October 23, 2007

What If Violence Fell And No One Reported It?

Yesterday, the Iraqi Interior Ministry reported on a dramatic decline in violence throughout the nation since the full complement of surge troops reached Iraq. Even in Baghdad, where the conflict has raged even with a heavier US presence, bombings have dropped by half and murders by 28%. In Anbar, violence fell by 82% since the end of June.

Reuters reported this yesterday afternoon:

Violence in Iraq has dropped by 70 percent since the end of June, when U.S. forces completed their build-up of 30,000 extra troops to stabilize the war-torn country, the Interior Ministry said on Monday. ...

In Baghdad, considered the epicenter of the violence because of its mix of Shi'ites and Sunni Arabs, car bombs had decreased by 67 percent and roadside bombs by 40 percent, he said. There had also been a 28 percent decline in the number of bodies found dumped in the capital's streets.

In Anbar, a former insurgent hotbed where Sunni Arab tribes have joined U.S. forces against al Qaeda, there has been an 82 percent drop in violent deaths.

Reuters serves thousands of newspapers and media outlets worldwide. Their story didn't come from an anonymous source, nor was this the result of an exclusive interview with the Interior Minister in Iraq. It came from a public announcement from the ministry. Given the critical nature of the information for the war debate, one would expect that American news outlets would give this some high-profile coverage, either by reprinting the Reuters wire service copy or assigning reporters to the announcment ... right?

Wrong. Despite the announcement coming well before deadline yesterday -- the Reuters article has a 1:01 pm ET timestamp -- the major newspapers apparently didn't consider the violence drop newsworthy today. The Los Angeles Times covers the National Assembly's proposal to limit US military missions in Iraq. The New York Times reports on Kurdish terrorism in Iran. The Washington Post didn't even bother to have a report on Iraq for its morning edition today.

Some might call this all a coincidence -- that the three most influential newspapers in the US would all ignore the announcement of statistics that underscore the success of the American military in Iraq this year. Some might believe that all three had more important priorities than to note how well the new strategy and tactics adopted by General David Petraeus have worked in saving lives as well as defeating terrorists. Arguments will be made as to how these casualty declines don't really matter, even though all three newspapers have had no trouble giving large headlines to casualty increases in the past.

Unfortunately, it takes a willing suspension of disbelief to conclude anything other than an editorial bias on behalf of these newspapers against success in this war.

UPDATE: The NYT's editorial board never fails to disappoint. "The news out of Iraq just keeps getting worse." At least the news that the Gray Lady prints does ...


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Earlier, Captain Ed wrote about many of the major media outlets ignoring a story that is good news from Iraq, namely a dramatic decline in violence in Iraq. Violence in Iraq has dropped by 70 percent since the end of June, when U.S. forces completed th... [Read More]

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