Thursday, December 15, 2005

Everything he thought he knew was wrong

posted by Rob at 10:36 AM

There's the Reality in Iraq, then the Media-Created Fantasy of Iraq. The contrast is finally gaining some attention, as evidenced by none other than CNN's Anderson Cooper:
Every soldier I talked to today said the media hasn't done a good job of telling the full story from Iraq. It's a complaint I've heard before, and certainly understand. I do think television tends to focus on the bombs and the bullets, the most dramatic headlines. So much of what happens here never makes the nightly news.
Here's a take from a journalist blogging about his first trip to Iraq:

More than anything in the last few days I’ve heard from soldiers and commanders that people back home don’t quite get it. They don’t see the real picture. They don’t get the real story. Some of them, like Lt. Col. Gregg Parrish, look seriously pained in the face when he says only a part of the picture is being told; the part of car bombs and explosives and suicide bombers and death. It’s a necessary part of the picture, but not a complete one, he says.

I’ve listened to the soldiers and Parrish about the missing pieces of the puzzles that don’t reach home. My selfish, journalistic drive immediately thinks “Perfect. A story that hasn’t been told. Let me at it.”

But I have a slight hesitation; I need to keep balanced. I can’t be a cheerleader, even if I have a soft spot for the hometown troops, especially after the welcome they’ve shown me. I still need to be truthful and walk the centerline and report the good or bad.

But then I realize it’s not a conflict of interest. If I am truly unbiased, then I need to get used to this one simple fact; that the untold story, might in fact, be a positive one.
As Iraqis vote today, it will be interesting to see how the national media handle the reports of turnouts versus the backdrop they've painted the past several weeks.

UPDATE: Austin Bay has some details on the view in Iraq from the New York Times:
The NY Times offers something at least quasi-optimistic, but note the headline’s spin “Heavy Sunni Turnout Is Reported; No Large-Scale Attacks by Rebels”. The terrorists and fascists are still “rebels,” not anti-liberty, power-mad reactionaries. That is what Zarqawi’s and Saddam’s minions are.

The article still has plenty of flash and bang — the juice of violence on a day when democratic hope is the big story. ...

Millions vote. That’s the big story, the huge, grand story. The democratic surge continues– that’s the tide of history. This report, however, suggests thoroughly ingrained and institutionalized pessimism. Note the language of gloom, doom and failure lurking in the text.(”fissures”, “deadlock”, “alarm”, “profound differences”, “vastly polarized”, “growing pressure” on American commanders, etc.).


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