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The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story; Prewar Articles Questioning Threat Often Didn't Make Front Page
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Journalism; Iraq War-2003; Weapons of mass destruction; Media coverage
Author: Kurtz, Howard
Date: Aug 12, 2004
Start Page: A.01
Section: A SECTION

From August 2002 through the March 19, 2003, launch of the war, The Post ran more than 140 front-page stories that focused heavily on administration rhetoric against Iraq. Some examples: "Cheney Says Iraqi Strike Is Justified"; "War Cabinet Argues for Iraq Attack"; "[Bush] Tells United Nations It Must Stand Up to [Saddam Hussein] or U.S. Will"; "Bush Cites Urgent Iraqi Threat"; "Bush Tells Troops: Prepare for War."

[Walter Pincus] was among the complainers. "Walter talked to me himself," [Leonard Downie Jr.] said. "He sought me out when he was frustrated, and I sought him out. We talked about how best to have stories be in the kind of shape that they could appear on the front page." Editors were also frustrated, Downie said. "Overall, in retrospect, we underplayed some of those stories."

The two men's recollections differ. [Bob Woodward] said that after comparing notes with Pincus, he gave him a draft story consisting of five key paragraphs, which said the administration's evidence for WMDs in Iraq "looks increasingly circumstantial and even shaky," according to "informed sources." Woodward said Pincus found his wording too strong.

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