RG-J disses history

The Reno Gazette-Journal Sunday ran a couple of items that seek to rewrite the history of the run-up to the war in Iraq along lines favored by the Bush administration.

In an editorial, the newspaper called Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who helped lead the nation into war by publishing the Bush administration’s unscrutinized claims about weapons of mass destruction, “an icon of the principle of open government"—a description that infuriated some of the RG-J’s own working reporters. Miller’s gullibility figures prominently in the new book So Wrong for So Long, an account of press bungling in the run-up to the war by Greg Mitchell, editor of the industry trade publication Editor & Publisher.

And the newspaper posted without change on its website an Associated Press report on John McCain’s visit to Baghdad that stated as fact the Bush administration’s disputed claim that Saddam Hussein gassed the Kurdish town of Halabja 20 years ago—the basis for the Bush charge that Hussein “gassed his own people.” Several agencies of the Reagan administration, including the State Department, Defense Intelligence Agency, and Central Intelligence Agency, said at the time of the attack in 1988 that the types of gas used made it clear that Iran, not Iraq, was behind the gas attack, conclusions that were reversed after Bush became president.