Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Just how badly is the MSM mis-reporting the news from Iraq?

On the heels of my post from yesterday, quoting from Robert McFarlane's WSJ piece relating his work getting a joint Shia-Sunni fatwa against violence in Iraq, and how the MSM has yet to report of such a historic occurrence, comes this incredible post over at Protein Wisdom.

Honestly, this is the best single Iraq post since Chrenkoff stopped doing his Good News from Iraq series. It hammers the MSM for its hotel journalism, reducing the number of reporters in Iraq from 570 to, at it lowest level, 9, relying on sources like al Jazeera for their stories, and simply reporting numbers (number of bombs, numbers of crashes, number of casualties, etc.) without doing any analysis whatsoever.

Take, for example, the coverage of events in Anbar province. In September-November 2006, the Washington Post ran a series of articles suggesting that the US military was unable to defeat the bloody insurgency in western Iraq “or counter al-Qaeda’s rising popularity there.” These stories were echoed in the New York Times/International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, NBC News, ABC News, CNN, the AP and others, down to local TV.

But this was not the only picture of events in Anbar. In “Will the Real Anbar Narrative Please Stand Up?”, Bill Ardolino juxtaposed the WaPo stories against analysis by bloggers and embedded reporters like the Times of London’s Martin Fletcher and Michael Fumento for the Weekly Standard. Bill Roggio’s military and intelligence sources were angry over the media’s characterization of the secret reports cited by the WaPo. Roggio examined how the claims made in the WaPo coverage were taken out of the larger context of events in Anbar. Roggio and the Mudville Gazette’s “Greyhawk” charted the formation and rise of the Anbar Salvation Council — the alliance of 25 of the province’s 31 tribes in the fight against al Qaeda. Roggio and Greyhawk followed up when the Anbar tribes got US air and artillery support — a development ignored by the establishment media.

We now know which narrative was more accurate. Al Qaeda was not increasingly popular in Anbar. To the contrary, the local tribes were overwhelmingly opposing and increasingly waging war against al Qaeda, with support from the US military. Bloggers — carefully following and synthesizing information from their own sources, military information, embedded reporters, Arabic media and isolated stories in the establishment media over the course of a year — proved to be better remote journalists than those at the WaPo, NYT, CSM, AP, CNN, NBC and ABC (and any others I have overlooked).

Incidentally, as early as September 2004, Roggio had predicted the tribes would eventually turn on al-Qaeda. This type of development is crucial to winning a war against an insurgency. Popular support is key to the continuation of an insurgency; Mao Zedong famously advised his insurgents to “move through the people like a fish moves through water.” Thus, the magnitude of the media’s failure to recognize the import of the rise of the Anbar Salvation Council — and its portrayal of Anbar province as lost — cannot be understated.

It's very long but definitely worth the read.

(h/t LGF)

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