Andrew Sullivan points to a piece by the The New York Times’ John F. Burns on how the media ignored the horrors of the Hussein regime. In order to get access, reporters in Iraq essentially became willing participants in Saddam Hussein’s mass murder of thousands of Iraqis:
There were correspondents who thought it appropriate to seek the approbation of the people who governed their lives. This was the ministry of information, and particularly the director of the ministry. By taking him out for long candlelit dinners, plying him with sweet cakes, plying him with mobile phones at $600 each for members of his family, and giving bribes of thousands of dollars. Senior members of the information ministry took hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes from these television correspondents who then behaved as if they were in Belgium. They never mentioned the function of minders. Never mentioned terror.
In one case, a correspondent actually went to the Internet Center at the Al-Rashid Hotel and printed out copies of his and other people’s stories — mine included — specifically in order to be able to show the difference between himself and the others. He wanted to show what a good boy he was compared to this enemy of the state. He was with a major American newspaper.
There are no words to describe how disgusting this is. While Saddam Hussein was murdering civilians, members of the American media were wining and dining members of the Hussein regime and deliberately spinning their stories to match the wishes of the regime.
There are those who say that it is going to far to refer to the press as "fifth columnists". Then something like this comes along and shows that the name fits. The media has the obligation to tell the truth in these matters, and to have the media be the willing tools of an oppressive regime is more than violation of public trust, it is a violation of every moral principle of journalism.