Conditions in Iraq appear to be deteriorating so badly that CIA officials are now leaking to reporters left and right, signaling a new dynamic in press coverage of the war. Columnist Robert Novak noted this on Monday in a column titled, “Is CIA at War With Bush?”
In a Washington Post article Dana Priest and Thomas E. Ricks report:
“A growing number of career professionals within national security agencies believe that the situation in Iraq is much worse, and the path to success much more tenuous, than is being expressed in public by top Bush administration officials, according to former and current government officials and assessments over the past year by intelligence officials at the CIA and the departments of State and Defense.
“While President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others have delivered optimistic public appraisals, officials who fight the Iraqi insurgency and study it at the CIA and the State Department and within the Army officer corps believe the rebellion is deeper and more widespread than is being publicly acknowledged, officials say.”
The press has been rightly ciriticised for doing a bad job in the lead up to the war. But these recent stories point to the interdependence of the press and the current political environment. In a fractured political environment, the press has much greater access to oppositional sources. Yes it is true that good investigative journalism will always find those sources in any environment, they do however become much easier to locate and convince in an environment like todays. It could however be argued that this is all chicken and egg effect. The press itself must also play a role in creating an environment for critique to emerge.