FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE

Monday

What qualifies as "news?"

It’s interesting to watch mainstream media types respond when questioned about their liberal bias. There really is nothing comparable to a reporter trying to squirm and weasel their way around targeted questions regarding their alleged “objectivity.”

Such was the case this weekend on “Reliable Sources” with Howard Kurtz. Kurtz introduced the segment by reporting that September brought a sharp decline in causalities in Iraq. Kurtz correctly pointed out that ABC was the only major network to make this a lead story. Other media outlets buried it deep inside the pages of their newspaper and confined it to a few brief sentences. Other outlets ignored the news altogether.

Progress is being made in Iraq, and many media outlets have chosen to neglect the great news!

Kurtz wanted to find out why. His guests were Robin Wright of the Washington Post and Barbara Starr of CNN. The YouTube video of the exchange can be found here. But, here is the transcript:

KURTZ: Joining us now to put this into perspective, Robin Wright, who covers national security for The Washington Post. And CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

Robin Wright, should that decline in Iraq casualties have gotten more media attention?

ROBIN WRIGHT: Not necessarily. The fact is we're at the beginning of a trend -- and it's not even sure that it is a trend yet. There is also an enormous dispute over how to count the numbers. There are different kinds of deaths in Iraq.

There are combat deaths. There are sectarian deaths. And there are the deaths of criminal -- from criminal acts. There are also a lot of numbers that the U.S. frankly is not counting. For example, in southern Iraq, there is Shiite upon Shiite violence, which is not sectarian in the Shiite versus Sunni. And the U.S. also doesn't have much of a capability in the south.

So the numbers themselves are tricky. Long-term, General Odierno, who was in town this week, said he is looking for irreversible momentum, and that, after two months, has not yet been reached.

Let’s pause right here. Wright claims that the numbers are “tricky.” That’s funny. The numbers don’t seem too “tricky” when they are reporting INCREASES in casualties. The numbers didn’t seem too “tricky” when the media (including Wright’s own Washington Post) touted the discredited Lancet Study of Iraq casualties.

But, if they are indeed “tricky” I guess that more research needs to be done to clarify them, which means that reporters need to do their damn job and actually research them.

Instead, Wright uses a word like “tricky” to basically discredit the report of decreased casualties. For her, “tricky” is synonymous with “unreliable.”

She also mentions that an alleged reduction in casualties doesn’t point to a trend. I fail to see why this is even relevant. Trend or not, a vast reduction in war casualties IS MAJOR NEWS! And, it deserves much more attention than a few brief sentences.

The interview continued:

KURTZ: Barbara Starr, CNN did mostly quick reads by anchors of these numbers. There was a taped report on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." Do you think this story deserved more attention? We don't know whether it is a trend or not but those are intriguing numbers.

BARBARA STARR: But that's the problem, we don't know whether it is a trend about specifically the decline in the number of U.S. troops being killed in Iraq. This is not enduring progress. This is a very positive step on that potential road to progress.

Stop. She just said that “this is not enduring progress.” Who the hell is Barbara Starr to make this judgment? How does she know that this reduction in casualties will not continue? How does she know that this progress will not endure? She doesn’t.

Kurtz appropriately called the reporters on their double-standard.

KURTZ: But let's say that the figures had shown that casualties were going up for U.S. soldiers and going up for Iraqi civilians. I think that would have made some front pages.

STARR: Oh, I think inevitably it would have. I mean, that's certainly -- that, by any definition, is news. Look, nobody more than a Pentagon correspondent would like to stop reporting the number of deaths, interviewing grieving families, talking to soldiers who have lost their arms and their legs in the war. But, is this really enduring progress?

We've had five years of the Pentagon telling us there is progress, there is progress. Forgive me for being skeptical, I need to see a little bit more than one month before I get too excited about all of this.

So, let’s recap. A reduction in casualties in Iraq is not news. We don’t even know if it is a “trend,” so obviously the media can’t treat it as a credible report. However, an increase in casualties is the definition of news! They don’t need to do more research or hold a skeptical view of reports of increased casualties. Those numbers aren’t “tricky” at all. No. Those deserve to be headline stories.

FYI – Wright and Starr are essentially saying that these reports of decreased causalities are unreliable. They question their validity with statements like “the numbers themselves are tricky,” “we don't know whether it is a trend,” and “I need to see a little bit more than one month before I get too excited about all of this.”

They suggest that they need more information or more evidence before they start treating these reports as real news.

That’s certainly an interesting sentiment when you consider the following:
- Dan Rather and the forged documents
- The increase in “Global Warming” hurricanes that never was

- The rapes, homicides, and cannibalism during Hurricane Katrina that never actually happened
- The Duke Rape case
- The aforementioned Lancet Study
- $5.00/gallon gas prices

This list could go on for a while. But, the point is that the media makes a habit of headlining stories which turn out to be completely unreliable. The difference is that these particular stories fit their agenda. More research wasn’t necessary. Skepticism wasn't necessary. The validity of these stories was unquestionably trust-worthy.

But, when war casualties drop, and success is on the horizon in a war that they adamantly oppose, any reports of progress are met with harsh skepticism and doubt. These stories don’t fit the narrative they are trying to create.

Bias? What bias?

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