American Privilege

Part of the privilege that comes with being an American living in the United States is selective awareness. Nowhere is this more true than in Iraq, where media pundits and right-wing bloggers supportive of Bush’s war policies blithely superimpose their own template on that country with never a need to see Iraq through anyone’s eyes but their own.

Take, for example, today’s article in the New York Times about the increased difficulty foreign correspondents are having in getting the major networks to air their reports:

According to data compiled by Andrew Tyndall, a television consultant who monitors the three network evening newscasts, coverage of Iraq has been “massively scaled back this year.” Almost halfway into 2008, the three newscasts have shown 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage, compared with 1,157 minutes for all of 2007. The “CBS Evening News” has devoted the fewest minutes to Iraq, 51, versus 55 minutes on ABC’s “World News” and 74 minutes on “NBC Nightly News.” (The average evening newscast is 22 minutes long.)

CBS News no longer stations a single full-time correspondent in Iraq, where some 150,000 United States troops are deployed.


Interviews with executives and correspondents at television news networks suggested that while the CBS cutbacks are the most extensive to date in Baghdad, many journalists shared varying levels of frustration about placing war stories onto newscasts. “I’ve never met a journalist who hasn’t been frustrated about getting his or her stories on the air,” said Terry McCarthy, an ABC News correspondent in Baghdad.

By telephone from Baghdad, Mr. McCarthy said he was not as busy as he was a year ago. A decline in the relative amount of violence “is taking the urgency out” of some of the coverage, he said. Still, he gets on ABC’s “World News” and other programs with stories, including one on Friday about American gains in northern Iraq.

Anita McNaught, a correspondent for the Fox News Channel, agreed. “The violence itself is not the story anymore,” she said. She counted eight reports she had filed since arriving in Baghdad six weeks ago, noting that cable news channels like Fox News and CNN have considerably more time to fill with news than the networks. CNN and Fox each have two fulltime correspondents in Iraq.

Note that quote I’ve bolded, above. There is a hint in there. If the violence itself is not the story anymore, what is?

If you are John Hinderaker, the answer is obvious:

I suppose it’s understandable, in a way, that coverage would be “massively scaled back” when there is less violence to report on. One wonders, though, whether the change may be due in part to the fact that network executives are more excited about publicizing apparent failure in Iraq than success there.

The media has lost interest in Iraq news, in other words, because the media only wants negative news, and there is no — or very little — negative news to report anymore. Iraq is a success story; the United States has won the war, and now all we have to do is find a way to persuade the Iraqis to let us stay there indefinitely so that we can keep them safe from the terrorists continue to reap the geopolitical and economic benefits that brought us there to begin with.

What’s truly astounding is that John can put out, and believe, this “no more tears formula” packaging of the war despite the fact that powerful evidence to the contrary is staring him right in the face, at the top of the article, right below the headline. Indeed, John had to scroll down, below that graphic visual evidence, to even begin reading the text of the article. You can’t see the first line of text without scrolling down.

Success in Iraq
Is that success?

10 Responses to “American Privilege”

  1. Bryan says:

    Are you trying to prove Hinderaker’s point, Kathy? That the Times can’t be bothered to publish anything that doesn’t carry the stain of failure attached?

    There are plenty of pictures of success. Markets in Basra, Baghdad and even Kirkuk operating like normal everyday markets. Former Sunni insurgents gainfully employed in keeping security in their provinces–fighting al Qaida. Iraq poised to secure oil deals that will help ensure a national income to enable investment in infrastructure–investment severely neglected for thirty years (since Hussein began pouring resources into the Iran-Iraq War–with only a tiny respite between that and the invasion of Kuwait). The Times has access to the traditional defense. Violence sells papers. Stories about happy Iraqi markets do not. The fact that heavy reporting on the success in Iraq would not help Obama is just gravy.

  2. Kathy says:

    That market in Baghdad — would that be the same one that David Petraeus drove through in an open unarmed Hummer? Or is it the one that John McCain strolled through in a bullet-proof jacket surrounded by armed troops with helicopters hovering overhead, as he told us that any of us Americans could walk around there without fear?

    Gainfully employed? By whom? I guess they must have worked those problems with the U.S. not paying them.

    I’m sure you remember that Hussein had a lot of help from the U.S. with those resources he poured into the Iran-Iraq war. Oh, and about the infrastructure: It has been neglected, but not for 30 years. It was fine before 1991, when the U.S. destroyed it in the Gulf War, and over the next 12 years of almost continuous bombing raids. Funny, not much has been done with that infrastructure in the past five years, either. Saddam, as you’ll recall quit his job in 2003.

    One final note: Happy Iraqi markets are nice, but they are no substitute for clean water, food, a home, and friends and relatives who aren’t dead. Pictures of happy Iraqi markets make Americans like you happy, but if you were an Iraqi living in Iraq day to day, and having gone through the last five years of war and occupation (not to mention the more than a decade of killer sanctions before that, and before THAT the Gulf War) you would know that Iraq is not a happy place overall. In fact, overall, Iraq is hell.

  3. Kathy says:

    an open unarmed Hummer

    Sorry, an open unarmed Humvee. I see so many make-believe invaders and armchair warriors in their pretend military tanks on the streets now that sometimes I do get mixed up between Hummers and Humvees.

  4. Bryan says:

    Huh. Kathy didn’t answer the question again. The start of a pattern?

  5. Chief says:

    As long as the U.S. has even one permanent base in Iraq, I;ll never buy into the “Success in Iraq” mindset. We are occupiers there and we need to leave.

    If the media is ‘bored’ and isn’t reporting as many war stories, maybe is says more about the media and the American public than it says about any measure of success.

  6. Kathy says:

    I answered the question, Bryan. You just don’t like the answer.

  7. Bryan says:

    Uh, Kathy, you conspicuously avoided the subject of journalism and whether or not it was your intent to support Hinderaker’s argument. Instead you tried to take issue with whether or not pictures showing progress in Iraq, such as the ones I suggested, would show Iraq as something other than hell.

    There’s nothing to like or dislike about your “answer” unless it’s the relative distance from the questions that were asked.

  8. Kathy says:

    Bryan, why would I address the question of whether or not it was my intent to support Hinderaker’s argument? That is *your* spin on what I wrote, *your* way of justifying your position. It’s not something I need to respond to, as if it were a serious point.

  9. Bryan says:

    So since it’s something you didn’t need to respond to were you just being funny when you said you answered the question?
    Great stuff, Kathy. I look forward to more.

  10. Kathy says:

    Nope. I was being serious.


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