Mistakes In Lead-Up To Iraq War Happening Again?

This is an interesting read from the usually perceptive and left-leaning media commentator Norman Solomon. In this opinion piece, Solomon argues that the way the media is treating the option of pulling out of Iraq is similar to the way the existence of WMDs was treated at the beginning of the conflict. Here are some excerpts:

The WMD spin was in sync with official sources and other establishment-sanctified experts, named and unnamed. The anti-pullout spin is in sync with official sources and other establishment-sanctified experts, named and unnamed.

During the weeks since the midterm election, the New York Times news coverage of Iraq policy options has often been heavy-handed, with carefully selective sourcing for prefab conclusions. Already infamous is the Nov. 15 front-page story by Michael Gordon under the headline "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say." A similar technique was at play Dec. 1 with yet another "News Analysis," this time by reporter David Sanger, headlined "The Only Consensus on Iraq: Nobody's Leaving Right Now."

Solomon ends with this harsh and damning conclusion on the reporting of the Iraq war:

Viewing the horrors of present-day Iraq with star-spangled eyes, New York Times reporters John Burns and Kirk Semple wrote -- in the lead sentence of a front-page "News Analysis" on Nov. 29 -- that "American military and political leverage in Iraq has fallen sharply."

The second paragraph of the Baghdad-datelined article reported: "American fortunes here are ever more dependent on feuding Iraqis who seem, at times, almost heedless to American appeals."

The third paragraph reported: "It is not clear that the United States can gain new traction in Iraq..."

And so it goes -- with U.S. media obsessively focused on such concerns as "American military and political leverage," "American fortunes" and whether "the United States can gain new traction in Iraq."

With that kind of worldview, no wonder so much news coverage is serving nationalism instead of journalism.

Although Solomon is very much opposed to the war, and certainly has a bias of his own, I think his comments here are valuable and telling of the current state of reporting in Iraq. Does nationalism frequently get in the way of good journalism? Even if you are reporting for mainly an American audience, should you avoid presenting the news from an American viewpoint? Just a couple of thoughts here, but if you have the time, I recommend taking a look at the Solomon piece. Hopefully we won’t look back at it a year from now and find out he was right.

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