Accuracy in Media

The coalition victory in Iraq has thrown the liberal media into a tailspin. Vehemently opposed to the use of force before Operation Iraqi Freedom, liberal journalists and columnists are now pulling out all the stops to discredit our stunning military victory. In so doing, many are flouting what are supposed to be good journalism ethics.

Consider, for example, the U.K. leftist daily, the Guardian. It ran a story on May 31 about a meeting between Secretary of State Colin Powell and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw at the Waldorf Hotel in New York. At that meeting, the two leaders are supposed to have lamented the poor quality of intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Good story, except for the fact that the meeting never took place. In fact, Straw may not even have been in New York when the meeting was to have occurred. To its credit, the Guardian printed a correction to its story.

It has been doing a lot of that lately. The Guardian stumbled again when it reported that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told an Asian Security Conference that the war in Iraq was really all about oil. A transcript of Wolfowitz’s remarks shows that the Guardian’s quotes to support this claim were taken out of context. The Guardian printed another retraction and pulled the story from its Internet website. At least the paper acknowledges its mistakes, unlike the New York Times.

Accuracy in Media has already discussed columnist Maureen Dowd’s recent misquoting of President Bush. But now she has done it again. This time she has misquoted Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. She claimed that Wolfowitz told Vanity Fair that an “almost unnoticed, but huge” reason for the war was the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia. She has Wolfowitz asserting that would speed up Middle East peace. And she then blames that announcement for the subsequent al Qaeda attack in Saudi Arabia that killed eight Americans. Except that is not what Wolfowitz said. He was responding to a question about the consequences of the Iraq war and their implications for the war on terror. Deliberately or otherwise, Dowd confused cause and effect.

Or take the New York Times’ coverage of a recent survey of global attitudes toward the U.S. after the war. According to Times’ reporter Christopher Marquis, the survey revealed “deepening international skepticism” and “growing disappointment or suspicion” of President Bush and the U.S. Marquis also reported that “favorable views of the U.S. have declined in nearly every country since last summer.”

What Marquis doesn’t report is that in comparison to polls taken in March 2003 just before the war, U.S. ratings have gone back up dramatically in every country surveyed. The ratings in most of these countries are nearly back up where they were in 2002. In Pakistan, for example, the ratings are even higher. The countries with the biggest gap are France, Germany, and Russia whose political leaders were stridently opposed to the war. The biggest drop was experienced in Indonesia, itself a hotbed of al-Qaeda terrorism.

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