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Gingrich Slams “Liberal Media” for Reporting News

April 10th, 2008

Via Think Progress: The New York Times reported that of the Iraqi troops that went to fight in Basra, fully 1,000 either deserted or refused to fight, including dozens of officers and “at least two senior field commanders.” Newt Gingrich complained angrily to Alan Colmes:

Let me give you an example, Alan, of the stunning bias of the American news media. 15,000 Iraqi troops went in to Basra, 1,000 of them didn’t fight very well. 14,000 of them fought very well and, in fact, were defeating the militias. Guess what the report essentially was in the elite news media? It was the 1,000 that didn’t fight very well. And the 14,000 that were risking their lives on behalf of their own country, without American forces present, didn’t get very much credit.

“Stunning bias,” he says–to report that in its first major test, the Iraqi military suffered a 7% desertion/mutiny rate, including two senior field commanders? Either Newt Gingrich has such low standards and expectations for the Iraqi military that he expects such horrific rates of insubordination to be considered normal, or he’s doing what he does best: playing the “Liberal Media” card to make an embarrassment to the Republican party seem like it’s not nearly as bad as it is. And of course, the latter is true.

This is the essence of the entire “Liberal Media” lie: it is a strategy to change the rules of the game and to call a failure a success by claiming that the referees are playing unfairly. Of course a 7% desertion/mutiny rate is newsworthy; imagine if 7% of U.S. troops did that–it would be considered unthinkable. What if, when the U.S. had about 150,000 troops in Iraq during the surge, about 10,000 of them deserted or refused to do their jobs? Including a few hundred officers and a couple of generals? Could we criticize the press for covering that astounding news, and not instead focusing on the 93% of the soldiers who didn’t desert? Certainly, the Iraqi military is not up to that standard–and that’s precisely the story, that the Iraqi military is not operating up to snuff.

This is bad for Republicans, who have tried to perpetuate the fiction that Iraq is shaping up, that the government is in control, that their military is up to the challenge, that things are progressing so our troops can eventually come home, or at least some of them, and the rest won’t have to take the brunt of the combat in Iraq. News that the Iraqi military, after years of training and building up, still suffers such high desertion rates, belies that fictional portrayal, and makes Republicans who say otherwise look bad. So naturally party hacks like Gingrich have to come forward and make the same old tired claim that it’s not really so bad, it’s just that big, mean liberal media trying to make things look bad.

Remember back in the early days of the war, when Republicans tried the same thing? They protested against the liberally-biased media only focusing on the mass slaughter and deaths of American soldiers, when there were all of those new schools being opened! The irony was that the reporters actually wanted to cover those school openings–but the U.S. military warned them not to, because reports on such events would simply make the facilities a target for militias; otherwise, reporters found that going to such events was far too dangerous for them just in terms of falling prey to violence on the streets. And, as it turns out, such repairs to Iraqi infrastructure were unsuccessful overall–even after the Mahdi Army cease fire, things have continued to get worse and worse for Iraqis.

It is an old standard Republican tactic to claim that the media is slanted, and is only reporting the bad news and not the good. And it is as dishonest a lie now as it ever has been.

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  1. Tim Kane
    April 10th, 2008 at 12:50 | #1

    Here’s liberal bias: Gingrich seeks impeachment of Bill Clinton over his ‘covering up’ of his affair with Monica Lewinsky. No where do we read that Gingrich is also having an affair.

    That’s liberal bias.

  2. ykw
    April 11th, 2008 at 03:04 | #2

    I think in a civil conflict, it is good to figure out w/ each battle, who is going to fight, and who is not, and then only engage w/ those that are up to it, and leave the other’s alone. They may have been close to the militias in Basra. I don’t see this as a problem. I think the question is, “was the problem solved?” and “will iraq’s be able to solve problems like this by one method or another?”.

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