WELCOME to the debut of “The Truth Is!”, a blog of reporting and commentary that aims to be informative, thoughtful and provocative. At least initially, the blog will have a strong heartland flavor by virtue of the connection of a number of us to Cowles family journalism. I am former editor of the Des Moines Register’s opinion pages. Another contributor, Michael Gartner, is former editor of the paper; he later served as president of NBC News. Another former Register editor who has agreed to contribute, Geneva Overholser, is director of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg school of journalism. Followers of the blog will have access also to the work of Herbert Strentz of Des Moines, a close Register and other newspaper watcher who once headed Drake University’s journalism school. Bill Leonard, a longtime Register editorial writer, will add insights.

“The Truth Is!” will be supervised by my daughter, Marcia Wolff, a communications lawyer for 20 years with Arnold and Porter (Washington, D.C.). Invaluable technical assistance in assembling and maintaining the blog is provided by my grandsons Julian Cranberg, a college first-year, and Daniel Wolff, a high school senior.

If you detect a whiff of nepotism in this operation, so be it. All of it is strictly a labor of love. —Gil Cranberg

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Is Glenn Beck a journalist? That can be debated endlessly. But if he is, he belongs in a select class of journalists who admit to having been wrong about supporting the war in Iraq.

The war was overwhelmingly popular with the press. But almost none has done as Beck did recently and declare forthrightly that liberals were right to oppose the war and conservatives mistaken for their support of it.

Press backing for the U.S. invasion of Iraq was nearly unanimous. It could almost be said that press support for the war was instrumental in taking the country into war. But the press has had a collective case of amnesia about its responsibility for the war. Read the post-war commentary and it is virtually barren of references to the role of the press in cheerleading for war. As for apologizing for its failure to alert readers to the consequences of a costly and unnecessary war, some of the biggest names in journalism who backed the war have remained mute.

The unprovoked U.S. attack on Iraq was a ghastly mistake. Both parties bear responsibility. And to its everlasting shame, so does the press.

Gilbert Cranberg: PACIFIST JAPAN

One of the most significant achievements of World War II was the decision by Japan to renounce war as an instrument of national policy. Article 9 of the country’s constitution was a direct outgrowth of the war and its renunciation of war is unequivocal. The constitution promises that land, sea and air forces “will never be maintained” and that the “right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.”

Sounds as though Japan turned over a new leaf, except for the war-like noises now coming from the place. The country’s prime minister has made it his “life goal” to rid the constitution of Article 9. To make a rearmed Japan more palatable to the U.S., he talks about how readily it could come to the aid of this country in the event it is attacked.

The U.S. response should be thanks but no thanks. It should tell Japan it will refuse any military assistance provided in violation of the country’s commitment not to rearm. Article 9 of Japan’s constitution was an outstanding contribution to world peace. Under no circumstances should the U.S. acquiesce in the weakening of this historic achievement.