When the Iraq War began in March 2003, members of Congress from both parties strongly supported the war effort. The House and Senate passed multiple resolutions recognizing and commended the participating soldiers and their sacrifices. Journalists had to decide how to cover the politicians' widespread statements of support. Some reporters crafted headlines such “American Power Inspires Dreams of Liberation” (Schmitt 2003). Other journalists attempted to balance their coverage by giving attention to arguments criticizing the war effort (Walsh 2003).
As the conflict in Iraq continued and the 2004 elections approached, the voices of opposition inside and outside Congress grew as loud and frequent as the supporters of the military effort. Led by their presidential nominee John Kerry, many Democrats vigorously promoted issues and arguments attacking the Republican execution of the war (Mason 2004). In Congress, the Democratic minority initiated floor debates to restrict funding and change war policy, albeit unsuccessfully (Broder 2005, Skorneck 2003). Journalists now had to decide how to cover the growing criticism. Their news accounts gave more attention to the Democrats' critical messages, but President Bush nonetheless won reelection and continued the Republicans' military strategy (Milbank and Deane 2005).
Over the next two years, however, that military strategy encountered growing obstacles in Iraq, and critics of the war effort began to outnumber supporters substantially (Kirkpatrick and Nagourney 2006). Journalists again faced the challenge of deciding how to cover events in Iraq and politicians' statements about those events.