March 24, 2006

Where is all the good news from Iraq?

One of the ways in which Dubya's administration and its right-wing supporters try to undermine the credibility the US media's reporting on Iraq is to claim that there's this huge trove of 'good news' from Iraq, but that the bias of the US media keeps that news from getting reported. Instead, readers and viewers are subjected to a drumbeat of bad news that distorts the 'real' picture.

A good example of this tactic came Wednesday, as Dubya gave his performance at another one of those 'town hall' meetings that only the prez's supporters are allowed to attend:

Q [My husband's] job while serving {in Iraq] was as a broadcast journalist. And he has brought back several DVDs full of wonderful footage of reconstruction, of medical things going on. And I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, for a solution to this, because it seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus -- (applause) --

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, hold on a second.

Q They just want to focus on another car bomb, or they just want to focus on some more bloodshed, or they just want to focus on how they don't agree with you and what you're doing, when they don't even probably know how you're doing what you're doing anyway. But what can we do to get that footage on CNN, on FOX, to get it on headline news, to get it on the local news? Because you can send it to the news people -- and I'm sorry, I'm rambling -- like I have --

THE PRESIDENT: So was I, though, for an hour. (Laughter.)

Q -- can you use this, and it will just end up in a drawer, because it's good, it portrays the good. And if people could see that, if the American people could see it, there would never be another negative word about this conflict. [Emphasis added]

This magpie could go into all the reasons why the good news is totally swamped by the bad, but Gal Beckerman has already done the job for us. Here's a sample:

We're left with this nagging feeling, however, that the overwhelming reason why we see so much "bad news" coming out of Iraq is that, in spite of a halting start-and-stop sort of progress toward democratic institutions, things are not going well on the ground. (As the New York Times noted last week, both the number of insurgents, the number of foreign terrorists and the daily number of attacks by those groups more than tripled from February, 2004 to February of this year. And during that period, both oil and electricity production in Iraq have dwindled, as has household fuel availability. Which is why Bagdhad is darker than it was two years ago.)

We'll leave you with an example of the kind of story [former Columbia Journalism Review editor Michael] Massing longs for, but be warned: It isn't encouraging. It comes from ABC News and it goes like this: The other day: in search of a "good story," Jake Tapper visited the set of a popular sitcom, "Me and Layla" filming in the streets of Baghdad and starring the "Iraqi Danny Devito." Tapper was going to focus on the head of the entertainment company producing the show, a man named Hamid, in an attempt to highlight those "who are trying to make the Iraqi people laugh." Just as the ABC crew was taping a segment showing the sitcom being filmed, Tapper captured the director running to take an urgent phone call. Hamid, the man who had greenlighted "Me and Layla" and arranged for ABC to do the story, had just been assassinated.

What did Tapper learn?:

"It just goes to show, even when you are trying to do a story about comedy in Iraq, tragedy inevitably intervenes."

Via CJR Daily.

Posted by Magpie at March 24, 2006 01:11 PM | Media | Technorati links |