Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Breaking News Flash: AP Politically Biased!
Hard to believe, isn't it?...
Here's how AP's dispatch on the Iraqi Constitution was reported by ABC:
Let's take a look at just that much, shall we?
Draft Constitution Adopted by Iraq Voters
Iraq's Constitution Is Adopted; Two Marines Reported Killed As U.S. Death Toll Nears 2,000
BAGHDAD, Iraq Oct 25, 2005 — Iraq's constitution was adopted by a majority in a fair vote during the country's Oct. 15 referendum, as Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough support to defeat it, election officials said Tuesday. A prominent Sunni politician called the balloting "a farce."
The U.S. military also announced the deaths of two Marines in fighting with insurgents last week in Baghdad, bringing the number of American service members killed in the war to 1,999.
The referendum results, announced after a 10-day audit following allegations of fraud, confirmed previous indications that Sunni Arabs failed to produce the two-thirds "no" vote they would have needed in at least three of Iraq's 18 provinces to defeat the constitution.
The White House congratulated Iraqis on the results.
"It's a landmark day in the history of Iraq," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. "The political process is continuing to move forward in Iraq and it is an encouraging sign to see more and more people participating in the process."
The charter is considered a major step in Iraq's democratic reforms, clearing the way for the election of a new, full-term Iraqi parliament on Dec. 15. Such steps are important in any decision about the future withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Iraq.
However, some fear the victory, which came despite a large turnout by Sunni Arabs in an effort to defeat it, could enrage many members of the minority and fuel their support for the insurgency.
There have been a great many real concerns about the Iraqi constitution: could Iraq could write a constitution at all? Would there be sufficient support for it to even bring it to a vote? Would Sunnis have the sense to not boycott the election this time? Would Iraqis go to the polls in spite of the threat of violence? Could the tragedy of a terrorist attack at the polls be avoided? Would the results of the election, if held, be conclusive?
Any one of those issues could have halted the entire process. But the answer to all those questions is YES, and the Iraqi draft constitution will be adopted! This is wonderful news.
And, to be fair, AP's (or ABC's) main headline is "Draft Constitution Adopted by Iraq Voters". But they have to throw in a negative subtitle, don't they? -- Marines killed, American death toll nears 2,000.
Let's speak frankly about that last bit, by the way. As much as every American military death is a tragedy, for their families and for the country, the final body count is not what's important here. We did not invade Iraq with a goal of keeping American deaths below a specific number. Nor did President Bush ever announce that we'd leave Iraq once the body count surpassed a particular point; in fact, he's been quite clear that he would not do so. (It would have been immoral and defeatist, at best, for him to have done so; for such a declaration is tantamount to a declaration of defeat. If the enemy knows that we'll cut our losses by a particular date, or a particular body count, then they can simply wait us out.)
So why mention the number at all? Because the anti-war movement has been harping on it, that's why.
Read on: the first paragraph declares the Iraqi constitutional vote a success, but includes an unattributed quote, calling the elections "a farce". (Was it necessary to introduce such negativity into the first paragraph? And was it so necessary, in fact, that an unidentified source had to be used? Was it really that hard to find a "prominent Sunni cleric", willing to speak on the record against the election?)
But paragraph one is still weighted in favor of the results, apparently, even with the negative wording of "Sunni Arab opponents failed to muster enough support" etc. So naturally, the second paragraph must be doom and gloom, all the way... and it is.
Then we get a few paragraphs on the White House reaction to this, and some cute editorializing: The charter is considered a major step in Iraq's democratic reforms, clearing the way for the election of a new, full-term Iraqi parliament on Dec. 15. Such steps are important in any decision about the future withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Iraq. Apparently, the withdrawal of forces from Iraq is the most important issue at stake here... or at least AP thinks so. (Personally, I'd say that the most important issue here is that Iraqi democracy has won a major victory. In re American troops, I'd say that the most important issue is that we not leave before our job is done... as President Bush has repeatedly insisted.)
Nonetheless, we need to follow this up with yet another unattributed doom-and-gloom diatribe: However, some fear the victory, which came despite a large turnout by Sunni Arabs in an effort to defeat it, could enrage many members of the minority and fuel their support for the insurgency.
"Some fear" -- that old standby for journalists wanting to push a particular point of view without naming names. (Think about it. The journalist who wrote that dispatch may be the only one who "fears" this; it would still be accurate, wouldn't it? And if such things are written in the hopes of influencing more people to think that way, then what we have is journalism influencing history. It's supposed to be the other way around, isn't it?)
"The victory, which came despite a large turnout by Sunni Arabs in an effort to defeat it" -- gosh, you make victory sound like a bad thing. If opposition was that strong, doesn't that make an unequivocal victory all that much more impressive? But I don't suppose you'd want to say that, AP, would you?
Nor would you want to note that the constitutional vote could not possibly have passed without heavy Sunni support for it. Two predominantly-Sunni provinces voted for the constitution; neither vote was particularly close. But I guess that doesn't support your conclusion either.
What puzzles me -- and disturbs me, just a little -- is just how far AP is willing to twist logic into a pretzel to support their version of events, to make a pro-Iraq (and pro-American) victory seem as dismal as possible.
I'm also dismayed by ABC's willingness to run it as given. Do they truly think all their readers are idiots, unable to read between the lines of what they're publishing? Well, perhaps that's just what they do think... and if so, I hope they're prepared to accept ever-decreasing market share. People generally don't take kindly to being treated like idiots.
UPDATE: J.D. Johannes writes eloquently and movingly about "death #2000":
The Marines and soldiers who fight in Iraq are not numbers, but the media and certain groups are treating them as if they were. Number 2,000 was a national treasure, just as number 1,435 was and number 2,038 will be. For what is the value of a man who will fight a war for others who despise him?Please do read the whole thing.
(hat tip: Instapundit)