Friday, May 18, 2007

The Washington Post & Chatham House - Two Sides Of One Sided Reporting

There is little new about today's Washington Post reporting on Iraq. It is its usual one sided anti-war self, giving a count of friendly casualties while ignoring all else in Iraq. Reading the news about the Iraq War in the Washington Post is like getting half of all the baseball scores. "In baseball today, its the Orioles 3, and in other games . . ."

If you want a realistic view of ongoing operations in Iraq - at least other then al Qaeda and Iranian successes - one must go to sources outside of the Washington Post to places such as here (coalition kills 4, captures 30 al Qaeda terrorists), here (soldier receives silver star for bravery in combat), here (Iraqi SOF capture terrorist leader in Basra), or here (Iraqi police ops kill two insurgents, capture 51). I could go on, but I am sure you get the idea. The Washington Post's reporting on Iraq is so one sided as to be despicable.

The Washington Post does go slightly beyond the norm today. Their headline is "60 Die in Iraq, Study Warns of Collapse." In the body of their story, the WP does not link to the study. I will though. Here. Its from the Chatham House in the UK.

The WP quotes liberally from the study's conclusions - mostly to give a very contrarian view to statements by our own U.S. Ambassador in Iraq. But the WP does not quote from the Chatham House study's underlying findings, few if any of which seem supported by fact.

For example, Al Qaeda in Iraq is under extreme pressure, having been largely driven into Diyala Province from its former bases in Anbar Province and Baghdad. Indeed, one major change on the ground in Iraq that is extremely well documented has been the success of the locals in Anbar Province turning on Al Qaeda in Iraq and, with MNF support, driving them largely out of the province. Its been so successful that Marines in Ramadi are complaining of boredom and monotony. Nonetheless, in asserting that things are only getting worse in Iraq, Chatham House actually roots for al Qaeda, ascribing to them the big mo' while downplaying the incredible success of the Anbar Salvation Council:

Al-Qaeda has a very real presence in Iraq that has spread to the major cities of the centre and north of the country, including Baghdad, Kirkuk and Mosul. Although Al-Qaeda’s position is challenged by local actors, it is a mistake to exaggerate the ability of tribal groups and other insurgents to stop the momentum building behind its operations in Iraq.
This gives a bit of the flavor that thoroughly infests the Chatham House Study. They do the same for the Mahdi Army and downplay recent moves by the SICI to switch allegance to Grand Ayatollah Sistani. In truth, the report reads much more like a fantasy drafted by Harry "we've lost the war and the surge has failed so let's leave before the '08 election" Reid then any reasonable attempt to ascertain reality in Iraq. That certainly does not stop the Washington Post from referring to it and trumpeting its findings over the opposing views expressed by Ambassador Coker. It only stops the Washington Post from linking to the report.

Do read the article here, then you decide. And if you are tired of the Washington Posts one sided reporting, do let the WP ( and the article's author know. Don't you think it is about time to start to demand some balance from the nation's supposedly objective journalists in MSM?


Anonymous said...

I don't think someone relying on information by one party in the conflict should complain about "one-sided" journalism. The fact that someone relies on other sources is merely counterweight to your serving as an outlet for the US military. Perhaps you should consider diversifying yourself?

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous—

Unlike your “other sources” this website is balanced by the widest swath of facts possible—objective reality. It often presents the “bad news out of Iraq”. It makes no attempt to hide or obfuscate failures and conversely it takes time to celebrate the successes, which there are plenty. The “other sources” that you admire so greatly are fine to read as long as one seeks out the full story. No single source presents it. These “other sources” like the WaPo present a deliberately narrow path of data, quotes out of context, and unsustainable analysis to lead a reader to one preordained conclusion. The headlines are subjectively biased, parsed, inflammatory, and even destructive. If you spend some time here you’ll see this site is dedicated to presenting the honest truth out of the Mideast.

Calling this website an “outlet for the US military” is baseless. If it strikes you as such it may be because he is incredibly knowledgeable about the military and understands what the numbers mean and don’t mean, unlike the theater critics turned war critics like Frank Rich of the NYT. 1 in 5 stories will focus on numbers that present the objective reality on the ground in Iraq to for informational purposes and occasionally to refute articles which present misleading partial truths or outright falsehoods. The rest of his postings focus on issues that have brought us to this point like the oil fueled spread of Wahhabi Islam and threats similar Islamists pose worldwide. He also looks forward to ideas and movements that can get us out this death spiral between civilizations, like the forging of a secular Islam’s reformation, the St. Petersburg Declaration, and giving an outlet to moderate American Muslims like M. Zuhdi Jasser.

So to answer your suggestion, “perhaps you should consider diversifying yourself?” Towncommons is plenty diverse. Unlike the MSM, it presents both sides and tears down what is manipulative, false and unsustainable and builds up that which is true and rational. To leave Iraq before securing the country is irrational.

What are the consequences if we do? Anonymous, paint me a picture of the US leaving Iraq in mid war. How will the Mideast benefit from that?

scott said...

Anonymous - I do not understand how you can consider simply reporting friendly casualties while ignoring all else to be ethical and appropriate journalism by a mainstream media outlet. I do not mind them being very critical of what is happening in Iraq. I am also in varying degree. Nor do I think they are acting inappropriately by telling us of friendly casualties. But then telling us nothing else?

That is showing us only one side of the coin on the single most important issue facing the nation today. That is the height of intellectual dishonesty. I would sincerely hope that is a point that all sides can agree upon, regardless of whether you think the war in Iraq was a good idea or whether we should quit the country now. I can and do respect opposing views. But what I do not respect is what the WP has done in this article.

Intellectual dishonesty and sound bite philosophy being used to manipulate the electorate are the bane of an informed electorate. By their selective reporting, that is what the WP is doing.

So at any rate, where would you consider I further diversify myself. I do link you to the Chatham House Study that the WP cites and I do examine its factual underpinnings. The WP does neither. I would assume that a point of reasonable diversity. You do not.

I look for news from all sources around Iraq, including what is happening with the military effort that is unreported in the WP. I would assume that a point of reasonable diversity. You do not.

Under those circumstances, I would ask that you direct me to at least a few of the sources that you would consider to be diversity. I am quite willing to consider your suggestions. But you make none. Simply a broad based accusation. That is intellectual dishonesty. It is a distorted picture of reality.

I awaityour response.


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