Skip to comments.Morton Krondacke: Media Bias Surpresses "Good" Iraq News
Posted on 06/08/2004 6:59:49 AM PDT by KentTrappedInLiberalSeattle
At his first appearance as Iraq's new prime minister last Tuesday, Iyad Allawi switched from Arabic to English to say, "I would like to thank the coalition, led by the United States, for the sacrifices they have provided in the process of the liberation of Iraq."
A pretty remarkable statement, is it not, in a country where to listen to the U.S. media everybody hates us? Unfortunately, given the media coverage of the event, you'd never know Allawi said it.
Neither The Washington Post's front-page story on the appointment of Iraq's new government, nor The New York Times' story the same day, made any mention of Allawi's thank you to America. Nor did The Wall Street Journal's story or the Los Angeles Times'.
Of course, Fox News a network for whom I punditize ran tape of Allawi making the statement. So did ABC's "Nightline." No other network did, although CNN did mention it and CBS carried a clip of President Bush calling attention to Allawi's remarks.
There are two lessons to be drawn from this coverage. First, conservatives are right to charge that the U.S. media tilts left and is biased against Bush's Iraq policy.
And second, the Bush administration must do a better job of getting Iraqis who support U.S. policy who, in fact, are risking their lives to support U.S. policy to get on American television and state their case.
Allawi added that "after 35 years of a ruthless, tyrannical regime, and after the liberation of Iraq by the coalition forces under the leadership of the United States, we are starting our march toward sovereignty and democracy."
That statement was carried on Al-Jazeera the often-rabidly anti-U.S. Arabic news network but not in the American media.
To be fair, The Washington Post did quote Allawi saying "we need the support of the multinational forces to defeat the enemies of Iraq." It did so in the 11th paragraph of its story on the appointment of the interim government.
USA Today carried the statement as well, in the fourth paragraph of its story. It was in the 10th paragraph of The New York Times story, and in the 26th paragraph of the L.A. Times story.
You think I am being too harsh in judging media coverage? Just look at the front-page attention given to practically every wrinkle of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal story and the total absence of outrage at the statement Thursday by Bush-hater George Soros that Abu Ghraib "hit us the same way as the (Sept. 11, 2001) attack itself."
At the liberal "Take Back America" conference in Washington, Soros also said that the war on terrorism "has claimed more innocent victims than the original attack itself."
Even though Soros is a major player in the 2004 presidential campaign, funding anti-Bush activities with tens of millions of dollars, his remarks got practically no media attention except on Fox News and no one pointed out that World War II also claimed more innocent victims than the number who died at Pearl Harbor.
Major media coverage of the Iraq war is typified by The Washington Post's repeated, almost formulaic front-page articles that open with quotes from an Iraqi dissatisfied by a lack of electricity or security and then launch into the reporter's negative evaluation of the entire U.S. occupation.
One of the latest, by Edward Cody, ran last Thursday under the headline "To Many, Mission Not Accomplished." It carried the subhead "Residents Say Occupation's Unkept Promises, Military Tactics Fuel Resistance."
On May 19, as just one other example, the Post carried a front-page story by Robin Wright and Thomas Ricks, headlined "U.S. Faces Growing Fears of Failure" among largely unnamed U.S. lawmakers, Iraqis and administration officials.
Last Friday, on the other hand, after Iraq's new government gained the blessing of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, arguably the most influential person in Iraq, the Post carried the story on page A18.
The New York Times buried it on page A15, in a box just above the news of the statement by Iraq's new foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, that "any premature departure of international forces would lead to chaos and the real possibility of a civil war."
If the U.S. media are going to consistently underplay Iraqi testimonials of thanks and of the need for U.S. forces to stay, then the Bush administration has to do a better job of getting their statements publicized.
The White House can urge the Iraqis to appear on Sunday talk shows Allawi has been asked to do so, but has refused until he addresses the Iraqi people. Or President Bush can hold joint news conferences with them.
Two weeks ago, the Pew Research Center published the latest study demonstrating that many more national news reporters identify themselves as "liberal" (34 percent) than "conservative" (7 percent).
While most (54 percent) consider themselves "moderate," even the "moderates" demonstrated that they had liberal attitudes on religion, gay rights and activist government.
It's unfortunate that Pew did not ask journalists how they feel about Iraq. I'd bet such a poll would demonstrate that the defeatism conveyed in media coverage on Iraq grows directly out of reporters' political attitudes. (The poll did find that 55 percent of national reporters believe the media are "not critical enough" of Bush.)
