Until then, asking the tough questions seems wise, even as cruise missiles have already fallen on Syria.
But reporters, even prior to Thursday's U.S. missile attack on Syria, weren't entertaining such questions. That was visible in a contentious exchange Wednesday between CNN host Kate Bolduan and Rep. Thomas Massie, who questioned what Assad's motive for launching the chemical attack would be.
The Washington Post quickly followed up CNN's interview with a story portraying the Kentucky Republican's position as less than credible ("Massie could be increasingly a party of one on this issue").
Amidst the Post story's unflattering framing, Massie's quotes stand out.
"Let me ask you this: Who benefits? Who benefits, if chemical weapons were used and America weighs in on the side of the rebels, or wades into a war against Assad?"
Robert Parry, an investigative reporter with ConsortiumNews, asked a similar question.
"Since Assad's forces have gained a decisive upper-hand over the rebels, why would he risk stirring up international outrage at this juncture? On the other hand, the desperate rebels might view the horrific scenes from the chemical-weapons deployment as a last-minute game-changer."
Asking such questions doesn't mean "Assad's forces are innocent," writes Parry, "but a serious investigation ascertains the facts and then reaches a conclusion, not the other way around."
'We should stay the hell out of Syria'
Previously Trump indicated he wouldn't push for Assad's ouster, but instead would work with the Syrian government's biggest backer, Russia, to fight the Islamic State.
Back in 2013, after a prior chemical attack near Damascus, it was Trump, via Twitter, who counseled President Obama not to go after Assad.
"We should stay the hell out of Syria, the 'rebels' are just as bad as the current regime," tweeted Trump.
Now it's Trump, with the media's encouragement, who has launched a military attack on Assad.
It's worth recalling that in regards to the 2013 chemical attack, in addition to Obama, The New York Times said it had proved Assad was responsible, only to later issue a quiet correction of sorts, which few noticed, Parry reported.
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