For example, here's Taibbi on the spectacle of the New York Times confessing the WMD story was bogus:
"The problem wasn't a small, isolated ethical error, like Judith Miller's Chalabi reporting. The error here was not a mistake of fact. The problem was that a central tenet of our system of news reporting dictates that lies of consensus will never be considered punishable mistakes. In other words, once everyone jumps in the water, a story acquires its own legitimacy.That was from last week's issue. And here's Ames this week, reviewing a mild, rational critique of the NYT:
And now we get papers like the Times wondering aloud why they didn't feel the ground under their feet. Answer: you jumped in the water. And you knew what you were doing."
"...rather than seeing the Times for the nest of Vichy collabos that it is, [authors of the book] engage the beast with punishing salvoes [sic] of rational argument. [...] The problem with this thesis is that it assumes that the New York Times people are nice guys ... How do you present rational counter-arguments to powerful people who lie intentionally solely in order to remain powerful? You can't."
His proposed solution?
"In 1999, America bombed the main TV tower in Belgrade and killed several Serbian journalists, citing the Geneva Conventions articles that say that any organ propagandizing for genocide is itself a legitimate target in warfare and for prosecution of war crimes. Let the Geneva Conventions be the basis for a similar argument against the New York Times: It is guilty of war crimes in Iraq and Serbia... Dont ask them to consider international law in their workapply international law to them instead, based on their records, and apply it roughly. That is the only language these people understand."
Ames and Taibbi both suggest lying deliberately on behalf of power is in the Gray Lady's institutional psychology. After all the lies the paper (along with many others, who've done even worse!) peddled about the Balkans, I'm inclined to agree.
As for the "why" of it all, read Stephen Bender's story about Edward Bernays on LRC today.