Today, another bitchy statement from Congressman Jim Marshall (D-GA) about how journalists are hurting soldiers by reporting, you know, things that happen in Iraq:
I went to Iraq a couple of weeks ago to resolve for myself the recent contrast between gloomy news coverage and optimistic Pentagon reports of our progress. My trip left no doubt that the Pentagon's version is far closer to reality. Our news coverage disproportionately dwells on the deaths, mistakes and setbacks suffered by coalition forces. Some will attribute this to a grand left-wing conspiracy, but a more plausible explanation is simply the tendency of our news media to focus on bad news. It sells. Few Americans think local news coverage fairly captures the essence of daily life and progress in their hometowns. Coverage from Iraq is no different.
Falsely bleak Iraq news circulating in the United States is a serious problem for coalition forces because it discourages Iraqi cooperation, the key to our ultimate success or failure, a daily determinant of life or death for American soldiers. As one example, coalition forces are now discovering nearly 50 percent of the improvised explosive devices through tips. Guess how they discover the rest.
I challenge Marshall, then, to explain where that news should come from. Yes, it's a journalist's job to hit the streets and find the news, but, often, journalists get their leads from the people they're covering. Over the past two weeks, the Coalition Provisional Authority has released the following press releases:
George Wolfe Appointed Director of Economic Development: 19 September 2003 UK to Provide Football Assistance to Impoverished Iraqi Youths: 19 September 2003 Marines to Hand Over Al-Hillah Region to Spainards [sic]: 21 September 2003 Central European Experts on Economic Reform to Offer Advice to CPA: 21 September 2003 Iraqi Finance Minister Announces Significant Economic Reforms: 21 September 2003 Iraqi Football Team Moves One Step Closer to Olympics: 22 September 2003 5000 Year Old Warka Mask Returned to Baghdad Museum: 23 September 2003 President Bush's Remarks in Address to United Nations General Assembly: 23 September 2003 British Prime Minister Tony Blair Mourns the Passing of Hakila Al-Hashimi: 25 September 2003 Ambassador Bremer Laments the Murder of Hakila Al-Hashimi: 25 September 2003 Iraqi Students Return to Be-Baathified School: 01 October 2003
On the other hand, CENTCOM has released this list in the same time:
SOLDIER DIES FROM NON-HOSTILE GUNSHOT WOUND 9/30/03
SOLDIER DIES DURING RESCUE ATTEMPT 9/30/03
ONE SOLDIER DIED, ONE MISSING IN CANAL INCIDENT 9/30/03
ONE SOLDIER KILLED IN COMBAT NEAR SHKIN, AFGHANISTAN 9/30/03
ONE SOLDIER KILLED, ONE CIVILIAN INJURED DURING AN ATTACK NEAR AL HABBANIYAH 9/29/03
ONE 4TH ID SOLDIER DIED, ONE INJURED IN BUILDING FIRE 9/26/03
ONE 173RD BDE SOLDIER KILLED, TWO WOUNDED IN RPG ATTACK 9/26/03
ONE SOLDIER DIES, TWO INJURED IN VEHICLE ACCIDENT 9/25/03
SOLDIER DIES FROM NON-HOSTILE GUNSHOT WOUND 9/23/03
ONE 3RD ACR SOLDIER KILLED IN IED ATTACK 9/21/03
TWO SOLDIERS KILLED, 13 WOUNDED IN MORTAR ATTACK (CORRECTED) 9/21/03
THREE 4 ID SOLDIERS KILLED, TWO WOUNDED IN ATTACK 9/19/03
4TH INFANTRY DIVISION SOLDIER DIES 9/18/03
SOLDIER DIES IN NON-HOSTILE INCIDENT 9/17/03
Even if you reported these incidents side-by-side as nothing but lists, you'd find that the American people are going to perceive Iraq as not going well. It's not the media's fault that the American people, oddly enough, are sick of hearing about their soldiers dying for a war which seems more and more to have been inspired by politics and not solid intelligence (of any type).
On the other hand, let's look at the record. From the list of CPA press releases above, it seems that hundreds of stories were reported about Iraq and football and dozens about the Warka mask's being returned to the Baghdad Museum, including stories by CNN and the San Francisco Chronicle.
The problem for people like Marshall is that the media is reporting the "good news" in Iraq. There's just not much of it.