You may have seen news accounts of the briefing that Donald Rumsfeld and General Pace gave today. The full transcript is here. Rumsfeld commented on the press coverage of Iraq, in the context of the current “civil war” hysteria:
It’s instructive to take note of several things that have happened in Iraq since the bombing of the shrine that must be disappointing to those who seek a civil war.
First, the Iraqi security forces have taken the lead in controlling the situation. Coalition forces assisted in a supporting role, according to General Casey.
And second, the Iraqi government leaders took a number of key steps that have had a calming effect in the situation. They imposed a curfew, and the leaders of most of the major parties have stepped forward to publicly urge restraint on all parties.
From what I’ve seen thus far, much of the reporting in the U.S. and abroad has exaggerated the situation, according to General Casey. The number of attacks on mosques, as he pointed out, had been exaggerated. The number of Iraqi deaths had been exaggerated. The behavior of the Iraqi security forces had been mischaracterized in some instances. And I guess that is to say nothing of the apparently inaccurate and harmful reports of U.S. military conduct in connection with a bus filled with passengers in Iraq.
Interestingly, all of the exaggerations seem to be on one side. It isn’t as though there simply have been a series of random errors on both sides of issues. On the contrary, the steady stream of errors all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists and to discourage those who hope for success in Iraq.
And then I notice today that there’s been a public opinion poll reporting that the readers of these exaggerations believe Iraq is in a civil war — a majority do, which I suppose is little wonder that the reports we’ve seen have had that effect on the American people.
General Casey has reported that overall levels of violence have not increased substantially as a result of the Golden Dome bombing.
The reporters didn’t react positively to Rumsfeld’s criticism of the press coverage; here was the first question:
Q Mr. Secretary, I’d like to clear up exactly what you’re saying here. Are you saying that this poll and that what you call the rush toward declaring civil war in Iraq, is that the result of intentional misreporting of the situation there?
Rumsfeld didn’t answer “Yes,” but I would have. A follow-up question:
Q Well, do you believe that the media’s been duped by the situation or doesn’t understand it or what?
SEC. RUMSFELD: All I’m doing is reporting. I’m just reporting the facts. (Laughter.) The facts are as I’ve stated them. You’ll have to draw your own conclusions about it.