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There was a brief moment – remember? – when it looked as if the megamedia were going to make amends for having operated as a wide-open spigot for the propaganda of the Cheney-Bush administration in the Global War on Terror™ and actually do their job: finding the truth. For that brief moment, it wasn’t just Knight Ridder (later McClatchy) doing the heavy lifting in covering the Iraq war and occupation. Now we’re back to business as usual.

You can see what’s been happening quantifiably thanks to the graphic below from the Pew Research Center on People and the Press (based on data from the Project for Excellence in Journalism). Of course, this doesn’t say anything about the quality of the recent coverage. Nor does it point out that, however good or bad the coverage has been, the bulk of it has appeared on page A10, or beyond. Indeed, more evidence for the death of irony, the news of the Pew survey itself was on page A12 of today's Washington Post. As for television coverage, well, pffffflllbt.

As Scott Keeter and Robert Suls at Pew note, this reduced amount of coverage has been accompanied by a reduction in one measure of people’s awareness of what is happening in Iraq: knowing how many Americans in uniform have died there. Last August, 54% of those polled could correctly put the number of fatalities at around 3500. In the current poll, only 28% could correctly answer the question: "Since the start of military action in Iraq, about how many U.S. military personnel have been killed? To the best of your knowledge, have there been, around 2000, 3000, 4000, or 5000 troop deaths?"

(The actual figure, as of today, is 3987, as calculated by the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, the volunteers who have been doing an excellent job of keeping tabs on the situation since July 2003.)

Keeter and Suls write:

The drop in awareness comes as press attention to the war has waned. According to the News Content Index conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, the percentage of news stories devoted to the war has sharply declined since last year, dropping from an average of 15% of the newshole in July to just 3% in February.

As news coverage of the war has diminished, so too has public interest in news about Iraq. According to Pew's News Interest Index survey, Iraq was the public's most closely followed news story in all but five weeks during the first half of 2007; however, it was a much less dominant story between July 2007 and February 2008. Notably, the Iraq war has not been the public's top weekly story since mid-October.

Along with declining interest in news about Iraq, a Pew poll last month found a significant increase in the number of Americans who believe that military progress is being made in Iraq.

That previous Pew poll kindled a report Wednesday at Politico by David Paul Kuhn saying that since support for the war is higher than it’s been since 2006, Senator McCain is going to benefit if the eventual Democratic nominee argues in favor of withdrawal.

The uptick in public support is a promising sign for Republican candidates who have been bludgeoned over the Bush administration’s war policies. But no candidate stands to gain more than McCain.

"How could Democrats possibly hand McCain a better issue than to let him run on his record of advocating a robust U.S. presence in Iraq with all the positive battlefield news that is filtering out of that country?" asked Michael O’Hanlon, a national security adviser at the Brookings Institution who has been at the center of the Iraq debate since the war’s outset.

The inimitable Glenn Greenwald eviscerates the Politico story and O’Hanlon’s view today in his regular blog at Greenwald points out that, whether Americans know how many of their fellow citizens have been killed in Iraq or not, most polls show continued opposition to the war and a desire to get out. In the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll, released today:

Which would be better for the United States?

Keep a significant number of troops in Iraq until the situation there gets better: 35%

Set a timetable for removing troops and stick to it regardless of what is going on in Iraq: 60%

Among those who support withdrawal:
 30% Withdraw troops as soon as possible
 69% Set a timetable for gradual withdrawal

Most telling in light of the view that allegedly changing attitudes mean good news for McCain is Greenwald’s coda:

Less than a week ago, Democrat Bill Foster was elected to Congress in Denny Hastert's long-time, bright red district in Illinois. The centerpiece of his campaign was opposition to the Iraq war, and he defeated a pro-war candidate whose policies mirrored those of John McCain. Might that development have merited a mention by The Politico in this piece? Public opinion on the Iraq War is "re-shaping the political landscape" alright -- just in exactly the opposition direction as Kuhn claimed here.

Given the rotten megamedia coverage of the Iraq war and occupation, it’s no doubt true and no surprise that most Americans aren’t aware that there are perhaps a million Iraqis dead, millions wounded, millions in exile or displaced inside the country, an economy in shambles, public amenities still far worse than in the worst days of Saddam Hussein, and a political solution nowhere in sight.

And even though most Americans don’t seem to know this is a $3 trillion war, with U.S. fatalities on the cusp of 4000 (and casualties over 30,000, with spin-off consequences touching hundreds of thousands of kin, friends and co-workers of those deployed to Iraq), the majority of people in this country are not keen on the prospect of a hundred years’ war. They want the troops to come home and they want the government to do something about the mess made by Cheney-Bush and cronies.

