Saturday, August 07, 2004

"What About Iraq?" 

Around the time of the June 30 "hand over" of Iraqi "sovereignty," speakingcorpse and I were discussing what were going to be the practical effects of the changed situation.

Certainly, George W. Bush was going to try to claim that the U.S. was no longer an occupying force (which it still is) and that end of the occupation disaster was in sight (which it is not).

We also agreed that perhaps the biggest impact the hand over would have would be on the media’s ability to cover -- and their interest in covering -- the continuing war.

For one, with the Coalition Provisional Authority no longer in "control" of Iraq, there’d be no story line about Iraqi resistance to CPA forces. The Iraqis are now sovereign, so it’s not an Iraq-vs.-U.S. story anymore. It’s, instead, militias fighting militias and terrorists doing terrorism and all sorts of crazy wild spontaneous violence. (Never mind that, meanwhile, the Iraqi interim government crouches in a bunker inside the American Green Zone, guarded by private American security goons).

For another, now that the officially sanctioned war-show is over, there’d be no more spoon-fed military news P.R., and no more embedding, which means that news organizations that would have liked to cover what’s actually going on would have to do so on their own, with no military protection.

The result, as Paul Krugman discusses in his latest Times column ("What About Iraq?"), is that the American news media has tuned out of the conflict in Iraq just as it moves into its direst, deadliest phase. It’s simply too dangerous, expensive, and irrelevant to cover any more.
[A]fter June 28.… Iraq stories moved to the inside pages of newspapers, and largely off TV screens. Many people got the impression that things had improved. Even journalists were taken in: a number of newspaper stories asserted that the rate of U.S. losses there fell after the handoff. (Actual figures: 42 American soldiers died in June, and 54 in July.)

Need it be said that the Bush administration is thrilled by this media blind spot?

Wait? Another orange alert! Shit, looks like the war’s coming back to our shores….

(That wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?)


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