Sunday, May 01, 2011

Editorial: What we have is a media failure

Protests took place in Iraq on Friday. Didn't get the western press attention, did they?

April was "the deadliest month for US troops in Iraq since 2009." But if you heard about that last week, you heard about it from France's AFP wire service and not from a western outlet. (AP did a story today that some outlets have picked up.)

children of iraq

While the children of Iraq live in squalor (photo above via The Great Iraqi Revolution), your US media outlets aren't rushing to report on that, are they?

Last week, a right-wing columnist attacked a number of public figures for refusing to call out Barack Obama for continuing the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War and starting the Libyan War. The problem with the column was that those called out included Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan.

The right-winger -- and all the people leaving comments to his column -- were unaware that Cindy Sheehan has, in fact, repeatedly called out the War Hawk Barack. From her most recent column:

Then there are the King and Queen of America who don't find anything amiss with taking expensive vacations with their Subjects footing huge portions of the bill, while unemployment is still at Depression-era levels, and when the Subjects, who are lucky enough to have jobs, can't afford even a "staycation." When the Obamas took their first $50,000/week vacation in 2009 on Martha's Vineyard, I was incensed and expressed it (as is my custom). One male Imperial Subject asked me, "Cindy, where do you expect him to stay? A Motel 6 in Orlando, Florida?" My answer was, "Hell yeah, if it's good enough for us, it's good enough for them."

And while we know that, we're aware that a lot of others don't. Why is that? In the same column, Cindy Sheehan explained:
Anyway -- if one has an insatiable thirst for institutional violence on a massive and very extravagant scale—like Miss Crowley -- then whom else would you have on your program to talk about the US/British/NATO war crimes in Libya? Certainly not Cindy Sheehan, Cynthia McKinney or Dennis Kucinich? Heck no, if one of us were interviewed on CiaNN, we may actually tell the truth about what's really happening in Libya and the tiny cat's paw of doubt may begin to creep into the minds of the average consumer of CiaNN's "All war, All the time," news-o-tainment.
You can't know what's not covered.

What we have is a media failure.

That only becomes clearer with each day.

Michael T. Heaney and Fabio Rojas recently authored the 'study' entitled "The Partisan Dynamics of Contention: Demobilization of the Antiwar Movement in the United States, 2007-2009." If you're not getting how extreme the media failure is, read that study or, better yet, listen to Heaney blather on to a skeptical Scott Horton on Antiwar Radio last month.

Dismissing with both the chicken and the egg, Heaney rushes to serve you an omelet.

Heaney rushes to insist that there are two reasons people participate in protests (only two reasons?): "strong sense of threat" and "they feel their voice is not being heard."

There are many, many more reasons people participate in protests. But let's focus on Heaney's omelet (and maybe a little catsup will help it go down).

Where did people get a "strong sense of threat" about the Bush administration? Where did "they feel their voice is not being heard"? And where do Americans get the information that the Obama administration should not provide a "strong sense of threat" or the foolish notion that their 'voice is being heard'?

It's a media issue.

You can't study the decrease without studying the media.

That is the primary reason. And when you offer bulls**t that is such bulls**t that you're saying "I think" about your supposed study (if it's a study, you know what the study says), you're not helping anyone.

At the end of last August, Barack offered that combat operations were over in Iraq. All that was missing was his Mission Accomplished banner. The war wasn't over. But find the outlets that noted that. Only one.

Memo from AP Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production Tom Kent:

Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.
To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.

As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."

However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on.
In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.
Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.
Unless there is balancing language, our content should not refer to the end of combat in Iraq, or the end of U.S. military involvement. Nor should it say flat-out (since we can't predict the future) that the United States is at the end of its military role.

What we have is a media failure. It's benefiting Barack Obama so don't expect to hear a lot of complaints from the left. They only pretend to be outraged by the media when their heroes aren't being fawned over. But it's a media failure and those who really care are people who object regardless of whether their 'side' benefits or not.
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