, 147 voted against the resolution, while 110 voted for it. One Democrat did not vote.

Media Matters Senior Fellow Eric Boehlert wrote in a May 28 column that when given the opportunity to report on Democrats' opposition to the Iraq war, "[t]he press was going to downplay them, marginalize them, and ignore them. Even if those critics included high-wattage political stars like Ted Kennedy." Boehlert went on to write that a September 27, 2002, speech by Sen. Kennedy (MA), explaining in detail his opposition to invading Iraq, went largely unreported in the media. Indeed, according to the Nexis database, Gregory did five reports on NBC's Nightly News that mentioned Iraq in the month following Kennedy's speech, and none mentioned Kennedy.

From the May 28 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

CHRIS MATTHEWS (host): Let's take a look at what McClellan had to say here about the media.

Here he is, faulting the press. He wrote, quote, "If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq. The collapse of the administration's rationales for war should never have come as such a surprise. In this case, the," quote, "liberal media," close quote, "didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served."

David?

GREGORY: I think he's wrong. He makes the same kind of argument a lot of people on the left have made. I tried not to be defensive about it. I've thought a lot about this over a number of years, and I disagree with that assessment.

I think the questions were asked. I think we pushed. I think we prodded. I think we challenged the president. I think not only those of us in the White House press corps did that, but others in the rest of the landscape of the media did that.

If there wasn't a debate in this country, then maybe the American people should think about, why not? Where was Congress? Where was the House? Where was the Senate? Where was public opinion about the war? What did the former president believe about the prewar intelligence? He agreed that -- in fact, Bill Clinton agreed that Saddam had WMD.

The right questions were asked. I think there's a lot of critics -- and I guess we can count Scott McClellan as one -- who thinks that if we did not debate the president, debate the policy in our role as journalists, if we did not stand up and say, "This is bogus," and "You're a liar," and "Why are you doing this?" that we didn't do our job. And I respectfully disagree. It's not our role.

MATTHEWS: OK. Let me go to -- let me go to Mike Allen.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
MSNBC, NBC
Person
David Gregory
Show/Publication
Hardball
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