Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Iraq and the media

I continue to be horrified by the media’s coverage (or, rather, non-coverage) of the news coming out of Iraq. It is shocking. Maybe all this can be attributed to to ignorance, rather than malice, as

John Keegan argues about the British media. Maybe. But look: There is a new Iraqi government, cleverly established by the Iraqis, and sanctioned by the UN and the US. But, let’s lead off with a car bombing, to show that everything can fall apart, and the center will not hold. Let’s ask everyone we interview whether or not the past contacts (and funding) for certain of the individuals (maybe all?) who are in the new Iraqi Cabinet by the US and the Brits will make these folks illegitimate in the eyes of the Iraqi street. Let’s have headlines like the one in the Washington Post, "Many Hurdles Ahead for U.S.," in which the writers (and this is a news story, not an op-ed) talk about the birth of the new Iraqi government and tells us that

"President Bush was almost giddily buoyant during a Rose Garden news conference about Iraq’s interim government." Amazing. And now, the story continues, we are enetering a much more complex phase on Iraq than the phase heretofore....And, by the way, the selection of this government was really "messy" the WaPo informs us. All this is quite over the top. John Leo is also not amused (and not surprised) by the liberal media.

This paragraph from yesterday by Andrew Sullivan nails it: "If someone had said in February 2003, that by June 2004, Saddam Hussein would have been removed from power and captured; that a diverse new government, including Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, would be installed; that elections would be scheduled for January 2005; and that the liberation of a devastated country of 25 million in which everyone owns an AK-47 had been accomplished with an army of around 140,000 with a total casualty rate (including accidents and friendly fire) of around 800; that no oil fields had been set aflame; no WMDs had been used; no mass refugee crises had emerged; and no civil war had broken out... well, I think you would come to the conclusion that the war had been an extraordinary success. And you’d be right. Yes, there are enormous challenges; and yes, so much more could have been achieved without incompetence, infighting and occasional inhumanity. But it’s worth acknowledging that, with a little perspective, our current gloom is over-blown. Stocks in Iraq have been way over-sold. I even regret some minor sells myself. Now watch the media do all it can to accentuate the negative."

Discussions - 2 Comments

One question: what would be the appropriate baseline for comparison of whether the media is engaging in "doom and gloom" over Iraq? Coverage of violent crimes? I wonder.

Right. It seems to me that this is just another manifestation of the complaint that’s been made about the news media for a long time--that they never report the good news. When it comes to news here at home, what gets the most play? Child molestation, murder, mayhem. It helps if the victims are white, middle-class folks, and if the perpetrators are celebrities. After all, this is what makes people watch, which, of course, boosts ratings, etc., etc.

I’ve no doubt that most people in the media are liberals, and that this frequently comes through in their reporting. However, the apparently one-sided coverage of Iraq is a reflection of something different--something that is essentially market-driven.

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