September 24, 2005

Reportage And The Iraq War ~ A View From The Home Front!


I have always admired Chris Muir, from his first cartoon to the most recent days of Day By Day. Chris is able to state clearly what most of America really thinks in regards to all the liberal shibboleths as reported in the so called Main Stream Media (MSM). There is a major difference between reporting the war from what really is going on, and reporting the war with a hidden political agenda as the cartoon above accurately points out. There is a major difference between what is going on in Iraq and what the MSM is telling you is going on in Iraq. The MSM won't tell you that, I just did! (Uh, Mr. Mondale, that is how you are supposed to say it...)

And significant differences there are! Not just in the quality of the reporting, but in the focus. One tries to portray a quagmire, the other a quality of life missing in Iraq for decades, if not tens of decades and the difference is telling. From the MSM:

BAGHDAD — Heavy fighting surged Friday in the Euphrates River city of Ramadi, police and hospital officials said, and the U.S. military reported the deaths of two more soldiers around the militant stronghold west of Baghdad.

In the Iraqi capital, a suicide bomber on a public minibus set off an explosives belt as the vehicle approached a busy terminal, killing at least five people and wounding eight, police said.

Also in Baghdad, gunmen killed a member of the commission that keeps former officials in Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime out of the Iraqi government, police said. Thirteen members of the commission have been killed since it was created two years ago.

Seven of the 29 U.S. troops killed this month have died in or near Ramadi. The latest deaths occurred Thursday, one in a roadside bombing between Ramadi and nearby Fallouja, the other in a gun battle in Ramadi. Those slayings raised to at least 1,912 the number of U.S. service members who have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003.

So, in the first four paragraphs (from what I've been told, that is where most readers stop unless it is really gripping) what have we learned from this tidbit of reportage? We learned that 1) heavy fighting and two more deaths; 2) a suicide bomber killed five; 3) gunmen killed a commission member, one of 13 killed in the last two years; 4) Seven of the nine US servicemen killed this month have died in or near Ramadi and that 1912 service members have been killed since 2003 Killed, killed, killed, killed. What, no mention of Quagmire? No comparison to Vietnam? Methinks the LATimes is falling down on their job, the MSM may revoke their liberal status.

Of course, it is absolutely not fair to pick on the LATimes (though Oh That Liberal Media! does it very well) So, let us take a quick gander at the NYTimes (no, not their expensive, overpriced, excessively liberal and hackneyed Op-Ed page) again, the first four paragraphs:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The leader of Iraq's largest Shiite political organization joined the country's most revered and powerful Shiite cleric Saturday in a strong public push for voter support of a new constitution, three weeks ahead of a national referendum.

Also, suicide car bombers killed five Iraqis in and near the capital, and the U.S. military said a soldier died in a roadside bombing Friday night in southeast Baghdad. The death raised to 1,913 the number of U.S. service members who have died in Iraq since the war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

In Basra, the country's southern oil hub and headquarters for Britain's 8,500-strong force, an Iraqi judge said he renewed homicide arrest warrants for two undercover British soldiers who allegedly killed an Iraqi policeman trying to detain them.

The Britons were rescued from jail early this week by British troops using armor to crash through the prison walls. In a sign of continuing tensions and Iraqi fury over the British operation, Katyusha rockets were fired at U.S. and British facilities in the city Saturday, causing no casualties.

OK, we learned 1) Shiite Cleric and politico join forces to support a vote for the constitution. You have to get to the 11th paragraph before the reporter mentions the minority Sunni could bloc the constitution by voting en masse against it; 2) 5 Iraqis killed and an American Serviceman killed bring the total to 1913 (note the higher count than given by the LATimes - only by one, but hey, who's counting?); 3) Arrest warrants issued for Brit soldiers who are; 4) broken out of jail by other brits. The fourth paragraph is particularly interesting, maybe we should look at it again:
The Britons were rescued from jail early this week by British troops using armor to crash through the prison walls. In a sign of continuing tensions and Iraqi fury over the British operation, Katyusha rockets were fired at U.S. and British facilities in the city Saturday, causing no casualties.
OK, Brits broke two Britons out of jail, the Iraqis are pissed at them so they fire rockets at the Brits and the Americans. Hey, what did we have to do with them being angry at the Brits? Oh, yeah, I forgot, Tony Blair is Dubya's Poodle - gee, I hate it when I forget those things. So, politicking, killed, arrest warrants, rockets. Still not convinced?

OK, two for two... lets take a look at the number three leading liberal paper in the country, the Washington Post:

BAGHDAD, Sept. 23 -- A suicide bomber driving a minivan with passengers aboard blew himself up near a bus depot in the center of the capital on Friday, killing seven people and wounding 20, police said.

