Monday, December 12, 2005

YOUR media at work.

Just stopping in for a strafing-run, folks, so don't panic...

But I came across this article about Iraqi public opinion this morning and just had to vent. Check out this article found on Yahoo news, courtesy of Will Lester of the Associated Press.

The headline reads "Poll: Most Iraqis Oppose Troops' Presence." First of all, that is not a shocker. We knew that, didn't we? After all, what people anywhere want to be occupied or have foreign troops on their soil? So why exactly is that the lede on a poll of Iraqi public opinion?

But scroll down. No, keep going. Further. Just a little more. Nope, one more paragraph. Make sure you're at paragraph eight.

A fourth of those surveyed, 26 percent, say U.S. forces should leave now, and another 19 percent say troops should leave after those chosen in this week's election take office. The other half say U.S. troops should stay until security is restored, 31 percent, until Iraqi forces can operate independently, 16 percent, or longer, 5 percent.

What? You mean a full 50% say they don't want American troops to leave until the country is stabilized? On a scale of 1-10, how much more interesting or insightful is THAT piece of data than the fact that Iraqis wish American troops weren't in their country? Or phrased a different way, that American troops weren't necessary? An 8, maybe? So why is it buried at the bottom of the story? Why is a non-earth shattering poll result the lede while a fairly important one is buried? Why is The Duhhh Award of the Week result the headline while several more important metrics are reported but basically glossed over?

Although the number of Iraqis supporting continued US presence until the security situation is resolved is down somewhat since late 2003 (also an interesting, but unreported fact that would have been worthy of analysis), the number of Iraqis that prefer a continued American presence to a Murtha-Dean-Kerry White-Flagged withdrawal has remained fairly steady. In fact, I've found it remarkable that it has been both so steady and typically unreported by our media over time. It's not just Mr. Lester. Our media habitually reports no-brainer poll results that say Iraqis want American troops out. They also habitually fail to mention that the Iraqi people don't mean today. Why do we never see a headline like this:

Poll: Iraqis support troop withdrawal after security restored

Or how about:

Poll: Iraqis want us out. Just not today, tomorrow, next week or anytime soon. John Murtha and Howard Dean are you listening?

Wouldn't that be a responsible way to report the poll results? Wouldn't that be accurate? MORE accurate?

But by the same token, wouldn't it be just as accurate to use headlines like these for the same article (Actual reported verbiage from article in parentheses)?

Poll: 75% of Iraqis confident about upcoming elections (Three-quarters say they are confident about the parliamentary elections scheduled for this week.)

Poll: 66% of Iraqis optimistic about immediate future (More than two-thirds expect things in their country to get better in the coming months.)

Poll: Iraqis say security is improving (Six in 10 say local security is good, up from half in February 2004.)

Poll: Iraqis confident in police and military (Two-thirds express confidence in the Iraqi army and in police.)

In fact, wouldn't any of these headlines have been more responsible, more informative and more germane to the national debate we are having about progress metrics and timelines for withdrawal than the mindless Poll: Most Iraqis Oppose Troops' Presence? Wouldn't any of my proposed headlines have encouraged a larger readership of the article? I tend to skip over the Sun Will Rise in the East, Set in the West hedlines I come across. Don't you? I'm more likely to read something which challenges assumptions or has particular relevance to policy debates. And yet, Lester, the AP and most of our news outlets choose not to work that way.


When you see an article like this broken down and analyzed as I have done, don't you find yourself wondering whether other articles about Iraq do precisely the same thing even though they are not so readily deconstructed? Don't you wonder whether reporters make the effort to suss out the other side of the story, much less report it? When I come across such unbalanced and shameful reporting, I find myself thinking we should be even more committed to our efforts on the ground in Iraq. A withdrawal now seems to me to be a capitulation to biased media reports and those who are leveraging the rough-going in Iraq out of political expediency.

No comments:

  • Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels
  • Evangelical Outpost
  • One Hand Clapping
  • Camp Katrina
  • TPMCafe
  • Dodger Thoughts
  • Boy of Summer
  • Irish Pennants
  • tabletalk
  • Fire McCain
  • My Sandmen
  • Galley Slaves
  • Michelle Malkin
  • myelectionanalysis
  • Iraq the Model
  • Mystery Pollster
  • A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage
  • Right Truth
  • The Fourth Rail
  • Counterterrorism Blog
  • Just One Minute
  • Broken Masterpieces
  • Kudlow's Money Politic$
  • Econopundit
  • Tapscott's Copy Desk
  • The Blue State Conservatives
  • Palousitics
  • Christian Conservative
  • Outside the Beltway
  • The Belmont Club
  • Froggy Ruminations
  • The Captain's Journal
  • Argghh!!!
  • Chickenhawk Express
  • Confederate Yankee
  • Reasoned Audacity
  • Taking Notes
  • ThisDamnBlog
  • Three Knockdown Rule
  • Dogwood Pundit
  • Dumb Looks Still Free
  • Unfettered Blather
  • Cut to the Chase
  • Alabama Improper
  • Austin Bay Blog
  • Michael Yon-Online
  • The Trump Blog
  • A Lettor of Apology
  • GM Fastlane Blog

  • Powered by Blogger

    Listed on BlogShares Who Links Here