30 December 2008

What If They Gave a War and No Reporters Came?

The above picture of lovely Iraqi ladies is a shot from the Baghdad beauty pageant a few weeks back depicted in WaPo's Unseen Iraq, and unless you count the shoe-throwing guy, it was probably the most in-depth reporting from Mesopotamia by an American outlet in weeks. That's probably why it comes as no surprise that the American networks are pulling the plug in Iraq. From Newsbusters:

So right on cue, Monday's New York Times reports that ABC, CBS and NBC have all pulled their full time reporters from Iraq. According to correspondent Brian Stelter, the lack of violence means the networks are less interested in the Iraq story: "Representatives for the networks emphasized that they would continue to cover the war and said the staff adjustments reflected the evolution of the conflict in Iraq from a story primarily about violence to one about reconstruction and politics."
Indeed, Iraqi civilian deaths plummeted to 5,714 for all of 2008 and U.S. deaths were down to just over 300. While that is still painfully high, the annual murder rate in America is at about 16,000 and will inevitably rise as the economy collapses around us. While the per capita rate is lower since the U.S. is about 10x as populous as Iraq, it gives you something to think about. It also gives a lot of credence to preconceptions about the media that "If it Bleeds, It leads!"

But aren't we at war as a nation, and what about all those "good news" stories the media never prints? Well, I think the "good news" stories were partly a method by which fervent Bush supporters could buttress their arguments against those "defeatist Democrats". Likewise, stubborn anti-war advocates eschewed all critical analysis and trumpeted everything that jackass Muqtada al-Sadr said as the imminent collapse of Bush regime. Except for some exceptionally dedicated reporters who spent a lot of time in Iraq, I don't think we ever really got much news that went beyond just the usual focus on domestic politics (from the American outlets at least). Talking heads on the big networks just shilling for their team with the Iraq talking points du jour doesn't really lend itself to extensive analysis and in-depth reporting. What a shame.

On the bright side, milblogs have provided an interesting perspective on what's happening with our soldiers over there, but they still don't have the saturation power of a dedicated bureau. Oh well, at least we can get plenty of coverage of mega-hunk Obama throwing up the shaka in Hawaii!


Darren M said...

Some of those Iraqi women are hot!! I'm just waiting for them to break into porn.

Elizabeth said...

Sadly, the decline of American journalism is almost complete...with a few rare and notable exceptions, of course.

More sad still, the incompetence and ineptitude of the media - all parts of it - doesn't exactly bode well for the survival of democracy, as we know it, either.

What the hell were we thinking, anyway!? The media couldn't properly cover a war if their freakin' lives depended on it - they're just not smart enough.

LT Nixon said...

Darren M,

If you would've been a pogue, you could've caught a glimpse of "Fashion TV" while you were in Iraq. It showed Middle Eastern babes 24/7 (usually frfom Lebanon and Qatar). Not sure why their religion insists they cover up...

Darren M said...

LT, I saw a lot of them outside the wire. I remember the first of many trips into the Christian sector, and falling in love (lust) 4 times in 15 minutes. You have to keep them younger than 40 though. They fall apart faster than American women after 40. Probably the harder lifestyle.

Anonymous said...

There's always a surprise under those long flowing robes.

Don't they call a war without reporters Afghanistan?

Skippy-san said...

There is lots of media coverage of all kinds of events in Iraq-and in Afghanistan. You just have to branch out some-its there I assure you. This argument that the press does not "cover the war properly" is a self deception. Each news media exercises its own judgment on what to report and that's ok. News reporting is still a business-and if they pulled reporters out that was a business decision. They don't work for free.

However it seems to me that this type of non-coverage is exactly what the US was seeking for a long time. Iraq is supposed to be a success story right?

I'd also suggest looking again at the Iraqi numbers- I casualties .org has the number in 2008 closer to 10000. What is not accounted in those numbers are the million or so Iraqis who have been more or less permanently dispossessed from their homes.

LT Nixon said...


The number I posted is from the Iraqi ministries, and the icasualties.org number is based on media reports and ministerial reports. Not sure which is more accurate, but the trend is clear that it has declined since last year.

Al-Jazeera English had good stuff on IRaq, but they tend to move "where the action is", so they don't cover it as much as they used to. I'm not one of these guys that thinks media has some duty to cover all things fairly and equally (since they are a business as you mention), but you have to wonder why the newspaper biz is in such decline.

The Sniper said...

So, does this mean we can finally say that we won? Or will they only announce that on Jan 21st as a result of his One-ness taking office?

Skippy-san said...

Depends on who you really care about in determining if we "won". Sure the Iraqis won a better existence than before-however I'm more concerned about what Americans get out of the deal. I remain un-repentant in my belief we got very little for all the effort we expended. That's not really winning-its simply bringing the adventure to an end of sorts. We won't really win till we leave that country. Sooner is better in my book. Our objectives were accomplished a long time ago.