In the week leading up to its PBS broadcast on April 25, 2007, Bill Moyers Journal - "Buying the War" was billed as a hard-hitting documentary exposing the weaknesses of the american press and how they "got it so wrong" in the run up to the invasion of Iraq.

Bill Moyers

In the months leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. news media was relentless in its presentation of Saddam Hussein as an evil and deceitful monster, armed with weapons of mass destruction which he was poised to set loose on the world. He was also the power behind the terrorists who carried out the attacks on September 11, 2001 in cahoots with Al Qaeda. The US adminisration presented their case for invasion, and the media dutifully presented it, hammering the points home until every American got the message.
BILL MOYERS: ... of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC and CBS nightly news, from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.
How was it that the the major news outlets simply went along with the administration's assertions? Bill Moyers tells us how it happened, and gave some examples. Here are two:
BILL MOYERS: James Bamford is an independent journalist whose specialty is the intelligence world.

JAMES BAMFORD: Chalabi was a creature of American propaganda to a large degree. It was a American company, the Rendon Group, that - working secretly with the CIA - basically created his organization, the Iraqi National Congress. And put Chalabi in charge basically. He charmed Congress out of millions more dollars for his cause, and had the press eating out of his hand. He made a lot of friends in the media. And, he convinced a lot of people that he was legitimate. When Chalabi made selected Iraqi defectors available to the press it was a win-win game: the defectors got a platform. Journalists got big scoops.

JOHN WALCOTT: What he did was reasonably clever but fairly obvious, which is he gave the same stuff to some reporters that, for one reason or another, he felt would simply report it. And then he gave the same stuff to people in the Vice President's office and in the Secretary of Defense's office. And so, if the reporter called the Department of Defense or the Vice President's office to check, they would've said, "Oh, I think that's-- you can go with that. We have that, too." So, you create the appearance, or Chalabi created the appearance, that there were two sources, and that the information had been independently confirmed, when, in fact, there was only one source. And it hadn't been confirmed by anybody.
BILL MOYERS: Quoting anonymous administration officials, the TIMES reported that Saddam Hussein had launched a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb using specially designed aluminimum tubes...
And there on MEET THE PRESS that same morning was Vice President Cheney.
DICK CHENEY: There's a story in the NEW YORK TIMES this morning, this is-- and I want to attribute this to the TIMES -- I don't want to talk about obviously specific intelligence sources, but... (MEET THE PRESS NBC 9/8/02)

Thankfully, it isn't that the press is corrupt, or that there is some kind of control mechanism in place to make sure only certain stories get published. The press got tricked. They got tricked because were lazy:
TIM RUSSERT: What my concern was, is that there were concerns expressed by other government officials. And to this day, I wish my phone had rung, or I had access to them.

WALTER ISAACSON: It definitely is and I think we in the press, we're not critical enough. We didn't question our sources enough.

DAN RATHER: We weren't smart enough, we were alert enough, we didn't dig enough. And we shouldn't have been fooled in this way.
The members of the press had failed, but we can forgive them. After all, they were traumatized by 911, and suffered from the same surge of patriotism that affected all Americans:
DAN RATHER : George Bush is the President, he makes the decisions and you know, as just one American wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where. (on LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN (9/17/01)
Moyers lets us see that the media screwed up, but that many of them have learned their lesson. But they might not be able to do better in the future, things being the way they are:

Fear is in every newsroom in the country. And fear of what? Well, it's the fear-- if-- it's a combination of; if you don't go along to get along, you're going to get the reputation of being a troublemaker. There's also the fear that, you know, particularly in networks, they've become huge, international conglomerates. They have big needs, legislative needs, repertory needs in Washington. Nobody has to send you a memo to tell you that that's the case.
So perhaps the press has been corrupted, at least the large media companies.

Fortunately, there are heroes in the hinterland. The newshounds at Knight-Ridder were not fooled, but they had no outlets in the major markets.
BILL MOYERS: Landay found plenty of evidence to contradict the official propaganda, and the facts quickly changed his mind.

I -- simply spent basically a month familiarizing myself, with what Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programs had been and what had happened to them. And, there was tons of material available on that from the UN weapons inspectors. I mean, they got into virtually everything, and their reports were online. If you go down here the Iraq Nuclear Verification Office, they put up regular-here you go-key findings, what they found out about Iraq's nuclear weapons programs. It's all here in the open for anybody who wants to read it.
Moyers presents us with the problem, but he has no suggestions for a solution. It does not appear as if the situation is going to improve any time soon. In fact, things are getting worse:
BILL MOYERS: It's true, so many of the advocates and apologists for the war are still flourishing in the media. Bill Kristol and Peter Beinart, for example, are now regular contributors to TIME magazine, which has been laying off dozens of reporters. And remember this brilliant line?
PRESIDENT BUSH: We cannot wait for the final proof: the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.
BILL MOYERS: The man who came up with it was Michael Gerson. President Bush's top speechwriter. He has left the White House and has been hired by THE WASHINGTON POST as a columnist.
After watching the documentary, this viewer was left with the impression that there is a battle going on in the American media between the pro-Bush group represented by the FOX network, The Washington Post, etc. (the liars); and a group of old-fashioned, hard working journalists (the truthers). The liars are winning, with no end in sight.

At least one question remains, however. Since it would have been good journalism to doubt the administration's assertions about Iraq, why would it not be just as good to doubt them about 9/11? Even the heroes at Knight-Ridder have accepted the sacred dogma that "Al Qaeda did it".

The documentary can be viewed, and the transcript can be read, here.