Accuracy in Media

On December 8th CBSNews.com reported that Pentagon figures showed the 5,500 U.S. Servicemen had deserted since the Iraq war started. But there is a problem with taking the numbers at face value. The Army and Navy report figures not just for the servicemen deserting in those years but those that are registered as deserters at the time of the report. The Marine Corps doesn’t record deserters, but incidents, implying a soldier can desert, return and then desert again. The soldier would then be counted twice. As a result the numbers the Marine Corps reported in 2003 and 2004 were exactly the same. I don’t know what the real figures are, but suffice it to say that the Pentagon numbers are at the high end and that the number of deserters is actually far lower than what CBS News reported.

You would think that after the Rathergate incident that the media would try and verify the CBS report before taking it as fact. When I did a search on the internet, though, every story that I looked at used the 5,500 number and cited CBS as the source.  Instead of questioning the numbers the media took this at face value and many hailed the deserters as heroes! Now take a look at the desertion figures from previous years. In 2001 it was 6,796, in 2002, 6,529 and in 2003, 7,165 so the latest figures released are lower since the war started not higher as the CBS report would have you believe. 

Can we expect CBS News or the rest of the mainstream media correct the record? Based on the comments made after the Rathergate report was released I wouldn’t bet on it.  It doesn’t fit their agenda.

I want to thank Wilbert Geijtenbeek from the Netherlands for bringing this to my attention.




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