If John McCain’s campaign team wants to run on sticking it out forever and a day in Iraq, then, in the notorious words of the man whose legacy of death and destruction McCain embraces, I say, "bring ‘em on."

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 03:56 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks (5+ / 0-)

    What was the likely outcome of a spineless Congress and cowardly Presidential candidates (I include Hillary AND Obama on Iraq)? This.

    •  glad to see this on the FP (6+ / 0-)

      I posted a diary about this around 5PM and it slid down the list real quick....

    •  I have said this before, will say again (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The post and pre-911 mentality of the GOP are an interesting set of ideas. Before 9/11 they stated that the Democrats were irrational in their obsession with al Qaida and with terrorism in general.  The GOP was against the Democrat’s anti-terrorism bills that updated FISA, called for tagging explosives, called for locked reinforced doors on the cockpits of commercial airliners and called for armed US Marshals on commercial flights. Had the GOP taken the Democrats seriously back then, there would not have been a 9/11 in the first place and so no war in neither Afghanistan nor in Iraq. The GOP contention that a realistic look at the decisions by individual politicians is anti-American-blame America first needs a closer look.  When Bill Clinton tried to get the GOP Congress to help the United States combat terrorism they countered that it was all politics, that he was wagging the dog so to say, they did everything in their power to undermine a sitting President in a lethal battle. They pursued an impeachment trial on the flimsiest of reasons while he was trying to hunt down bin Laden.  It seems that while the Democrats were obsessed with terrorism and bin Laden, the GOP was obsessed with Monica and a blowjob.  Their inane penchant to politically correct ideas of patriotism being judged by the pins they wear on their lapels and how tightly they wrap the flag around themselves and how devoted they are to the presidency falls to dust the minute a Democratic president is elected. .  The conservatives think that because there has been no attack on this continent since 9/11 that it means this administration has protected us from attack, but after the first attack on the twin towers the terrorists planned for eight and a half years before they attacked again and they are planning today for the next attack, but they are in Pakistan and Afghanistan, not in Iraq

      The Bush Administration and the GOP continually ignored the intelligence from our allies warning us that bin Laden was planning a strike using commercial airliners.  Before 9/11 you could not get a conservative to take terrorism seriously.   Bin Laden’s al Qaida had already declared war on the US and bragged that they were going to manipulate the United States into invading two or more Islamic nations so that we would deplete our treasury, destroy our military and that they would do their best to keep us at war for decades.  It is a trap that the current conservatives have gleefully fallen into. The GOP likes to taunt the Democrats as giving in to the terrorists by the Democrats desire to end the wild goose chase in Iraq, but it is the GOP who have placed our national security in the hands of the terrorists by staying in Iraq and insisting that the events on the ground, which are controlled by al Qaida, should be our guide.

      The invasion of Afghanistan was not done by the conservatives but by the intelligence agencies and had we not diverted our attention to Iraq we would have succeeded by now in diminishing the terrorists and have quelled the rush to join them.

      The rush to war in Iraq under false premises, the incompetent prosecution of the occupation, the lack of security for four years and the complete lack of diplomacy to this very day has more than emboldened the terrorists, it is the very reason that the terrorists have been able to rebuild to stronger than pre-9/11 strengths.  The GOP contention that we should fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here is both asinine in its insistence that al Qaida in Iraq, which did not exist until the invasion, was going to come here to battle us before they existed, and in that the idea of drawing terrorists into Iraq for four years before they started chasing them out of Iraq is in any way connected to the terrorist movement that attacked us on 9/11.
      The Bush strategy in the first four and a half years was that of purposefully attracting terrorists into Iraq where they have murdered, according to the World Health Organization, more than 600,000 Iraqis.  The invasion of Iraq is perhaps the worst policy decision in the history of this nation; it was exactly what Osama bin Laden had only dreamed of, the fools had taken the bait hook, line and sinker.  The policies of the Bush Administration and the GOP congress in its response to 9/11 are tantamount to a complete surrender to the terrorists in their insistence that the American people be terrorized and succumb to fear and in doing exactly what bin Laden wanted, to invade Iraq.  They insist that the situation on the ground, which is controlled by the terrorists and the insurgents, is what should control our national security and foreign policy.

