The Moyers Show

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Many of our commenters have been asking (okay, demanding) that we respond to it. And I’ve been agonizing over the cost/benefit of doing that, considering how it is certain to generate a blogswarm. There’s a lot of anger out there at the media in general, and because we have opened up this blog to comments, we feel the brunt of it, aimed at us personally. But you asked, and being a blogger is all about interacting with your audience, so here’s what I think:

I watched the Moyers show (with a few interruptions, because the Swampkids had homework). And like most of you, I was horrified by the body of evidence that he presented–although, let’s face it, this wasn’t news to any of us. I think Jim Poniewozik had a terrific analysis of both the strengths and weaknesses of the presentation.

The media did a really bad job of covering the run-up to the war. Stipulated. But I’m not Judith Miller or Bill Kristol or any of the other people Moyers took to task; they can speak for themselves. I’m just a political reporter here at TIME, not a columnist or a foreign policy expert or a media critic. And all I can account for is what I wrote and said. So last night,with some trepidation, I went back and looked at the cover story that I wrote on the eve of the congressional vote in September 2002. And you know what? It was a pretty good story, rooted in a lot of skeptical reporting by my colleagues. Please read the whole thing. We at TIME didn’t have the answers, but at least we were asking the right questions:

Moral principles gain their power by being consistently applied. If it is dangerous for ruthless dictators to develop lethal arsenals, why attack Iraq but not North Korea? If the Iraqi people deserve to live in a free and democratic state, why don’t the Saudi people? If we are willing to pay the price of toppling Saddam, will we also pay the price of staying to clean up the neighborhood? And the thorniest question of all: If the last Gulf War helped inspire evil in bin Laden, will a new one create many more like him?

Okay, your turn…