Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pg. 99: Greg Mitchell's "So Wrong for So Long"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Greg Mitchell's So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits--And the President--Failed on Iraq.

About the book, from the publisher:
In early 2003, Greg Mitchell was one of the few mainstream journalists to seriously question the stated reasons for invading Iraq. In the years since, he has repeatedly challenged the media to probe the conduct of the war and its toll on our troops. Now, after five years of war, he traces the conflict -- from the “runup” to the “surge” -- and the media’s coverage of it, in this important collection of commentaries with significant new additions: an original introduction and dozens of pages of fresh material that unify the essays.

If a free press is the watchdog of democracy, then Greg Mitchell must be the watchdog of the watchdogs, tracking the performance of the media at Editor & Publisher, the influential magazine of the newspaper industry. Over the past five years, in his widely read column, “Pressing Issues,” he has repeatedly been ahead of the curve in intensely scrutinizing both the president and the press—and the controversies swirling around Donald Rumsfeld, Pat Tillman, “Scooter” Libby, Ann Coulter and numerous other figures.

His book is a unique history of the entire war—and as topical as today’s headlines. Whether writing early warnings that anticipated a long and bloody war, analyzing Stephen Colbert’s in-his-face mockery of George W. Bush, or imagining the president confessing his sins to Oprah Winfrey, Greg Mitchell explores how we got into the war in Iraq—and why we just can’t seem to get out. With tens of thousands of American troops still in Iraq, debate over the war continues to rage on TV news and across editorial pages. Against this backdrop of controversy, Greg Mitchell is the rare journalist who has seen it all with clear eyes. In So Wrong for So Long, he can finally tell the whole story.
Among the early praise for the book:
“The profound failure of the American press with regard to the Iraq War may very well be the most significant political story of this generation. Greg Mitchell has established himself as one of our country's most perceptive media critics, and here he provides invaluable insight into how massive journalistic failures enabled the greatest strategic disaster in the nation's history.”
—Glenn Greenwald, columnist and author of A Tragic Legacy and How Would a Patriot Act?

"Greg Mitchell has given us a razor-sharp critique of how the media and the government connived in one of the great blunders of American foreign policy. Every aspiring journalist, every veteran, every pundit—and every citizen who cares about the difference between illusion and reality, propaganda and the truth, and looks to the press to help keep them separate—should read this book. Twice."
—Bill Moyers

"With the tragic war in Iraq dragging on, and the drumbeat for new conflicts growing louder, this is more than a five-year history of the biggest foreign policy debacle of our times—it's a cautionary tale that is as relevant as this morning's headlines. Greg Mitchell makes it clear that Iraq is a case study in bad judgment, from the misguided moves of an administration blinded by its zealotry to a complacent media that too often acted as an extension of the White House press office. Read it and weep; read it and get enraged; read it and make sure it doesn't happen again."
—Arianna Huffington

"[W]orthy of shelving alongside the best of the Iraq books to date."

"Mitchell is a gift to his profession, and these columns are rich, rich reads. As an account of the failures of most journalists, it’s damning. A few shine throughout the years, Knight-Ridder’s Washington Bureau probably the most. But Mitchell isn’t just covering the press covering the administration and the war; there is real original thought and reporting going on in these columns as well, as he will often seek out the story behind the story—the parent behind the flag-draped coffin, for example. As a record of the times, this volume is a real gem of a reference book as well. The introductions to the columns each month are among the best quick sketches of the order of events I’ve run across. But more than that, despite the sorry performance of the press throughout the 21st century, there is a glimmer of hope that writers such as Mitchell and those he highlights continue to work in the media. This is a record, in many ways, of a shameful time when the national media drastically failed the American people. But it’s also a record of the few voices who objected, who reported and who tried to keep the truth in the forefront."

Read an excerpt from So Wrong for So Long at Salon, and learn more about Greg Mitchell at his blog.

Greg Mitchell is the editor of Editor & Publisher, the journal of the newspaper business which has won several major awards for its coverage of Iraq and the media. His books include Hiroshima in America (with Robert Jay Lifton) and The Campaign of the Century: Upton Sinclair's Race for Governor of California and the Birth of Media Politics, and his articles have appeared in dozens of leading newspapers and magazines.

The Page 99 Test: So Wrong for So Long.

--Marshal Zeringue