Friday, August 3, 2007

The mainstream media often lie about the war

I wish it weren't so, but even a schmuck wearing a bathrobe in front of a computer in an apartment on the east side of Rockford, Illinois, can, without much effort, punch holes in the mainstream media's rosy assessments of the war in Iraq in midsummer 2007.

Consider these factors:

On Monday of this week, under a headline reading "U.S. Observers Note Progress In Iraq Surge," David Martin, the national security correspondent for CBS News, reported on the network's Web site that "American casualties in July are the lowest since the troop surge began in February" and that "civilian casualties are down by a third."

Here's the truth of the matter: There were 81 American deaths in Iraq in July, a figure no lower than in February or March of this year, which was before the surge began in earnest, according to the Pentagon. The figure also is more than 17 percent higher than the monthly average of American deaths since the start of the war in March, 2003. If your fatalities are running far above the average for the pre-surge period, how can you say the surge is successful in that respect?

As for the civilian death toll, David Martin was way off the mark. The toll was up by one-third, not down. Some progress!

And then there's the laughable matter of Kenneth Pollock and Michael O'Hanlon, a pair of scholars from the Brookings Institution, appearing in media all over the place to tell of their favorable impressions of the war effort gained during a brief visit to Iraq. They had an op-ed column in The New York Times and were interviewed on all the major networks.

Incredibly, Pollock and O'Hanlon, who have been cheerleaders for the war since before it started and big supporters of the surge, were almost invariably identified in the past week as erstwhile "harsh" critics of the Bush administration's Iraq policy. Critics? Time and time again over the past four years, these guys have seen military victory just around the corner and have counseled patience on the part of the American people.

Moreover, this latest visit to Iraq by Pollock and O'Hanlon was, as Pollock was forced to admit, "largely organized by the military," which raises the question of whether the brass outfitted these eminent scholars with rose-colored glasses.

For more on Kenneth and Michael's excellent adventure, check here and here and here.

Meanwhile, don't buy that nonsense that the mainstream media are undermining the president's war policy. In fact, the media often pimp for that policy with lazy and inaccurate reporting.

UPDATE: It seems that the Pentagon's top dude suddenly seems less optimistic about the surge than are Pollock and O'Hanlon. This is from the Los Angeles Times:

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates acknowledged Thursday that the Bush administration underestimated the difficulty of getting a political truce in Iraq, where Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s government has been crippled by a walkout by Sunni Arab ministers.

The Pentagon chief’s remarks Thursday were his closest yet to acknowledging that the Bush administration’s top political goals for Iraq may not materialize during the buildup, even if it is extended into next spring, the latest the military could sustain the increase. He also is the top Bush administration official to express such concerns publicly.

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