The title of former CIA director George Tenet's new book, “At the Center of the Storm” proved cannily prophetic as he embarked on a media tour last week. If Tenet's intent was to distance himself from the decision to launch the now unpopular war in Iraq, the effect instead was to ignite a debate over his integrity and judgment.
In a May 2 interview on CNN's “Situation Room,” an unusually combative Wolf Blitzer grilled Tenet, whose book was critical of White House planning for Iraq, about why he did not do more to stop the momentum toward war. “You met with the President every single morning,” said Blitzer. “If you didn't think it was worthwhile going to war against Saddam Hussein, you clearly could have made this case.”
“You're being, as you know, criticized from the left, from the right, from the center,” added Blitzer, as he read critical remarks about Tenet from such ideologically diverse figures as Maureen Dowd and William F. Buckley Jr.
Two days earlier, conservative blogger Michelle Malkin—subbing for Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly—asked one of her guests about Tenet's April 29 appearance on “60 Minutes.”
“Didn't you get the impression of somebody who was just a pathetic whiner?” she asked.
The controversy generated by Tenet's new book was the fourth biggest story last week, filling 5% of the overall newshole, according to PEJ's News Coverage Index from April 29 through May 4. But the Tenet tempest was really part of a bigger subject—the conflict in Iraq—that continues to dominate the media landscape like no other issue, and which last week spawned many different story lines.
Read the full article and view charts on the Project for Excellence in Journalism Web site.