When I was covering the war in Iraq, we reporters would sometimes tune to Fox News and watch, mystified, as it purported to describe how Iraqis loved Americans. Such coverage (backed by delusional Journal editorials baffling to anyone who was actually in Iraq) misled conservatives about Iraq from the beginning. In retrospect, the real victims of Fox News weren't the liberals it attacked but the conservatives who believed it.
Historically, we in the press have done more damage to our nation by withholding secret information than by publishing it. One example was this newspaper's withholding details of the plans for the Bay of Pigs invasion. President Kennedy himself suggested that the U.S. would have been better served if The Times had published the full story and derailed the invasion.
Then there were the C.I.A. abuses that journalists kept mum about until they spilled over and prompted the Church Committee investigation in the 1970's. And there are secrets we should have found, but didn't: in the run-up to the Iraq war, the press -- particularly this newspaper -- was too credulous about claims that Iraq possessed large amounts of W.M.D.
In each of these cases, we were too compliant. We failed in our watchdog role, and we failed our country.
So be very wary of Mr. Bush's effort to tame the press. Watchdogs can be mean, dumb and obnoxious, but it would be even more dangerous to trade them in for lap dogs.
Read entire column at http://select.nytimes.com/2006/07/04/opinion/04kristof.html?hp=&pagewanted=print