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March 05, 2006

THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE:

In a recent press briefing General George Casey (the commander of Multinational Forces in Iraq) countered virtually every inflated claim made by the media regarding Iraq's recent "civil war" in the wake of the Shrine bombing in Samarra. But there are significant disconnects between what Gen Casey said and how his words are reported. . . .

The media is free to dispute the General's claims - that's expected of them. But in this case they aren't, they are simply using his words selectively in a manner that supports their own previously published fictions. There's no law that says U.S. media outlets are required to report accurately or completely on comments made by military or government officials. Likewise there are no requirements for media outlets to acknowledge that they are printing unverified claims made by "other parties" in the war as confirmed "news" - as was the case in the aftermath of the Shrine bombing (See here and here). But consumers of those reports should be aware of their flaws.

The press had better hope we win this war, because if we don't, a lot of people will blame the media.

UPDATE: Ralph Peters: Dude, Where's My Civil War?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Lest we recapitulate a discussion that's happened already, read this post, in which I expanded on the above at considerably more length. Also this post, this post, and this rather disturbing post.

MORE: Pierce Wetter looks at the Brookings Institution data on Iraq and observes some interesting things:

In February, US soldiers killed in action or wounded has gone down for the 4th straight month in a row

Number of Iraqi Policemen killed dropped in February:

As did the number of civilians killed.

See the entire post, which has many interesting graphs. It's certainly something that's not appearing in the news much.

MORE: Matt Sherman writes on civil-warmongering.

Brian Dunn has related thoughts. And Power Line is looking at sources.

MORE STILL: Don Surber (an actual member of the press!) writes:

Anyone remember the white phosphorus equals chemical warfare crap? How about Giuliana Sgrena's claim that the U.S. deliberately opened fire on her after she was released by her "kidnappers"? Time after time, the press has gone ahead with major reports that have not been properly vetted. The latest is this complete withdrawal in 2007 story. Reuters didn't even bother asking anyone at teh Pentagon or MOD about it.

That is not journalism. That is propaganda. That is deliberately misinforming people. Two sides to the story, people, two sides. Pentagon came out later and said it is untrue. As usual. Just like the pullout by June 2004 (for the U.S. election) story.

Yes, I've gotten some email of the "you only want happy news" variety, which proves that those people didn't read the posts I indicated above. I just want the press to avoid false information that damages the war effort. Is that asking too much?

Apparently. Others write that if we lose the war it won't be the press's fault, but the fault of Chimpy McHitlerburton. Well, maybe. But even so, that won't change the fact that a press that looks in many ways as if it's rooting for defeat won't make an appealing scapegoat for a lot of people. Given the press's concern for how it's perceived in various communities, you'd think it would care enough to avoid being perceived as unpatriotic by the patriotic-American community. Yet the exquisite sensitivity that we see in other settings is not so apparent here.