Neg­a­tive me­dia

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

“We are told by care­ful poll­sters that half of the Amer­i­can peo­ple be­lieve that Amer­i­can troops should be brought home from Iraq im­me­di­ately. This news dis­cour­ages sup­port­ers of our ef­forts there. Not me, though: I am re­lieved. Given press cov­er­age of our ef­forts in Iraq, I am sur­prised that 90 per­cent of the pub­lic do not want us out right now,” James Q. Wil­son writes in City Jour­nal.

“Be­tween Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2005, nearly 1,400 sto­ries ap­peared on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news. More than half fo­cused on the costs and prob­lems of the war, four times as many as those that dis­cussed the suc­cesses. About 40 per­cent of the sto­ries re­ported ter­ror­ist at­tacks; scarcely any re­ported the tri­umphs of Amer­i­can sol­diers and Marines. The few pos­i­tive sto­ries about progress in Iraq were just a small frac­tion of all the broad­casts,” Mr. Wil­son said.

“When the Cen­ter for Me­dia and Pub­lic Af­fairs made a non­par­ti­san eval­u­a­tion of net­work news broad­casts, it found that dur­ing the ac­tive war against [thenIraqi dic­ta­tor] Sad­dam Hus­sein, 51 per­cent of the re­ports about the con­flict were neg­a­tive. Six months af­ter the land bat­tle ended, 77 per­cent were neg­a­tive; in the 2004 gen­eral elec­tion, 89 per­cent were neg­a­tive; by the spring of 2006, 94 per­cent were neg­a­tive. This de­cline in me­dia sup­port was much faster than dur­ing Korea or Viet­nam.

“Nat­u­rally, some of the hos­tile com­men­tary re­flects the na­ture of re­port­ing. When ev­ery news out­let strug­gles to grab and hold an au­di­ence, no one should be sur­prised that this com­pe­ti­tion leads jour­nal­ists to em­pha­size bloody events. To some de­gree, the press cov­ers Iraq in much the same way that it cov­ers Amer­ica: it high­lights con­flict, shoot­ings, bomb­ings, hur­ri­canes, tor­na­does and cor­rup­tion.

“But the war cov­er­age does not re­flect merely an in­ter­est in con­flict. Peo­ple who op­pose the en­tire war on ter­ror run much of the na­tional press, and they go to great lengths to make wag­ing it dif­fi­cult.”

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