      The conservative judgment that even though the war in Iraq is causing us to lose the wider conflict against the terrorists, dividing our allies, destroying our military, draining our treasury and strengthening our enemies, that we still need to support the blunder to its illogical and disastrous conclusion in order to save face for their party. The GOP thought that invading Iraq after they invaded Afghanistan would put Iran in a pincer surrounded by US allied democratic nations. It was a naïve policy and attained the opposite of the desired outcome, now Iran has more influence in the region than it has had in centuries, and it will take centuries to repair the damage.   The GOP contends that withdrawing from Iraq is surrendering to the terrorist, yet the successes from the surge have come from the fact that only one thing has brought all sides together in Iraq, and that is their mutual hatred of al Qaida.  If the US redeployed to Afghanistan and left Iraq, the Iraqis would kill any al Qaida that did not follow us there.  The terrorists want us in Iraq, they have done everything in their powers to keep us there, and America leaving Iraq would be a fatal blow to their movement. The Iraq War is off mission, we need to end this blunder and get back to hunting down the 9/11 terrorists who are still planning attacks on us.

      Swift Goat Pets For Truth

      by Amayupta yo on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 06:15:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  McBV$H 2008! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "It's better to die on your feet then live on your knees" E. Zapata

    by Blutodog on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:00:17 PM PDT

  •  Re:Foster then again maybe the Voters in That (0+ / 0-)

    District don't rely on TradMed.

    Be careful what you shoot at, most things in here don't react well to bullets-Sean Connery .... Captain Marko Ramius -Hunt For Red October

    by JML9999 on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:01:02 PM PDT

  •  It's shameful that the MSM is ignoring (8+ / 0-)

    both wars. clammychad a good diary earlier on precisely why it keeps being ignored.

    The Democratic Congress is now divided into three parts: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.

    by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:01:40 PM PDT

    •  I had to stop myself hitting the keyboard when (7+ / 0-)

      I read that:

      President Bush let his inner adventurer out while discussing the state of the war in Afghanistan with military and civilian personnel. While those in Afghanistan detailed the logistical and diplomatic problems via teleconference, the President took a much more whimsical approach to their mission. Via Reuters:

         "I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."

         "It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," Bush said.

      Romanticism? Is the man hitting the bottle again? Getting hit by bullets and IEDs is now considered romantic? WTF?

      The Democratic Congress is now divided into three parts: igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.

      by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:18:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's an indication of the size (5+ / 0-)

        of Georgie's bubble. Who can make jokes about not finding WMDs, about Scooter Libby outing a covert CIA agent and about Cheney withholding public documents? Who can look at what war coverage we do get and romanticize it like that?  Shit, if he wanted that "wonderful" experience, he had the chance in Vietnam but he made Daddy give him a pass.

        Barack Obama - I'll never see the threat of terrorism as a way to scare up votes, it's a threat that should rally this country against our common enemies

        by madgranny on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:26:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  IIRC, around the time that Bush (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Asinus Asinum Fricat

      started the surge, the Pentagon took on a new PR role. My thought at the time was, "They can't manage the war, so they'll manage the message".  Apparently that has worked really well.

      Barack Obama - I'll never see the threat of terrorism as a way to scare up votes, it's a threat that should rally this country against our common enemies

      by madgranny on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:22:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What's really sad is the winger take on this (2+ / 0-)

      Spent some time on the news comment sections today after this came out.  The general thought went like this: the reason there was no news coverage was because it was all good news so the liberal lefty commie press wasn't going to say anything.  Of course, as one commenter pointed out.... if that was the case, then wouldn't FOX news be all over it and filled with stories of success. of course the rebutal to that was it just proved that fox news was just as liberal as the rest of them.  At that point I blew diet coke out my nose and had to go get some paper towels to clean it up.

  •  Terrific analysis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jgtidd, RickMassimo

    Really cogent and clear and important.

    Minor gripe - the use of "mega."

    Mega means "one million" not big.

    It came into use meaning big or great when the term "megaton bomb" - that is Million ton (impact of force) bomb - became known in the 1960s. Since then others have taken it to indicate anything big.

    Megamedia is a new use to me - guess I'm trying to nip it in the bud.

  •  At my gym yesterday, a woman asked me why the (8+ / 0-)

    American people aren't in the streets demanding an end to this war the way they did back during Vietnam and I reminded her that we had actual nightly news coverage as that horrific invasion unfolded before our eyes.  We heard about the casualties and journalists like Dan Rather were on the ground with the troops on the lines.  We saw that war from a unique perspective.  We weren't told to believe it was progressing beautifully and we should all go shopping and we also had a draft that was placing every young American male who was eligible in harm's way.

