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Part I: No News is Good News
Read a few of the links from Arthur Chrenkoff's roundup of good news from Iraq and you'll see a pattern emerge.
Here's a quote Arthur used from a story on the strength of the Iraqi currency:
The upsurge in violence has worsened conditions for almost everyone and everything in Iraq, but the new currency. The Iraqi dinar is the winner as it has so far weathered the impact of mounting violence and car bombs that would have sent any other country?s currency tumbling.You see, in spite of how bad everything is, the currency is strong. Arthur also directs us to a report on the Iraqi stock exchange from the San Francisco Chronicle:
The stock exchange, which opened in July, may be one of Iraq's few success stories.Everything else is a mess, you see, but the Stock Exchange is doing okay. Credit cards are appearing in Iraq now too, as Arthur points out.
The bank said it would issue 30,000 Visa cards in Iraq by the end of the year. The company also plans to install the country's first network of automated teller machines, which would enable cardholders to withdraw Iraqi dinars or U.S. dollars from their accounts.But the final paragraph of the linked article is interesting too
Iraq's economy has been slow to recover since the 2003 U.S. invasion amid safety concerns that have left almost 30% of the workforce unemployed.The original has vanished from the LA Times website, but the report can still be viewed here.
Arthur's efforts are to be commended. By collecting a few dozen examples of what his individual sources dub the "only good news from an otherwise hopeless land" he reveals the ridiculous nature of the caveats the various news organizations feel compelled to add. Those claims collapse under the combined weight of the total number of stories that announce that everything is bad except this. News organizations can point to these stories as "balance" against the completely negative stories that comprise their overall coverage, but you'll rarely find a positive piece on Iraq that doesn't carry some sort of subtle disclaimer that it's not representative of what's happening in Iraq today.
Even a story as simple as the AFP account Arthur found about the Harley Davidson rider in Baghdad apparently requires this disclaimer:
And the 53-year-old is fully aware that his passion for one of the most recognizable symbols of the American way of life is not to everybody's liking in post-war Iraq.Some of his neighbors probably don't like that trademarked Harley roar, but the story offers no support for that, no quotes from anyone who has a problem with his hobby, and nothing to indicate whether the fact that the bike comes from the USA upsets anyone other than the author. But not only is it in the text, it's the headline of the piece: American icon: Iraqi powerlifter belches around Baghdad, Mr. Muscle's passion for Harleys not to everyone's liking in new Iraq.
Can't have the reader getting wrong ideas, after all.
Another story from Arthur's collection:
Recent polling data shows that fully two-thirds of Iraqis believe their country is headed in the right direction, Saboon said. While a poll in January showed only 11 percent of Sunni Muslims in Iraq shared that view, that percentage has since grown to 40, he said.In contast, here's what America thinks, according to USA Today:
Though Sunnis largely didn't participate in the Transitional National Assembly election Jan. 30, that outlook has changed as well in anticipation of coming elections. Saboon, who is a Sunni, said 92 percent of eligible voters throughout Iraq and 80 percent of the country's Sunnis are likely to vote in the next election.
Saboon told the group that Iraqi security forces now have the confidence of 83 percent of Iraq's population, that 70 percent are confident in the transitional Iraqi government, and that 73 percent believe the government is representative of the Iraqi population.
Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops from Iraq, a new Gallup Poll finds, the most downbeat view of the war since it began in 2003.Let's assume (for sake of discussion) that both claims are true and accurate. If so, an obvious conclusion can be drawn: Those who live in Iraq have a decidedly different opinion than those who only know what they read in the papers and see on TV.
We can only wonder why that might be so.
Here's one possible explanation from the USA Today piece though:
Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday that an "incredible gap between the reality on the ground and the rhetoric back here" is costing Bush support on the war.To which any blogger worth reading could only add "indeed."
Somehow I suspect that the rhetoric Sen. Biden is referring to is NOT media rhetoric, but what comes from the White House... If only it were otherwise. *sigh*Posted by Beth at June 15, 2005 01:59 AM
What other proof do we need. The stock market is better than any poll. Peace, prosperity and a Visa card, what more could the Iraqi people want.Posted by A Military Mom at June 20, 2005 11:12 PM
Actually, the adage should be: "Good news is no news," as far as the MSM is concerned.Posted by Brian H at June 21, 2005 06:13 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(4) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)