The charred wreckage of the van smoldered in the hot sun while Iraqi police hurried onlookers away from the scene of the blast in Tayaran Square. The square, a major local bus terminal, was crowded with people enjoying the Friday holiday. Blood pooled in the streets around the station, a simple, open-air transit point surrounded by a brick wall.

As insurgents have stepped up attacks on crowds of civilians in public places in recent months, bus stations and markets have been frequent targets. A series of car bombings at the main bus station and a nearby hospital in Baghdad in August killed more than 40 people.

Three American soldiers also died Friday, the U.S. military said in statements. Two were killed by roadside bombs, one near Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, and the other in southeastern Baghdad, the statements said. The third soldier was killed by small-arms fire in Ramadi, 60 miles west of the capital.

Once again into the breech dear readers. We learned from this tid bit of information that 1) a suicide bomber killed 7 and wounded 20; 2) a charred van smoldered while there was blood on the streets; 3) insurgents have stepped up attacks on civilians, killing over 40 in August (gee, had to reach back to last month for a high enough figure?) and 4) three more American Soldiers were killed. So, for the WaPo we have killed, burning & blood, killed and killed.

Gentle reader, if you are not convinced by now, you are either willfully ignorant or blind or can't see beyond your own prejudices. But, don't take my word for it. Lets take a look at different reporting, say by Chris Muir's friend, Michael Yon. Michael Yon has been reporting dispatches from the front lines where he has been embedded with our troops and he is doing this on his own, at his own expense. From Michael's And Now, The Rest Of The Story:

The formula followed by foreign (non-Iraqi) journalists here is different than that used by the local papers back home. Western media cannot free-range Iraq, asking questions and jotting answers on notepads, particularly where insurgents cut off the heads of anyone they do not agree with, later posting "news" videos of their own. Here in Iraq, where bullets are often the background noise, most news agencies get their daily facts spoon-fed straight from the military. The basic building block for just about any news item reported in mainstream press is something called a SIGACT.[READ THE REST]
A quick read of this and you will find out that there is a whole lot you haven't found out if you rely on the MSM (And here, I've used three newspapers as my foil, but you get the same info from the broadcast networks as well.) I'm not going to give a four paragraph review of Michael's latest, for Michael's dispatches from the front have been blogged on here, here, here and here by yours truly. You can also judge for yourself by reading any of his dispatches located here

Many of my leftish friends (and yes, this rightie does have lefty friends) say that the MSM can't possibly be liberal or biased to the left because they are owned by corporations. As if corporations staff the newsrooms, editorial desks, or go to journalism school. The fact of the matter is is that a corporation is interested in the bottom line, and they don't really care how they get a better bottom line. Those staffing the MSM do indeed have a leftish bias. Denying that means that you are only fooling yourself because the rest of us can see what the bias is, clear as day.

As Michael noted, the job of the MSM is not to report news, but to sell advertisements. To do that, they must have readers that the advertisement reaches and blood sells. But, you'd think that a little ballance would be appropriate wouldn't you? Report on the bombing by terrorists (they are NOT insurgents! ...ed.) by all means, but also report on the increasing hope the people of Iraq have in their own government and constitution. Report on the strife, but also report on the schools being built and staffed, on the increase in a free press and the absense of a secret police.

If the goal is to sell advertising, a larger audience just might make a difference to the purchaser of the advertising.

Update: Welcome Instapundit Readers. Please leave a comment whether you agree or disagree.

Info Theory

Posted by GM Roper at September 24, 2005 01:14 PM | TrackBack

This is excellent analysis. The problem is that it takes careful reading of careful writing like this to comprehend the extent of the problem. Most of the general public won't make that effort. Blogs are great, but I wish the White House and larger media outlets could expose the bias on a larger scale. My pessisim aside, thanks for posting this.


Posted by The Hedgehog at September 24, 2005 07:14 PM

I meant, pessimism.

Posted by The Hedgehog at September 24, 2005 07:14 PM

If the goal is to sell advertising, a larger audience just might make a difference to the purchaser of the advertising.--GMR


Is this what has become of centuries of Western' culture?
Where the difference between 'victory' and 'defeat', between the 'dark and the 'light' is merely a matter of commercial interests. Where 'right' and 'wrong' is a matter of temporary dollars and cents(and not sense)?

The media must see a 'commerial' interest in not being a propaganda outlet for the obvious enemies of the State in which they exist ?

If this is true, the end can only be delayed: it cannot be avoided, and frankly the real question is whether a society which has generated such an information media merits survival at the most fundamental level.

Not an un-serious question, GM. I wish I had more optimism at the probable answers.

Posted by dougf at September 24, 2005 07:35 PM

When I read Iraq War coverage in either the Seattle Times or the Seattle Post Intelligencer here in the People's Republic of Puget Sound, I am left feeling that it is all hopeless and it is a quagmire.

Thank God for the Internet and all the wonderful mulitary blogs as well as the Iraqi blogs. After consulting those sources, my optimism is renewed.