    My.  How times have changed.  And, obviously, only for the better if you own stock in the military industrial complex or oil.

  •  Media's focus should be on November (0+ / 0-)

    I'll disagree to the extent that the media's real focus right now should be on making sure that the Democrats get elected in November. Everything else should be secondary. That's their job: to make sure that our party wins.
    -Trevor Wynne
    Washhington, DC

  •  Greenwald is a great antidote to MSM drivel (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, rrheard

    He, Rachel Maddow, KO, Jack Cafferty and too few others.

  •  Out of sight out of mind (0+ / 0-)

    Some of the decline in coverage can be explained by the media's focus on the primaries, but the near complete lack of coverage of the deteriorating situation in Iraq is unfathomable.

    "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:04:40 PM PDT

  •  Reason #578 why we need to get a nominee NOW; (0+ / 0-)

    and get on with discussing serious issues!

    (Are you listening, Hillary?)

  •  This is why (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, moosely2006

    I wish candidate Obama would spend somewhat less time reminding us about his stance in 2003, and more about his perceptions as to where we're at in 2008. He's actually in a remarkable position to lead public opinion on this topic.

  •  The broken record continues (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    First priority when we get the presidency and a majority in both houses is to liberate the press.

    Without them, we're toast.

    With them...

    ...there's hope.

    Change the media ownership laws and reinstate the Fairness Doctrine

    by moosely2006 on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:05:17 PM PDT

  •  I just saw this in jimstaro's diary (5+ / 0-)

    twenty eight fucking percent

    We should be embarrassed and ashamed as a nation.

    To me, the absolute most important issue ANY of us has, and this nation has, is that we are currently being ruled by a gang of immoral war criminals. -Hornito

    by discocarp on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:06:59 PM PDT

  •  If it aint on teevee, it dont exist. (5+ / 0-)

    Look what happened when they didn't say the word "Edwards" after Iowa.

  •  But winning requires MSM coverage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If there is a constant MSM drumbeat that says everything is OK in Iraq but Dems continue to endanger us by being soft on terrorists at home (FISA), then we may well lose.  The MSM must be held accountable in order for ordinary voters to have a chance to sort all this out.

  •  I know why the press isn't covering the (0+ / 0-)

    quagmire: they want either upbeat, fast breaking, or sex news in order to sell newspapers and ads on TV. Iraq is none of the above, plus they'd have admit that the President was wrong and was right.  Far too painful, so shove it all into the closet.

    I remember when the word went to the press that they should 'emphasize that we are getting out of Vietnam'.  It was really well done, subtile, barely perceptable I thought. Of course it was lie, but people quieted down a lot.

    We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions." Pentagon Chief Counsel Haynes on military tribrunals in Gitmo.

    by sailmaker on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:12:21 PM PDT

  •  The Bush strategy is working. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mrblifil, timbuck

    The strategy was to tell the american people that nothing about the war was going to affect THEM...if you weren't the five percent of people in the military or their families, and not a future generation saddled with debt, it wasn't your problem.

    News covers what people WANT to see.

    I think news coverage shows that as long as our troops are only dying by the "onesies and twosies" as Rummy put it, they assume it's being worked out somehow.

    Does HRC expect McCain to return the compliment and say she's met the CinC Threshold?

    by Inland on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:12:26 PM PDT

  •  How about roadside signs? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The "IMPEACH" effort got some visibility a while back - and inspired some backlash..... but

    3974 Dead, 29,395 Wounded * - Don't Forget with an American flag?

    * from:

    Anyone going to object to that?

  •  Have you ever thought (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of getting back behind the editors desk, MB? We sure could use someone who gives a damn about what's really happening out there.

  •  we're still in Iraq???!?!?!?!?! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I thought the surge was a huge success and we got the hell out of there?  I thought gas going up to $4 was a victory tax.  I musta missed something.

  •  What about Afghanistan? (4+ / 0-)

    The Iraq war seems to be getting all of the press. What about those of us that have fought and made the ultimate sacrifice in the "Forgotten War" in Afghanistan?

  •  asdf (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, Translator

    I have updated my signature line for years here on Dailykos.  I don't know if anyone noticed, but there is nothing sadder than having to change that number just about every day.  You feel relief when you don't have to change it.  You feel your stomach in knots when you have to change it substantially.  Maybe everyone should check that number every single day.  In fact I think that number should be at the bottom of the screen of every news segment.

