5 Years Ago: Why Was Public So Misinformed on Facts Leading to War?

By E&P Staff

Published: March 23, 2008 11:10 AM ET
NEW YORK Five years ago today, as the U.S invasion of Iraq continued in its early stages, E&P published an article by Ari Berman, then an intern here, that examined the public attitudes on the eve of the war. He probed polls that found, on the most basic point, that roughly 2 out of 3 Americans backed an assault on Iraq.

But the attitudes driving those numbers raised serious issues about a misinformed public and the media’s role. He found that a startlingly high percentage falsely believed that Saddam helped plan the 9/11 attacks or Iraqi hijackers were involved that day, and that Iraqi WMD had already been found.
When the war dies down, editors and media analysts should catch their breath and ask themselves: How much did press coverage (or lack of coverage) contribute to the public backing for a pre-emptive invasion without the support of the United Nations?

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