|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Appearing on "Meet the Press" with Tim Russert this week, two broadcast veterans, Tom Brokaw of NBC and Ted Koppel, agreed that the press shouldn't be faulted too harshly for not questioning more deeply the claims of WMD in Iraq -- and declared that Bill Clinton would have gone into Iraq just like George Bush if he was still president after 9/11.
Along with Russert, they also argued that it was a "uniformly held belief" that Saddam Hussein had WMD when the Iraq war began.
Here is the relevant excerpt from the transcript.
KOPPEL: Do we have a right to ask critical -- not just a right; do we have an obligation to ask critical questions? And did we fall short of that prior to the Iraq War? That's a perfectly legitimate point, and I think we all have to plead guilty, to one degree or another, to having been, you know, a little bit soft on the administration beforehand.
But in large measure, when the president and his top people tell you, as they did, "Here's our perception of what exists. Here's our perception of the danger to the United States. Here's our perception of a relationship between this guy who has weapons of mass destruction and the group that just blew up the Pentagon and the World Trade Center," I don't know that reporters as a whole can sit there and say, "Oh, hokum. You know, it's just not true." We can raise questions, and I...
BROKAW: Given the absence of hard evidence.
KOPPEL: Hard evidence. Right.
BROKAW: There was not -- you know, the French intelligence were sharing the same conclusions with the administration. I thought -- I agree with you that I don't think that we pushed hard enough for vigorous debate. I think that on Capitol Hill that the debate was anemic, at best. You had -- Ted Kennedy and Senator Byrd, really, were the only ones speaking out with any kind of passion in the Senate, the people who...
RUSSERT: And they were not questioning whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
BROKAW: No. No. No.
RUSSERT: That seemed to be a uniformly held belief.
BROKAW: Right. Yeah.
KOPPEL: Nor did the Clinton administration beforehand.
KOPPEL: I mean, the only difference between the Clinton administration and the Bush administration was 9/11.
KOPPEL: If 9/11 had happened on Bill Clinton's watch, he would have gone into Iraq.
BROKAW: Yeah. Yeah.