    * 3987 *

    by BDA in VA on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:31:30 PM PDT

  •  That trendline (0+ / 0-)

    looks almost like Bush's approval rating.  I do not understand what is going on with the media, but it is not good.  The second most important issue of the day, and it gets that little coverage (the most important one being the coming hard times, that will result in more deaths and casualties, I fear).  But have no fear, Spitz is here.  Warmest regards, Doc.

    Sometimes I feel like Robert Louis Stevenson created me. -6.25, -6.05

    by Translator on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 04:32:15 PM PDT

  •  serious question: (0+ / 0-)
    the recent comments by jeremiah wright, obama's pastor is being used against him.

    how should obama respond to this situation?

  •  Well said! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades

    Thanks for the great article. Hopefully this Thursday when Iraq Veterans Against the War begin the "Winter Soldier" conference sharing the horrors of combat with the public, some in the press will take notice.  Maybe they will learn as I did during the Vietnam War that undeclared wars in which Americans are lied to, are utterly evil.  Nor can there be any forgiveness for a nation which refuses to honor peace over war sending its young men and women needlessly to their deaths.

  •  cheney and his ilk will steal the oil money if it (0+ / 0-)

    just lays around:

    WASHINGTON - Iraq is not spending much of its own money, despite soaring oil revenues that are pushing the country toward a massive budget surplus, U.S. auditors told Congress on Tuesday.

    The expected surplus comes as the U.S. continues to invest billions of dollars in rebuilding Iraq and faces a financial squeeze domestically because of record oil prices.

    the opportunity to loot these funds is why we are in iraq and that is not getting enough media attention.

    •  That is Dumb ! (0+ / 0-)

      That is Dumb comment, provide any documented proof to back up your statement where Bush or Chenney was able to steal money from a country's bank account.

      As usual more KOSsack BS that has no proof or reality in facts !!!

  •  It's the economy, stupid (0+ / 0-)

    The economy has overshadowed Iraq as the #1 concern of Americans.  If Obama can concentrate on that and use it to his advantage, then he will beat McCain in November.  THEN Obama will pull the plug in Iraq and bring the troops home.

  •  Lies by Omission (0+ / 0-)

    --- cut & paste everywhere ---

    They lied to me
    They lied to you
    They lied to our troops

    --- cut & paste everywhere ---

  •  Heaven Forbid ! (0+ / 0-)

    Yes, heaven forbid you start reporting good news from Iraq when the bad news has dropped so exponentially !!!

    But Don't Worry, when the big pullout starts somewhere between the start and the end of the withdrawal the violence will spike big time into an all out civil war.

    Then there will be plenty of news about Iraq and BHO war policy.

  •  Only 3987 in Five Years ? (0+ / 0-)


    Bush must be a great Commander-in-Chief considering:

    President Truman & Kennedy/Johnson with 5793 combat deaths per year in Korea and Vietnam?

    Thank God 24987 USA troops are still alive after a 5 year war!!!!

  •  If this election does nothing else,.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it should force heavy public discussion of this nation's Iraq policies. Still, I am sure the by-and-large neocon controlled megamedia will do their best to lie, prevaricate, and continue their propaganda flow.

    Our task then, is to not only discredit old man McCain, but also to finally put the neocon controlled media in their place (which should be prison..) once and for all. This nation can no longer afford their treason, and certainly, neither can the children and other citizens of Iraq.


    by Hornito on Thu Mar 13, 2008 at 09:54:42 PM PDT

  •  End War Now (0+ / 0-)

    We had no business there; we have no solution now. We created a vacuum of power and have no way of fixing something that we should never have been a part of. We should hold responsible those who brought this about. We certainly should not hold hostage the people of Iraq because someday we might have a plan.

  •  lies, damn lies, and polls (0+ / 0-)

    You all realize, of course, that if you're given 4 choices (2k, 3k, 4k and 5k deaths) and 28% pick the right answer, than as few as 3% of respondents might actually know the answer.  That's the worst case, though.  Say that half of the people THINK they know the answer, and 28% of them are right, another half make a WAG.  Statistically 1/4 of the WAG-ers will chose the right answer, and the number of people who actually KNOW the answer is half of 28%...or 14%.

  •  One of our sociology professors (0+ / 0-)

    asked his class (30 students, 25 undergrad, 5 grad) the number of American dead in Iraq.  One knew.  Asked about American casualties, Iraqi dead, Iraqi casualties, Iraqi displacements, etc - none knew.

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