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Since many of the findings of Sir John Chilcot, must apply equally as much to the United States decision to go to war with Iraq as they do to Britain, has the report had much public discussion in America?

Whilst families of British soldiers killed in Iraq contemplate legal action for damages, have any American families similarly bereaved, indicated any intention to proceed against former President George W. Bush, or his administration?

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  • It looks like there are 'rumblings' from the US media about this : vox.com/2016/7/6/12105616/chilcot-report-iraq-blair-bush : although I suspect that there will be no repercussions...
    – Pat Dobson
    Jul 11 '16 at 11:25
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    "what is a chilcot report" 90% of americans Jul 11 '16 at 13:11
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    @hownowbrowncow The Bushes, the Rumsfeldts, and the Cheneys might actually find out what it is when they start getting lawsuits from bereaved families of dead US soldiers. Chilcot had access to correspondence between Bush and Blair.
    – WS2
    Jul 11 '16 at 15:40
  • I don't think that was actually asking, it was a characterization of the general status to the US public. Mar 31 '17 at 14:47
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It's had very little influence. People who are critical of the war and the Bush administration see the findings of confirmation of what they know. Those who supported and still support the actions will disregard, minimize or ignore them as much as possible.

The main problem is that the US media, given changes in ownership laws and general regulations over the past several decades, was a major part of the problem in the lead-up to the war and dissemination of phony information on Iraq, but also would be a necessary player in bringing prominence to these findings.

When broadcast networks were still the dominant force, and before Reagan essentially gutted enforcement of public service and "fairness doctrine" requirements for broadcast licenses (the airwaves were considered part of the publicly-owned commons, and radio and TV stations were ALLOWED use of them, which meant they had to meet certain requirements).

With ownership and consolidation rules relaxed, starting with Reagan and continuing until today, and the public service requirement gone, corporate ownership of news networks by media conglomerates has changed the very nature of news reporting. Network news used to be targeted at informing the public, as part of this service, and networks did not look to the news as a source of profit.

With media conglomerates now looking to maximize profits from all aspects of their holdings, we see that budgets are cut for all the hard, serious, background investigative reporting, and a stronger emphasis on a news product that brings more ratings, and garners more advertising revenue.

You now see more news stories being influenced by advertisers, you see "sponsored" news stories that are generated often by PR or marketing agencies to give a good view of their clients, and sold as content for news stations to deliver, without disclaimers about their sources. You see a fundamental dumbing-down of the news, and shift towards simple news that focuses on drama or conflict instead of deeper discussion of complex issues.

You see news networks that are loathe to broadcast news that their viewers might not like, for fear of losing ratings. This makes pandering a more likely editorial choice than hard truths. News, for the most part in the USA, is no longer about informing. That is why so many now refer to it as "infotainment."

Link this all back to the run-up to the Iraq war, you had a media that did not ask critical questions, basically cheerleaded the chest-thumping that was going on, and was manipulated and duped into propagating misinformation to the public.

Any retrospective looks have and/or will gloss that over, since it will be the very same media reporting about it. Any serious examination of the Chilcot findings would have to be paired with an examination of the messaging machine, processes and failings, and would also lead to a very uncomfortable message that our desire to fight that war, and the consequences, were, in a word, based on falsehoods that we willingly accepted, with horrible consequences for the region and our long-term security (ISIS, anyone?). That would mean reporting news that would be critical of the reporting media organizations, and also their viewers, the US citizens. Since they don't want to tell people news they don't want to hear, that's not going to happen.

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  • This is a good overview, but the circumlocution "news that their viewers might not like" glosses over too much. As often as not such in-house censorship is more a case of news their advertisers do not like, and passing that off on the benighted audience tends to blame the victim.
    – agc
    Mar 31 '17 at 15:26
  • @agc - I'm trying, with that specific phrase, to differentiate between catering to advertisers vs seeking ratings (which impacts what they can charge for advertising, which is more focused on keeping viewers, as opposed to not alienating advertisers). The choice of wording was intentional, but the point your are emphasizing is no less important. Mar 31 '17 at 15:39
  • For big media, the advertisers are the customer, the public is merely a necessary means to that end. The advertisers decide where to spend their budget, and the media bait their hooks to catch as many viewers as possible. Public (or viewer) agency exists to the extent they may collectively elect to swim elsewhere or perhaps organize advertiser boycotts -- but both of those usually require some other competing form of media to organize. I.E.: a televangelist (who is a kind of advertiser) might attempt to sabotage a critical news outlet by organizing a boycott.
    – agc
    Mar 31 '17 at 16:09
  • (cont.) In that instance, the televangelist and the advertiser are competing -- if the advertiser doesn't want to fight, they spike the story, or sacrifice the outlet. If the advertiser does want to fight, they promote the outlet, and try to make it louder.
    – agc
    Mar 31 '17 at 16:12
  • @agc - agreed. But there's a difference between spiking a Monsanto story because they will pull millions in advertising dollars, vs not doing a story that the USA does not have the best, most efficient health care system in the world, because the viewers might not want to hear that someone else might be better at something. Ratings vs. retaining direct advertising clients, while somewhat inter-linked, is the difference I'm emphasizing with that language. I'm talking more about the latter example, with the Iraq issue, than thinking the are concerns that Lockheed-Martin might pull money. Mar 31 '17 at 16:21

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