NBC Monday announced that from that point forward it would describe the Iraq conflict as "a civil war."
To announce this radical change in policy, NBC didn't send out serious Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. Nah, this story is too big for Brian. Give it to the prince of fluff, Today's Matt Lauer.
"For the most part news organizations like NBC hesitated to characterize it as such," Lauer told the Monday morning audience. "After careful consideration, NBC News has decided the change in terminology is warranted and what is going on in Iraq can now be characterized as civil war."
Interesting that as the reports of daily slaughter increase in Iraq, NBC chooses to announce its decision on the show where news is an afterthought. I'm surprised Lauer had time to report it amid all the stories about Christmas shopping, winter fashions and the latest antics of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
Keith Olberman gave it more serious treatment Monday night on his MSNBC Countdown show but that came after a full day of White House spin claiming the trouble in Iraq as all al-Qaida's fault and how dare a news organization call a civil war a civil war. But that's the White House, where truth is treated as an enemy combatant.
NBC joined The Los Angeles Times, which quietly began calling it a civil war over the weekend. The Times didn't see a need to trumpet its decision. It just instructed writers to call a civil war a civil war.
Other news organizations stick with the White House spin. The Washington Post refers to what is happening in Iraq as "sectarian strife" while Reuters calls it "sectarian conflict" and McClatchy Newspapers say it is "sectarian violence."
But The Christian Science Monitor, which I've long considered the best newspaper in America, refers to it as a "deepening civil war" while Fareed Zakaria in this week's Newsweek is far more blunt.
We're in the middle of a civil war and are being shot at by both sides. There can be no more doubt that Iraq is in a civil war, in which leaders of both its main communities, Sunnis and Shiites, are fomenting violence.
Interestingly, Newsweek is owned by The Washington Post Company where Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Dana Priest told MNBC's Chris Matthews:
It seems to me, the President's afraid that people will begin to think it is a civil war and not the way he wants to define it, which is we gotta fight them there before they fight us here.
Well, I think one of the reasons the President resists that label is because it equates almost with a failure of U.S. policy. I will say for The Washington Post, we have not labeled it a civil war. I have asked around to see why not or see what's the thinking on that -- and really our reporters have not filed that. We try to avoid the labels, particularly when the elected government itself does not call its situation a civil war. I certainly - and I would agree with General McCaffrey on this - absolutely the level of violence equals a civil war.
In other words, the Post will not call the civil war what it is until either the White House or the government of Iraq says it's OK to do so. Gotta wonder when the mighty Washington Post became a propaganda machine for the Bush White House.
And the White House? They say they've never even heard of a civil war in Iraq.
"While the situation on the ground is very serious, neither Prime Minister Maliki nor we believe that Iraq is in a civil war," reads the official release from the White House press office.
Of course this is the same White House that believed weapons of mass destruction would be found in Irag and that Saddam and Osama were shacking up to plan 9/11.
For the record, we've been calling it a civil war for months now because that's exactly what is happening in Iraq.
So who are you gonna believe? Us or your lying President?
Original at Capitol Hill Blue