Wednesday, February 15, 2006

They Write Letters

Barbara Crossette writes to Romenesko:

From BARBARA CROSSETTE: A brief comment on Daniel Okrent's remarks about the decline of investigative reporting:

He is right about the prewar coverage of WMD in Iraq, but this lapse does not fit into the category of something too expensive to investigate properly. Over more than a decade, the UN [where I was NYT bureau chief from 1994 to 2001] had accumulated exhaustive documentation on Iraqi weapons programs and prospects. UN teams had also destroyed hundreds of tons of illegal weapons and potential ammunition, so there was no inbuilt naivety or trust for Saddam Hussein's regime. Few Washington reporters ever asked to pore over the accumulated material stored in New York, UN officials say. American reporters were largely not only ignoring a cheap wealth of independent and often contradictory information close at hand but were also not immune to Bush administration efforts to discredit the UN and its inspectors. And then, of course, some reporters were just looking for scoops at any professional price.