The elite press, the Bush administration, and Iraq: ideology confines scrutiny in the Post and the Times
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This study examines whether ideology or a reliance on official sources is the primary influence upon the elite media during times of armed conflict by analyzing the Iraq war coverage in the Washington Post and the New York Times. By August 2004 each newspaper had admitted that its coverage nearly two years earlier of the run-up to war failed to adequately scrutinize the Bush administration. Each newspaper vowed to do better. The Post and the Times laid out a host of explanations for what influenced their reporting, including individual, media routines, organizational, and extra media factors, but this study shows that an ideology of moral imperialism perpetuated the hegemonic frame of the Bush administration both before and after each newspaper's published self criticism. By moral imperialism, the author means a perspective held by the Post and the Times that the United States is right and just and its system of beliefs and government is superior to that of the rest of the world. A textual analysis of the news stories shows how that ideology restricted context, marginalized dissenting viewpoints, and limited scrutiny of the U.S. government. The research suggests that ideology rather than a reliance on official sources is the primary media influence during times of armed conflict.