September 23, 2002

ORRIN JUDD wonders why a Reuters story on Tony Blair’s slide in the polls links it to Iraq and fails to mention the 400,000-person demonstration on a rather different topic just yesterday. Well, he doesn’t really wonder. He’s just amazed:

Perhaps it’s helpful, for comparison sake, to recall that the great March on Washington in August 1963, led by Martin Luther King Jr., and generally considered one of the most significant public demonstrations in American history, summoned “only” about 250,000 people. But would a news organization that reported on a presidential approval poll conducted over that weekend fail to even consider the effect of the protests on the resulting number? Not damn likely.

How is it possible that an anti-government protest, however inchoate its aims, that may have been twice that size, in a country that’s significantly smaller, can have had no effect on the Labor Party’s poll numbers? Reuters has truly become a disgrace over the course of the past year and this looks like a blatant attempt to blame any bit of bad news (it’s bad if you’re a Laborite anyway) on the war on terrorism (or as Reuters might call it, freedom-fighterism). It is, of course, possible that the negative numbers for Labor reflect war fears, but if so, where are the matching 400,000 folks protesting the government’s Iraq policy?

Where, indeed?

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