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January 30, 2005
The Seventy-Two Percent Solution

"Election is what I am need!"

An election is what Iraq needed, as the country's election commission estimates that 72% of eligible voters stormed the polls in today's elections, with the figure approaching 90% in areas such as Basra. Here's what the BBC says, and check out how they buried the lead:

Suicide attacks and explosions have killed 22 people - mainly in Baghdad - as voters take part in Iraq's first multi-party elections for 50 years.

Correspondents said there were crowds and smiles in the south and north as voters made their choices for a 275-member national assembly.

But few voters turned out in Sunni areas around the capital, reports said.

Iraq's electoral commission says up to 72% of voters cast ballots but the UN offered a more cautious assessment.

Before discussing the remarkable turnout in the face of widely-reported terrorist warnings of bloodbaths, the BBC discusses each and every attack on polling place. Understandably, the BBC needs to inform its readership of the attacks, but focusing on that instead of the victory of the Iraqi people shows a twisted sense of priorities. It's as if the Beeb reported D-Day by talking about how the Americans got chewed up on Omaha Beach while waiting until halwfway through the article to note that they achieved their objectives.

John Simpson returns to the turnout later, again invoking the UN:

Despite the attacks in Baghdad, voting at polling stations in the country's mostly Shia Muslim south and Kurdish north was said to be brisk.

Iraq's electoral commission held a news conference 90 minutes before polls closed to say turnout was estimated at 72%, with 90% or more in some Shia areas.

But electoral official Adil al-Lami did not say how these figures had been reached.

Earlier, the top UN electoral adviser Carlos Valenzuela offered a much more cautious assessment, saying turnout appeared to be high in many areas, but that it was too early to know for sure.

Well, perhaps they're performing an ancient ritual known as counting. Besides, the UN has less than 100 people in Iraq to facilitate these elections, so it's small wonder that they have no clue on election data. That never gets a mention by Simpson in this report. This is not Simpson's first questionable reporting from a war zone; in 1999, the London Times complained of Simpson's anti-Western bias in his Serbian reports.

I wonder if it even crosses Simpson's mind that the terrorists can count on his myopia like clockwork, or if it bothers him if it does.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 30, 2005 8:51 AM

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