- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Negative media

“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 [then-Iraqi 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.”

Changing his tune

“On a campaign bus trip around Baltimore on Saturday, U.S. Senate candidate Michael S. Steele, a black Republican, told me to watch out for what Sen. Barack Obama would say in Tennessee on Sunday,” reporter Jon Ward of The Washington Times writes at the Insider Political Blog at www.washingtontimes.com.

“Mr. Obama, Illinois Democrat and the fifth black senator in U.S. history, campaigned against Lt. Gov. Steele in Bowie last week,” Mr. Ward said.

“Mr. Obama, a rising political star and potential presidential contender, tried to dissuade black Democrats from crossing party lines to vote for Mr. Steele, who has run a savvy campaign against Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who is white.

“You don’t vote for somebody because of what they look like,” Mr. Obama said Thursday.

Mr. Steele predicted that Mr. Obama’s tune might change in Tennessee, when he campaigned for Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr., a black Democrat running for U.S. Senate.

Sure enough, Mr. Obama used racial politics while stumping for Mr. Ford at a black church Sunday.

” ‘I’m feeling lonely in Washington,’ Mr. Obama told worshippers at Mt. Zion Baptist in Nashville, according to the Associated Press. ‘I need my dear friend to join me.’ ”

Bias? What bias?

“According to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, if Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Harold E. Ford Jr. loses Tuesday, you can blame it on white conservatives,” Brad Wilmouth reports at NewsBusters.org, commenting on the Senate race in Tennessee.

Recent polls show Mr. Ford trailing Republican Bob Corker, a former mayor of Chattanooga.

Why? Fear, says Mr. Matthews: “The larger the black population, where the whites are afraid historically, and in Deep South states, they tend to become very conservative Republican out of fear, whatever, of an overwhelming, or a large number of African-Americans because of the kind of culture.”

Not that Mr. Matthews — a Philadelphia native and former Democratic congressional staffer — has any biases of his own, as NewsBusters’ Mark Finkelstein reports. During an interview yesterday morning on NBC’s “Today” show, Meredith Vieira asked Mr. Matthews why he was smiling.

“Because I think it’s going to be a wipeout,” Mr. Matthews said. “I think the Democrats are going to carry the House by 20-some, high 20s, and I think the Senate seats are perhaps not six, but five, and I can see a big victory for the Democrats.”

Show that ID

Missouri’s chief elections official said yesterday she was asked for photo identification at the voting booth despite a court ruling striking down the requirement.

“I’m guessing this may be happening in other parts of the state,” said Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat who had opposed Republican efforts to mandate a photo ID in Missouri.

She said that a worker at the St. Louis Election Board asked her three times to show photo ID when she went to cast an absentee ballot Friday.

Miss Carnahan said that she tried to explain a photo ID was not necessary, but that the election worker replied that she was instructed to ask for one anyway. Miss Carnahan said she eventually was allowed to vote without displaying a photo identification.

“To have that experience personally was very troubling,” she said.

The Missouri Supreme Court last month upheld a lower court’s ruling overturning a law that would have required voters to show a photo ID issued by the state or federal government.

Scott Leiendecker, the Republican director of the St. Louis Election Board, did not immediately return a call yesterday, the Associated Press reports.

Miss Carnahan said she spoke with Mr. Leiendecker, who assured her that the identification requirements would be clarified and that voters on Election Day would not be pressed to present a photo ID.

Muslim voters

A Muslim group says it has been phoning Muslims nationwide to remind them to go to the polls today.

“The calls are being heavily targeted towards districts where there is a large Muslim population and heavy Muslim turnout could make a significant difference in the elections. Virginia, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas are a few states that have been targeted,” the Muslim American Society said in an e-mail, referring to what it calls the Freedom Foundation Center for Electoral Empowerment.

The group said its callers are offering transportation to the polls.

“Callers are reminding Muslims that such important issues as the war in Iraq, civil liberties, immigration, health care, education and economic justice will be greatly impacted by the November 7th elections,” the group said.

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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