A Rejoinder to the Media-Bashing

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Rejoinder to the Media-Bashing

Frustrated with the situation in Iraq, the Bush crew has resorted to media-bashing. Slate.com's John Dickerson responds with a commentary piece whose headline says it all: The Good News From Iraq: We can't hear it — the bombs are too loud.

Dickerson writes:
Press-bashing only highlights the administration's insufficient response to the underlying problem. When the basement is flooded, no one wants to hear complaints about not getting credit for the shiny new roof.

It also does the administration no good when its allies challenge the professionalism of reporters in Iraq. Sixty-seven international journalists have died there along with 24 translators, drivers, and other support personnel — more than died in 20 years of fighting in Vietnam.

The complaints also turn genuine media efforts to show the positive side of the war into farce when reality intrudes. In the middle of taping an NBC piece about a new school opening, a bomb went off, and as Bob Dole praised Fox for showing the positive side of Iraq this week, the other half of the network's split screen showed a burning truck.

Of course, reporters trying to cover the good news in Iraq face a formidable obstacle — in the continual and overwhelming bad news. Journalists are kept busy covering explosions, mass killings, reprisals, and kidnappings, which a recent State Department report called "a daily occurrence throughout all regions and sectors of society."

They also have to worry constantly about getting shot, blown up, or taken hostage themselves whenever they leave their compounds. The perpetually worsening violence makes administration officials feel they have to push the good news to counterbalance it. But [the worsening violence] also makes it nearly impossible for the press to get out and see what else is happening.

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