May 21, 2004

THIS POLL suggests that the media really are out of touch on Iraq. Note these questions:

20. On the situation in Iraq today, where do you think most of the problems are being created?

1. In Iraq 23%
2. In Washington, DC, or 18
3. In the news media 27
4. (Combination) 21
5. (All) 8
6. (None) –
7. (Not sure) 3

27. Which of the following news stories upset you more?

1. The abuse of Iraqi prisoners
by U.S. soldiers 8%
2. The beheading of an American
civilian by Muslim terrorists 60

3. (Both equal) 29
4. (Not sure) 3

28. Do you think the media spent an excessive amount of time covering either of the following news stories?

1. The Iraqi prisoner abuse story 34%
2. The beheading of American Nick Berg 9
3. (Both were covered excessively) 35
4. (Neither was covered excessively) 15
5. (Not sure) 7

Seems like my emails are more reflective of general sentiment than the front pages of major newspapers.

UPDATE: Donald Sensing notes a report that mothers of Marines have “had it up to here with news media coverage.” Here’s the Tennessean report by Tim Chavez that he links to. Excerpt:

These local moms get their perspective from the telephone and from pictures sent home or over the Internet. They’ve quit watching and reading the news. They say the coverage doesn’t provide the full story. . . .

While the rest of us have seen the picture of the Army reservist holding the Iraqi prisoner on a leash a thousand times, these mothers talk about all the pictures showing Marines holding children, laughing with children and even an old man kissing the hand of a Marine.

”My son calls at 3 or 4 in the morning, and he once told me, ‘I don’t care who you vote for, but vote for someone who is going to let us finish the job,”’ says Nancy Hayden of Nashville about her son, Justin. He is a Marine private.

Funny that we’re hearing less from them than from other parents who are saying bad things about the U.S. Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here. And here. And, though less narrowly focused, here.

MORE: Nick Berg, by the way, tops the list of Google search queries for last week. Abu Ghraib — which has gotten more coverage — isn’t in the top ten unless you count (as you probably should) “lynndie england” for number 5.

STILL MORE: Reader Barry Dauphin emails:

Really good info on the poll and reactions to media. To add a bit to the mix, listening to NPR this morning was like all Abu Ghraib all the time. Story upon story about the intricate details of the process, repeating the same talking points again and again. Of course, it’s an important story and we need to understand as fully as possible what led to this. But NPR has it as virtually the only story. Any microscopic new detail (even ambiguous or hard to interpret details) are pushed zealously. The bottom line is America is the evil empire. The abuse discussed so far happened in approximately the same time window as CPA agreement with IGC. The fact that corrective measures were well under way before Sy Hersh seems completely lost on these folks. It is a minor, irrelevant detail. Other stories get pushed to the side because any program only has so much time to offer. Nada on Sudan. What UN oil-for-food scandal? Never a word about unrest in Iran. The prison shame is the only news. Unless it’s about higher gas prices. Curious how the “it’s about oil” folks don’t take the gas prices as evidence that it wasn’t about oil. Instead it’s evidence that the Bushies are incompetent. Jon Alter revealed the new meme which I see in the comments in other blogs. Incompetence will be the next indictment of Bush until something else can serve as evidence of how effectively evil he is.

Indeed. By contrast Mickey Kaus has constructive suggestions.

MORE STILL: Reader Tom McCobb emails:

I think all that is really needed is some plain talk from George Bush, regularly, frequently, and in a high profile medium. I long to see him on the t.v. saying “The media is not giving you the straight story and here is how….” What, is he afraid he will make someone mad? Andrew Sullivan is ‘spot on’ about this. All we get is unchallenged prattle from the media, and no riposte.


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