America's hope for victory in Iraq depends on Bush's getting the good news on Iraq directly to Americans. The media won't help.
Mods: can this be fixed, please...?
In keeping with the theme of this article, this morning's Seattle Times featured a front-page story sympathetically presenting the resentments of Sadr's Baghdad militia (misunderstood poor boys who've been abused and neglected by the evil Americans).
Thanks for the post, Kent!
A myth had developed that Iraqis aren't grateful for their liberation from Saddam. So it's worth notice that the leaders of Iraq's new interim have been explicit and gracious in their thanks, not that you've heard this from the U.S. media.
First in Arabic and then in English, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said in his inaugural address to the Iraqi people last Tuesday that "I would like to record our profound gratitude and appreciation to the U.S.-led coalition, which has made great sacrifices for the liberation of Iraq." In his own remarks, President Ghazi al-Yawer said: "Before I end my speech, I would like us to remember our martyrs who fell in defense of freedom and honor, as well as our friends who fell in the battle for the liberation of Iraq."
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the U.N. Security Council much the same thing last Thursday: "We Iraqis are grateful to the coalition who helped liberate us from the persecution of Saddam Hussein's regine. We thank President Bush and Prime Minister Blair for their dedication and commitment."
We thought our readers might like to know.
Anyone catch the mainstream media coverage? < /sarcasm >
I like Mort. As a Democrat and liberal commentator, his level-headed and thoughtful commentary provides an excellent contrast to the shrill partisanship and irresponsible rhetoric of the rest of his party and media elites - exposing it for what it is.
Now, now - sure you think it is important information for American readers and viewers to know that the Iraqui provisional government is grateful for the American aid and sacrifice but the New York Times prints only the news fit to print...why, even today the Times had a full page article on, with pictures of, some naked Iraqui prisoners -I do not know whether the rest of you know this but apparently George Bush ordered the wholesale humiliation of some Iraqui prioners - he couldn't be there personally, Crawford ya know, so he had some others do it - gosh, a real travesty - certainly outweighs the importance of some political appointees saying thanks to them what appointed them...c'mon, readers, the NYT is the source, ya just gotta believe.
Pray for W and Our Awesome Troops
He is liberal, but I always considered him to be reasonable, too. Kondracke exemplifies what I consider to be a "patriotic liberal". He puts the country and its values above politics. When he disagrees with my viewpoint, I am as a result more likely to listen to him and give his ideas consideration.
When I see the Beltway Boys (Barnes/Kondracke) I often have trouble remembering which is the conservative and which is the liberal. This means that neither is a shameless spinmeister who will turn the world upside down to defend his party.
Good for you,Mort!This ought to put you in solid with your LIB buds!!!!!
It irritates me than even our friends blame the administration for the rabid bias and dedicated propaganda of the media. All say the administration should do a better job. If they are not going to report it, what good does it do to say it?
As the election nears, the economy will be booming, Iraq will be in good shape and the Pubbies will spend lots of money telling us about it. Plus, the Clintons will still be doing all they can to undermine Kerry.
The understatement of the year. The ultra liberal media not only won't help, but intentionally hides the good news from Iraq in small, inconspicuous articles on odd numbered pages.
While you do have a point that in a fair and just world the media would just report the whole story and objective truth rather than use the papers to spead propaganda, Mort and others accept and acknowledge the realities of the world we actually do live in. And Mort is right. Given the media for what it is, and given the fact that they will ignore whatever contradicts their agenda, and distort everything else to fit it, the Bush Administration DOES need to get out in front and force the debate in their direction, rather than retreating and allowing the media to endlessly spin against them without even a response.
As dirty as I feel saying this, Bush could learn a lot from the Democrats in the area of playing politics. If this were Clinton, he would have had the new Iraqi Prime Minister along with those Iraqi amputees standing next to him in a Rose Garden press conference.
Mort Kondrake demonstrates its possible to be a Democrat, a liberal, and actually engage in a political "conversation"...as opposed to what spews from the mouth's of the Begala's and Carville's of the world.
The only show I know I'm going to watch each day, when I'm home, is Hume's with the all stars.
Mort has grown up a lot since his days on McLaughlin Group. While he still seems to hold himself out as a Democrat, he is talking more like a Republican with each passing day.
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