We are winning the war militarily, but we are in danger of losing the war for people's hearts and minds because of the constantly slanted MSM reporting.

Thanks for this analysis, I'm sending this type of info to all my e-mail buddies.

Posted by Jim at September 24, 2005 09:29 PM

Your article inaccurately states the two britons were released from prison during a jailbreak. They were not in the jail at the time, they were handed over to militia forces. They were freed when local Shiite militia forces decided to let them go.

The story behind the jailbreak was that the Britons feared the SAS soldiers were handed over or were about to be handed over to local militia forces. The loyalties of the militias operating in Basra are questionable, many have ties to Iranian intelligence. The brittish did not want their special forces interogated by groups with ties to Iranian intelligence. Thats why the jail break occured

The proper procedure is for detained soldiers to be held by the local police forces until their release is negotiated by coalition forces.

Brittish soldiers operating under cover are instructed not to stop for police forces, as many terrorists have been known to disguise themselves as Iraqi police. This policy creates friction between the Iraqi police and the coalition forces, it also raises questions as to where Iraqi sovereignty begins and ends, but it cant be denied this policy has saved a number of lives.

More importantly this incident raises a number of difficult questions.

How can they Iraqi's feel soverign when ride roughshod over there police and courts? How can we respect their police and courts, when it is unknown where the police force ends and the local militias begin, especially when a number of warlords operating the militia's have ties to Iran? How much soverignty should we respect when Shi'ite Militias like the Badr Brigades and the Muqti Army are running around Basra beating women and students for breaches of their moral codes?

In the long run it may be better to break the peace in the South and show these militias that they will not install a theocracy, and that espionage on behalf of Iran will not be tolerated.

Posted by ME at September 24, 2005 09:34 PM

ME... thanks for the information that is good to know and it adds to my body of knowledge. But you should know that it wasn't "Your article" (meaning my article) inaccurately stating the information you refer to. It was the New York Times article...

Your comment here "In the long run it may be better to break the peace in the South and show these militias that they will not install a theocracy, and that espionage on behalf of Iran will not be tolerated. " Seems to be spot on.

Again, thanks for commenting

Posted by GM Roper at September 24, 2005 09:44 PM

The NYTimes Co. just fired 500 workers, including 45 in its own newsroom. I haven't noticed any change in the tone of its reporting.

It's amazing to me how the center of commerce of this country, the symbol of trade and big business, is so full of people who think it would be lovely to discard it and substitute socialism.

And they say people vote in their own interests.

Posted by AST at September 24, 2005 09:56 PM

Awesome post, GM.

Sorry, but I no option here but to hit it with a link.

Posted by Seth at September 25, 2005 01:59 AM

In the long run it may be better to break the peace in the South and show these militias that they will not install a theocracy, and that espionage on behalf of Iran will not be tolerated.

But what peace is there in the south of Iraq? None, no peace.

You have swallowed the Brit establishment's propaganda line that the British sector has been peaceful until recently, thanks to the British army's exemplary skill at peace keeping, especially when compared to those boorish Americans

Posted by David Davenport at September 25, 2005 07:39 AM

I had never noticed the 4 paragraph attention span before so I looked at a couple of stories in the morning paper. The bad news was heavily loaded to the top with a brief, passing note to any alternate view at the bottom. I'll have to force myself to keep reading I guess.

Posted by al at September 25, 2005 10:47 AM

The MSM is pushing for withdrawal back to our shores; back to Fortress America, I guess, without many forces. But this I firmly believe, if we abandon our military again and suffer another "defeat" because of those Americans who openly practice sedition that during the pre-Vietnam period would have not been tolerated, there will be more attacks on our country that will result in the breakdown of our fragile modern civilized society. If they manage to cause America to withdraw behind its borders, there will be one thing that I hope to live to see; the satisfaction in seeing that those who contributed to our suffering will be some of the first to be the victims of our enemy. It will be the survival of the fittest and it is evident that those Americans who actively pursue anti-American agendas have limited survival instincts.

Posted by al reasin at September 25, 2005 10:58 PM

Friday was the last day of publication for what used to be a major newspaper in Alabama. The Birmingham Post-Herald was once the vibrant morning paper, but it got switched to afternoon and then became known as "the liberal paper." Now, it's gone, like so many other papers have gone and like so many others that will be gone because they don't do a good job of accurately presenting the news and keeping up with changes in reporting--resulting in cancelled subscriptions. I was shocked when I learned that the subscription base of the Post-Herald had dropped below 7,000. That paper once meant a lot to me but now all I have is a copy of their last issue ever. I would rather have the last copies of the NYT, LA Times, & WaPo, and their days are coming.

Posted by Woody at September 26, 2005 02:47 PM

Great post GM...thanks for taking the time to piece this stuff altogether.

Posted by Raven at September 28, 2005 05:52 PM

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