Anatomy of Deceit

Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy
by Marcy Wheeler [Vaster]

With her first book, blogger Marcy Wheeler exemplifies the very best contributions to civil discourse being made by nonprofessional commentators and researchers on the web. The book's task is at once simple and complex – narrating and deconstructing how the Bush Administration used cooked-up intelligence and the willing help of a few prominent DC journalists to mislead the country into the Iraq War. News coverage of the story turned some of its key players (Scooter Libby, Judith Miller, Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame, Patrick Fitzgerald) into household names. But as happens too often in today's DC insider-beat journalism, reporters and networks lost sight of the truly big stories – how Federal Government officials pursued a policy of grand-scale public deception – and how some of the same officials cynically snuffed out the career of an undercover intelligence agent, as part of a political hit job. Instead, press coverage tended to repeat White House messages and frames, or treat the investigation into Plame's outing as an inconsequential game of tit-for-tat. In this environment, it was often progressive bloggers like Wheeler who regrounded the story in democratic values, including the very basic work of simply creating a narrative that ordinary folks can follow. By doing so, Wheeler has performed a valuable act of journalism – at the same time demonstrating how rare that can be in Washington DC these days. -jl

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey