Monday, March 24, 2008

Media Excuses, Ware Reality

Recent polls show Americans are not as concerned about the Iraq war.... why?

Perhaps this has something to do with their flagging attention, "The War Endures, but Where's the Media?" (NYTimes)

That's right, as recently as the middle of last year.... around "surge" time.... "it was still the most-covered topic. Since then, Iraq coverage by major American news sources has plummeted, to about one-fifth of what it was last summer."

The policy debate in Washington has almost disappeared from the news.... made obvious by the media's ignoring of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's major policy speeches on the war and national security last week.

The media wants to roll around in the muck of Rev. Wright's rejected comments, or Bill Clinton's musings that John McCain and Hillary Clinton are patriots.... plainly implying that Obama is not.

Just how does this smear-touchy-feely coverage inform the public on what the presidential candidates propose on vital issues like the slogging-in-place quagmire of the Iraq war, the dangerous state of our quickly unraveling economy and the out-of-control cost and out-of-reach availability of medical care and health insurance for tens of millions U.S. citizens?

This month marks both the 5th anniversary of an unwinnable Iraq war that is gutting our nation's military, economic health, and standing in the world.... and the horrific casualty benchmark from that war.... now a mournful 4,000 of our brave troops.

Yet, while news organizations say that the last six months have been safer for U.S. troops.... with statistics and reports spoon-fed to them by the White House.... they also say in the same breath that "violence against journalists makes reporting on Iraq costly and difficult.... the risks have forced news organizations to hire private security forces and Iraqi employees who can go places that Westerners cannot safely explore."

"From the start of the war through 2005, journalists and their support workers were killed in Iraq at a rate of one every 12 days.... in 2006 and 2007, the rate was one every eight days. Most of those killed have been Iraqis."

So.... which is it? Are things less deadly in Iraq or not? Or, is the expense of covering the war the driving factor in the lack of coverage? Easier to just take the war stories dished up by the Bush administration perhaps.

And, while we're on the subject.... what does straight talking, on-the-spot-in-the-middle-of-Baghdad-since-before-the-war reporter, CNN's Michael Ware, have to say about the lagging public interest.

In a recent interview (YouTube) with Bill Maher, Ware asked why would the public want to watch an Iraq horror show every night. He points out that regardless of what the "used car salesman" tries to tell us, only about 2 percent of the violence is caused by al Qaeda, that they are just used as the sales pitch to justify our presence.... this war has handed Iraq to Iran on a platter.

He further points out that the "surge" is working because besides more boots on the ground, we're bribing 70,000 militia every month so they'll sit on their hands.... for now.... and, that the neighborhoods are quieter because they've been ethnically cleansed.

But, he also warns that leaving would impact on our economy because unchecked militias on both sides of the civil war would go after the oil.

So, whether or not it started out as the reason... in deference to those of you still clinging to the ever-changing fairy tales of justification.... it's becoming increasingly clear that oil is why we're staying.

The media can make its excuses.... but they're not reporting on Iraq because the presidential campaign circus is in town and all three rings are the current freak show.

As Ware said, in Iraq at least, al Qaeda is so yesterday.

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