Gary Kamiya, writng in Salon, has an important article on why the media failed. He leads with:
It's no secret that the period of time between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq represents one of the greatest collapses in the history of the American media. Every branch of the media failed, from daily newspapers, magazines and Web sites to television networks, cable channels and radio.
Kamiya's article is excellent; I highly recommend this to be standard reading for anyone who consumes news. I've carped on this subject here - a lot. So, I'm not going to recite his writing - you can get that from the source.
I did however, want to take a moment to at least give some applause the heroes of the media, those who spoke truth to power. From Kariya:
Not all was lost. Some of the best breaking commentary was on the Internet, on blogs like Juan Cole's "Informed Comment" and Helena Cobban's "Just World News," but these sites had a limited readership. There were some notable exceptions on the print side, like the superb reporting of Knight Ridder's Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, who aggressively reported out the Bush administration's bogus claims about the "threat" posed by Saddam Hussein. The Washington Post's Walter Pincus also questioned Bush administration claims about WMD (his big pre-war story on this subject, after almost being killed, was relegated to page A-17). And the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh and Mark Danner, writing for the New York Review of Books, also distinguished themselves with excellent coverage of Abu Ghraib, following the thread that led directly from the blood-spattered rooms outside Baghdad to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
If you don't know these authors (and I will admit I do not read Pincus' column), its time to do so.