By all objective measurements the military situation in Iraq, including Baghdad, has improved considerably in recent months. However, those who rely on the Washington Post for their news probably know about this only if they regularly scour the paper’s back pages. The Post’s front page is still reserved for stories designed to obscure the military success we’re having in Iraq.
This story from yesterday’s paper is a good example. Reporter Joshua Partlow accompanied some U.S. troops into a Baghdad neighborhood that apparently is still plagued by sectarian violence, and quoted a few soldiers who, understandably, are disgusted. The Post also displays a big box with casualty statistics since the beginning of the war. It declines to display figures showing the substantial reductiion in recent months.
Buried in the text is this statement:
While top U.S. commanders say the statistics of violence have registered a steep drop in Baghdad and elsewhere, the soldiers’ experience in Sadiyah shows that numbers alone do not describe the sense of aborted normalcy — the fear, the disrupted lives — that still hangs over the city.
The Post thus expresses agnosticism over whether there has been a steep drop in violence (choosing to embrace only those statistics that cast our efforts in a bad light), while arguing that even if violence has declined steeply, the statistics don’t really tell the story. This reads like a lawyer’s brief, not fair-minded reporting.
One can almost imagine the Post issuing a memo on how to bury, minimize, and refute the good relatively good news associated with the surge. On the other hand, the Post is so deeply invested in its defeatist meme that, presumably, no memo was necessary.
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