- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 13, 2005

When it comes to reporting on the Iraq war, the Old Media might as well be an appendage of the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party. It is astonishing how little coverage we have seen of the positive trend there over the last few months.

I realize many just chalk up the media’s emphasis on bad news as intrinsic to journalism: the attitude that if nothing goes wrong, it’s not really newsworthy. But that doesn’t wash.

How could anyone seriously contend reduced anarchy isn’t newsworthy? What could be more important than signs we might have turned the corner on the “insurgency”?

While we heard a daily drumbeat of despair and an ongoing tabulation of American dead when things looked bleaker — a look, I might add, meticulously cultivated by the Old Media — we hear nothing but thundering silence today.

How can we but conclude the media simply don’t want to promote the good news out of Iraq? But why? Obviously, they suppress good news as it vindicates their nemesis, President Bush, and incriminates them and their liberal comrades.

Think that’s unfair? Would you prefer I conclude they downplay positive developments because they abhor democracy’s march in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East? I’m straining for an alternative explanation for their one-sided coverage.

We heard barely a whisper from these naysayers about the popular uprising in Lebanon against Syrian occupation. Rather, they chose to highlight counterprotests by Hezbollah-sympathizers — as if the media were rooting against democracy and independence.

They don’t even pretend to be balanced. Remember the early anti-administration reporting during the beginning of the ground war? There were predictions of quagmire, reports we were greeted as occupiers and not liberators, exaggerated stories of museum lootings, complaints about our supply lines not keeping pace with our advancing troops, and the like.

Don’t forget the media hype over alleged coalition negligence leading to missing explosives in Al Qaqaa, nor the media’s preposterous, relentless quest to pin the Abu Ghraib abuses directly on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The most egregious example of bias involved their conspiratorial joinder with Democrats to smear Mr. Bush as a liar concerning his claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. When we failed to find large WMD stockpiles after deposing Saddam Hussein, they helped Democrats portray a global failure of intelligence (assuming the weapons weren’t there and moved before our invasion), as premeditated deception by Mr. Bush. They’ve all repeated the lie so much it became part of the “conventional wisdom.”

At present, why don’t we hear much about how we have the terrorists on the run? The Washington Times — decidedly not part of the Old Media — reported the U.S. Marines almost caught “Abu Musab Zarqawi, the most-wanted terrorist in Iraq,” and still is pursuing him. “He’s going from brush pile to brush pile just like a wet rat,” said Lt. Gen John F. Sattler.

“Big deal,” you say. “It’s only newsworthy if they capture him.” Wrong. It’s newsworthy anyway, but especially if his near capture is more than blind luck. Indeed, it appears any blind luck there was not coalition troops’, but Zarqawi’s, for managed escaping only because of poor visibility due to bad weather.

Far from serendipitous, our tightening of the noose around Zarqawi was a natural result of our earlier military successes. Gen. Sattler told The Times the “coalition has forced Zarqawi to work ‘independently’ by killing or capturing his first- and second-string lieutenants.” A media at least marginally receptive to good news from Iraq would be all over this story.

While we don’t want to prematurely “count our chickens,” it would seem a media interested in reporting, rather than coloring, the news would celebrate this story.

Similarly, how about the relative decline in American fatalities? How about reports Iraqi security forces are maturing and strengthening each day? How about recent hints that if current trends continue we could begin withdrawing substantial numbers of troops toward the year’s end?

Perhaps Gen. Sattler’s November declaration that our victory in Fallujah had “broken the back of the insurgency” was not an overstatement. Time will tell. In meanwhile, I suppose we’ll not hear much from the Old Media until the next coalition setback.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not saying the Old Media don’t want good things to happen in Iraq — but just not on President Bush’s watch.

Now that’s newsworthy.

David Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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