Can media influence public policy? This chapter offers a somewhat qualified ‘yes’ to that question based on the case of US war policy in Iraq. There are two qualifications: media influence on policymaking elites is reciprocal, the result of mutually constrained relationships between the two sides (with a supporting and also constrained role for public opinion); and the influence comes indirectly, through the media’s impact on elites’ incentives. We suggest that the media limited the influence of public opinion (Page and Bouton 2006; Sobel 2001) on US policy in Iraq by creating an ‘accountability gap’ whereby news coverage disconnects policy outcomes from each other, from the larger strategic picture – and from the officials responsible. In turn, limiting the effectiveness of public opinion (perceived, actual and anticipated – Entman 2004) reduces incentives for American officials to learn from and correct their errors by changing flawed policies. We advance these tentative thoughts based on the results of content analyses probing major US media outlets’ treatment of American casualties in Iraq and of President George W. Bush’s surge policy. Ironically, in a kind of vicious circle, such media influence on elites’ decision-making incentives arises in major part from journalists’ dependence on the selfsame elites’ public discourse rather than relying on their own judgments and knowledge of history – even history of a few weeks past. All that’s necessary for officials to evade accountability and keep the public functionally in the dark is a paucity (often, a complete absence) of powerful leaders energetically and consistently promoting a coherent view contrary to that of the American administration. When elites agree, or the White House’s opponents are largely silent or are adjudged powerless to alter the policy (Entman and Page 1994), the press goes along, before and throughout America’s military interventions. This point, the core of Bennett’s (1990) indexing model, has been supported by most research (Mermin 1999; Robinson 2002; Zaller and Chiu 1996; Entman 2004; Bennett et al. 2007; Althaus et al. 1996) but the larger project from which this chapter is drawn offers a comprehensive theoretical explanation of the operation and policy implications of elite-media codependence, the attendant decoupling of policy from manifestations of public opinion, and the resulting disincentives for elites and journalists to avoid repeating the mistakes of their histories.