A tale of two media reports on Iraq: one lazy, one not

As General David Petraeus prepares to announce — consistent with the Bush company line — that The Great Surge is going just swimmingly, two diametrically opposed media storylines are appearing: one grows out of the type of lazy “reporting” that consists of little more than taking dictation from US political and military leaders; the second, of course, comes from reporters who actually do the hard and expensive work of independently checking out the government’s claims. 

Not surprisingly, the first approach tends to produce a much rosier picture of progress in Iraq than the second.

(Laziness, incidentally, doesn’t necessarily refer to the motivations of a particular journalist.  Often it’s a matter of resources, as corporate bean counters continuously squeeze media outlets for cost savings.)

Well, as it happens, the Gods of Blogging have been kind to me today, providing excellent, and more or less contemporaneous, examples of each approach.

To begin with the dictation takers, the Associated Press chimes in with this happy talk:

U.S. troop buildup felt in Iraq hotspots

From this base in insurgent country south of Baghdad, there are no doubts that the U.S. decision to pour 30,000 additional troops into the fight has had an effect.

Before the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade arrived in mid-June, the area around Patrol Base Murray was known as the Triangle of Death — a safe haven for al-Qaida in Iraq to ambush Shiites, launch mortar and rocket attacks into the Green Zone and rig car bombs, suicide vests and other weapons for use in the capital.

Today, commanders point to the sharp drop in Baghdad attacks — down in August to a quarter of what they had been, according to the top commander Gen. David Petraeus — as evidence of their effectiveness.

But just as we’re getting ready to celebrate The Great Surge’s phenomenal success, the LA Times checks in with a very different appraisal:

Troop buildup fails to reconcile Iraq

The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has increased, not decreased, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration and Iraq’s Ministry for Displacement and Migration.

Military officials say sectarian killings in Baghdad are down more than 51% and attacks on civilians and security forces across Iraq have decreased. But this has not translated into a substantial drop in civilian deaths as insurgents take their lethal trade to more remote regions. Last month, as many as 400 people were killed in a bombing in a village near the Syrian border, the worst bombing since the war began in March 2003. In July, 150 people were reported killed in a village about 100 miles north of Baghdad.

And in a sign that tamping down Sunni-Shiite violence is no guarantee of stability, a feud between rival Shiite Muslim militias has killed scores of Iraqis in recent months. Last week, at least 52 people died in militia clashes in the Shiite holy city of Karbala.

At best, analysts, military officers and ordinary Iraqis portray the country as in a holding pattern, dependent on U.S. troops to keep the lid on violence.

What’s tragic about this, of course, is that the dictation takers greatly outnumber the true reporters.  And that being true, the end result, when you have an administration dedicated to selling fairytales, is that most of the time they get away with their fabrications, maybe not forever, but long enough to get what they want.

And that’s a bloody shame.

2 Responses to “A tale of two media reports on Iraq: one lazy, one not”

  1. realista Says:

    You can be your bottom dollar you won’t see this in any AP story:

    This was obviously apparent to Bush, who arrived in Australia in a chipper mood. “We’re kicking ass,” he told Mark Vaile on the tarmac after the Deputy Prime Minister inquired politely of the President’s stopover in Iraq en route to Sydney.


  2. CCone Says:

    We do definitely have two levels of reporting. Fox will tell you were are winning. CNN’s Michael Ware, especially with a couple of drinks in him, is probably the most honest. I am sure it is a difficult job telling the truth, thus the need for alcohol.

    We may be making headway in areas where we outgun the militants, but we can’t be everywhere all the time unless we send another 100,000 or so which isn’t acceptable. The Arabs have been infighting for one thousand years. Lawrence almost had an alliance, but the English pulled him out, and they started fighting again and ever since. Saddam was controlling the situation, but we took the stopgap away. We need to let them work it out, and stop sacrificing our children to Baal. Bush came from the secret societies, and he looks at our children as chattel and puts them on his altar for sacrifice.

    Actually, the comment above, CNN is talking tonight about Mr. Bush’s comment about “Kicking Ass”. What a jerk Bush is. Like when he asked Senator Webb “How is your son?” who is stationed in Iraq. Bush has no soul. I said he got his Cs at Harvard. Same thing, but it was Yale. Sorry for the misstatement in a prior comment. An email to Cafferty at CNN today said that Bush was a mixture of West Texas Bravado and Ivy League Frat Boy. He is just a loose cannon and an idiot. His spoon is probably still stuck up his nose, and they school him in lines for the American people. Let him off his lease and “Foot n Mouth” disease.

    Cafferty does a pretty good job at telling it like it is, but he should have the time Wolf Blitzer takes up because he is a hack.

    Bottom line: No one wins in Iraq. Not us, certainly not the civilians. There has been a mass exodus from Iraq. We should help the people evacuate that want to, pack up and get the hell out of Dodge (Baghdad).

    Al Qaida will be so tied up fighting Iraqis, they won’t have the ability to follow. The Iraqis will be fighting the Iraqis, and Syrian and Iran will be trying to contain the civil war that started one thousand years ago.

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