Drama critic turned liberal editor/columnist Frank Rich appeared on Oprah's show Thursday to hawk his new book, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of the Truth," a distillation of his long-running criticisms of Bush and Iraq that have appeared on a weekly basis in his long op-eds for the Sunday Week in Review.
Here are some highlights from the conversation, based on the transcript posted on Nexis.
Winfrey: "So you think that the war was sold to America?
Rich: "I think it was sold. What everyone thinks of the war, whether you agree with it or not, it was sold basically on some false premises that involved making us fearful of mushroom clouds coming from Iraq, making us belief that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11 when he didn't. And those two story lines were not true. There may have been other reasons for going into Iraq, maybe even legitimate ones, but not the reasons that we were sold to drum up war fever."
Later Winfrey sets him up with quotes from his book: "OK. Let's move on to this fake news."
Winfrey: "Yeah. You say on page 163: 'The administration's propaganda machinery encompassed not just the usual government flack disseminating information but also a hidden and elaborate fake news factory, complete with its own fake journalists, all of it paid for by taxpayers.' And you go on to name the journalists."
Rich: "Well, we know, for instance, that Armstrong Williams, a talk show host and a commentator on a lot of cable networks, and a newspaper columnist, through the Department of Education and a PR firm, received over $200,000 to comment upon the administration's education program."