It is also interesting to note that there has been a decrease in the overall reporting about Iraq from 15% of the total stories as recently as last July to a mere 3% in February 2008. And what do we get in that time period?
We heard Charles Gibson chastise the Democratic candidates in a nationally televised debate, telling them that “the surge is working”, neglecting the fact that there has been basically no progress on any benchmarks in any measurable manner. We hear how there has been a “general downturn in violence”, neglecting the fact that violence has pretty much decreased because of al Sadr ordering his militia to stop attacks and the fact that there has been major sectarian cleansing throughout the country.
And yet, if you look at the most basic things going on in Iraq, you will find that things are most certainly NOT good or improving for Iraqis. Or for the troops, outside of not getting killed as quickly as they were 6 months ago. But as for their mission, still nothing. The goals – still nothing. The metrics – nothing.
The “success” of the “surge”? nothing.
So, no wonder that with the absolutely abhorrent lack of coverage of what is happening in Iraq, only 28% of people knew that nearly 4,000 troops have been killed, almost half as many people as just last August that knew how many troops have been killed. In fact, the Project for Excellence in Journalism came out with a report that showed how much impact the media had on people’s perception of how things were going in Iraq. This should stand out:
And as the year went on, the narrative from Iraq in some ways brightened. The drumbeat of reports about daily attacks declined in late summer and fall, and with that came a decline in the amount of coverage from Iraq overall.
This shift in coverage beginning in June, in turn, coincided with a rising sense among the American public that military efforts in Iraq were going “very” or “fairly well.”
This was a study of around 1,100 news stories from over 40 different sources for 2007. Absolutely stunning in the irresponsibility of the so-called “fourth estate”. So it is no doubt that we see headlines from CBS News that say “Iraq fades from view for many Americans”, or that CQ Tracker crows that “Americans more positive about Iraq, but divided on pullout” – all while burying the fact that 63% want an immediate or phased withdrawal.
What is more ironic and frustrating is that just yesterday, Pew (the ones who conducted the poll) noted that there was a likely explanation of this increased optimism:
Pew suggested a possible link between the simultaneous increase in the numbers of Americans belieiving progress was being made in Iraq, with a sharp decline in news coverage of Iraq and public interest in Iraq news.
Gee, do you think that if there is a near complete blackout of the events going on in Iraq, and whatever news does get reported is “cheery” and optimistic instead of the truth and full story that people will either lose interest or think things are better than they really are? But if we look at the coverage in Politico, we really see what is happening here. Titled Support for war effort highest since 2006, it completes the Karl Rove self fulfilling prophesy that people don’t care as much about Iraq because it isn’t being reported.
But if you look right below the surface, we see where this is going – right toward the media’s massive man crush on John W. McCain:
The repercussions will be most acutely felt in the presidential contest. Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton remain committed to a staggered pullout, while Republican John McCain holds steadfast in his support for the Bush administration’s military surge.
Democrats’ resolute support for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces may soon position them at odds with independent voters, in particular, a constituency they need to retake the White House.
The uptick in public support is a promising sign for Republican candidates who have been bludgeoned over the Bush administration’s war policies. But no candidate stands to gain more than McCain.
“How could Democrats possibly hand McCain a better issue than to let him run on his record of advocating a robust U.S. presence in Iraq with all the positive battlefield news that is filtering out of that country?” asked Michael O’Hanlon, a national security adviser at the Brookings Institution who has been at the center of the Iraq debate since the war’s outset.
Just remember - we are not just fighting against McCain. We are fighting against a very strong narrative that is patently and blatantly false and biased.