Monday, December 11, 2006


It's Worse Than We Think

Actually, the 'bad news' from Iraq is "significantly underreported"
Posted by Joshua Holland at 10:51 AM on December 9, 2006.
Joshua Holland: I won't hold my breath waiting for the wingnuts to admit they're full of s**t ...

Image courtesy of some right-wing chucklehead with Photoshop.

Breaking: Articles of Impeachment filedJan Frel
Conservative Senator: Iraq War may be "criminal" [VIDEO]Evan Derk
Just as a child -- say, an emotionally-fragile, mentally-challenged child -- might embrace a comforting blanky for protection against monsters lurking under the bed, so conservatives cling, desperately, to the idea that the media is exaggerating the extraordinary suckiness in Iraq in order to avoid facing the smoldering, blood-stained consequences of the invasion they championed with such zeal.

Consider this recent gem from Mark Noonan at Blogs for Bush, in a post reacting to the Iraq Study Group's report [ht: Sadly, No!]:

[…The] report asserts things are deteriorating in Iraq: to me, this is just conforming the report to the phony story of Iraq produced by the MSM. I think it was more of a, "ya know, if we tell the truth about all the good things that are happening in Iraq, no one will believe us because the MSM has spent the past two years broadcasting enemy propaganda".

Yes, he is that dumb (Noonan trusts what Gavin at Sadly No! calls "an official Department of Defense 'information warfare' propaganda site" for his info about Iraq).

Anyway, Editor and Publisher noted that the Baker-Hamilton report has some bits that are sure to create some serious cognitive dissonance among the wing-nut set (ht: Steve Benen):

[The report says], bluntly, that "there is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq" by the U.S. military. "The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases," the report continues.

Looking at one day, the report found undercounting of violent attacks by more than 1000 percent.
"A murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack," the report explained." If we cannot determine the source of a sectarian attack, that assault does not make it into the database. A roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn't hurt U.S. personnel doesn't count. For example, on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence [officially] reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence.

"Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals."


Baghdad and its environs are far too dangerous for most reporters to go visit, for example, hospitals or morgues in the country's worst hot spots -- most of the info we get from the media is based on these official data. So if the military is underreporting the 'bad news' the dreaded EM-ES-EM is as well.

And then there's the very real likelihood that the "good news" about the status of reconstruction projects in Iraq coming from USAID and other agencies is quite significantly overreported. That suggests that, if anything, the commercial media is painting a better picture of Iraq than the facts on the ground warrant, which is a scary thought.

The right's ridiculously vitriolic reaction to the Baker-Hamilton report is largely explained by the fact that it is blunt in its condemnation of the preznit's conduct of the war and that it calls for talking with Iran and Syria. But I would imagine that this part about the underreported violence has something to do with it as well.

Tagged as: right-wing, media, iraq
Joshua Holland is a staff writer at Alternet and a regular contributor to The Gadflyer.
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