Good News from Baghdad

Jonathan Foreman in the Weekly Standard writes that the international press corps is mis-reporting postwar events in Iraq:
“It’s endlessly fascinating to watch the interactions between U.S. patrols and the residents of Baghdad. It’s not just the love bombing the troops continue to receive from all classes of Baghdadi–though the intensity of the population’s pro-American enthusiasm is astonishing, even to an early believer in the liberation of Iraq, and continues unabated despite delays in restoring power and water to the city.
“But you won’t see much of this on TV or read about it in the papers. To an amazing degree, the Baghdad-based press corps avoids writing about or filming the friendly dealings between U.S. forces here and the local population–most likely because to do so would require them to report the extravagant expressions of gratitude that accompany every such encounter. Instead you read story after story about the supposed fury of Baghdadis at the Americans for allowing the breakdown of law and order in their city.
“Well, I’ve met hundreds of Iraqis as I accompanied army patrols all over the city during the past two weeks and I’ve never encountered any such fury….”
Foreman speculates a bit about the cause of the negativity in news coverage: “Perhaps this is just another case of reporters with an anti-American or antiwar agenda. Perhaps living in Saddam’s totalitarian Baghdad has left some of the press here with a case of Stockholm syndrome. It may also be a byproduct of depending on interpreters and fixers who were connected to or worked with the approval of the Saddam regime. And you cannot underestimate the herd instinct that can take over when you have a lot of media folk in a confined area for any length of time. But whatever the cause, the result has been very selective reporting.”
Personally, I suspect that the first explanation–simple anti-Americanism–is correct. These reporters are the same ones who expounded with equal breathlessness on the unforeseen strength of iraqi resistance, the stalling of the advance toward Baghdad, etc. Military events, in the end, were clear enough that they were not able to distort the military outcome of the war. But the post-war scene, with its inevitably greater ambiguities, offers much greater possibilities for misleading reporting.


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