Saddam Hussein was allied with al-Qaeda, and helped finance the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Hussein regime had sought uranium from Niger. Iraq had obtained aluminum tubes to be used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
All of those assertions turned out to be false. But they echoed throughout the press in the months-long run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and only after the war turned to disaster did the media engage in soul-searching and self-criticism. And even then, many sought to deflect blame. Judith Miller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter whose front-page story about the aluminum tubes bolstered the case for war in Iraq explained: “My job isn’t to assess the government’s information and be an independent intelligence analyst myself. My job is to tell readers of The New York Times what the government thought about Iraq's arsenal.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign, reporters marveled at the ability of Donald Trump and his surrogates to create an alternate reality in which statements made by the candidate had not been made at all—from his view that global warming is a hoax, to his nonexistent opposition to the Iraq War, to his refusal to say he would concede in the event of a loss, to his remarks about his relationship to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. These are people who could argue that the sky is green without a blink. They were able to win a presidential election while doing so. Now they will have the entire apparatus of the federal government to bolster their lies, and the mainstream press is woefully unprepared to cover them.