Crittenden on Frontline Iraq War Doc

In case you were thinking of sitting  through 4 1/2 hours of Frontline's documentary "Bush's War," forget about it.

Columnist Jules Crittenden assures us that not only is the documentary not about Bush, but it apparently simply regurgitates left wing talking points about the war:

Because this entire documentary, from beginning to end, is not even a Bush-bash, it’s all Cheney-Rumsfeld bash. Bush, in the documentary named after him, gets some cameos, a walk-on here and there. He does have some speaking parts, he’s not entirely a spearholder. But Frontline makes it clear in what disregard they hold the president of the United States. He is a chump who gets pushed around and manipulated by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, despite the best, but tragically flawed efforts of Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA Director George Tenet. While the influence of those parties cannot be denied by any fair observer, it is not until he finally decides to get rid of Rumsfeld that the president of the United States presented as having much in the way of independent thought at all.

The Frontline documentarians, of course, avoid expressing any opinions. They rely on the liberal use … pun intended … of a series of scribblers from the New York Times, the Washington Post and other publications to do that for them. In fact, when Frontline can’t find actual participants to do so, Frontline relies on ink-stained wretches to ascribe motives to people and in one astonishing case, to fantasize what a particular meeting must have been like, along with presenting as fact the conjecture that results from the newsman’s usual second-, third- or fourth-in-line position in the game of information telegraph.
According to Crittenden, Frontline failed to interview any Rumsfeld or Cheney supporters for the program. This is par for the course as previous Frontline programs about Iraq have relied almost exclusively on fierce critics of the war effort to tell the story.

The section on the "16 words" controversy is typical according to Crittenden:

Frontline moves on to offer some detail on the stock versions of the pre-war intelligence failures and supposed distortions. It is largely an unquestioning review of conventional wisdom, and you’ll learn nothing here. The belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction is presented largely as a fact pushed by Cheney rather than as something believed by every major intelligence agency in the world, including those of nations that vehemently opposed this war. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin is once again allowed to oppose the war on humanitarian grounds with no mention of France’s keen interest in doing business with Saddam. The “16 words” controversy is presented by none other than Joe Wilson, with no mention of the view that – yellowcake deal or no yellowcake deal — Saddam Hussein in fact had been in the market for uranium in Africa. You can also remain innocent of the fact that Joe Wilson is himself a controversial figure whose qualifications for his task are highly questionable and were in fact a bizarre case of nepotism.
I have found many Frontline programs to be extremely well done - fair, thorough, and fascinating to watch. But on some subjects like presidential politics and Iraq, a horrendous and noticeable bias is so intrusive as to make the program nearly unwatchable. I believe this to be a function of a corporate culture at PBS which is clearly left wing and Frontline (as well as other political programs), which is independently produced, realizes this and develops its programs in order to play into that culture on some issues.

A shame. Frontline has the experience and track record to have done a first class documentary looking at all aspects of the war including those that do not conform to a leftist worldview. Why they didn't gives us another reason to find a way to either reform PBS and turn it into true "Public Television" or scrap the Corporation for Public Broadcasting alltogether.


 
In case you were thinking of sitting  through 4 1/2 hours of Frontline's documentary "Bush's War," forget about it.

Columnist Jules Crittenden assures us that not only is the documentary not about Bush, but it apparently simply regurgitates left wing talking points about the war:

Because this entire documentary, from beginning to end, is not even a Bush-bash, it’s all Cheney-Rumsfeld bash. Bush, in the documentary named after him, gets some cameos, a walk-on here and there. He does have some speaking parts, he’s not entirely a spearholder. But Frontline makes it clear in what disregard they hold the president of the United States. He is a chump who gets pushed around and manipulated by Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, despite the best, but tragically flawed efforts of Secretary of State Colin Powell and CIA Director George Tenet. While the influence of those parties cannot be denied by any fair observer, it is not until he finally decides to get rid of Rumsfeld that the president of the United States presented as having much in the way of independent thought at all.

The Frontline documentarians, of course, avoid expressing any opinions. They rely on the liberal use … pun intended … of a series of scribblers from the New York Times, the Washington Post and other publications to do that for them. In fact, when Frontline can’t find actual participants to do so, Frontline relies on ink-stained wretches to ascribe motives to people and in one astonishing case, to fantasize what a particular meeting must have been like, along with presenting as fact the conjecture that results from the newsman’s usual second-, third- or fourth-in-line position in the game of information telegraph.
According to Crittenden, Frontline failed to interview any Rumsfeld or Cheney supporters for the program. This is par for the course as previous Frontline programs about Iraq have relied almost exclusively on fierce critics of the war effort to tell the story.

The section on the "16 words" controversy is typical according to Crittenden:

Frontline moves on to offer some detail on the stock versions of the pre-war intelligence failures and supposed distortions. It is largely an unquestioning review of conventional wisdom, and you’ll learn nothing here. The belief that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction is presented largely as a fact pushed by Cheney rather than as something believed by every major intelligence agency in the world, including those of nations that vehemently opposed this war. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin is once again allowed to oppose the war on humanitarian grounds with no mention of France’s keen interest in doing business with Saddam. The “16 words” controversy is presented by none other than Joe Wilson, with no mention of the view that – yellowcake deal or no yellowcake deal — Saddam Hussein in fact had been in the market for uranium in Africa. You can also remain innocent of the fact that Joe Wilson is himself a controversial figure whose qualifications for his task are highly questionable and were in fact a bizarre case of nepotism.
I have found many Frontline programs to be extremely well done - fair, thorough, and fascinating to watch. But on some subjects like presidential politics and Iraq, a horrendous and noticeable bias is so intrusive as to make the program nearly unwatchable. I believe this to be a function of a corporate culture at PBS which is clearly left wing and Frontline (as well as other political programs), which is independently produced, realizes this and develops its programs in order to play into that culture on some issues.

A shame. Frontline has the experience and track record to have done a first class documentary looking at all aspects of the war including those that do not conform to a leftist worldview. Why they didn't gives us another reason to find a way to either reform PBS and turn it into true "Public Television" or scrap the Corporation for Public Broadcasting alltogether.