Accuracy in Media

Media bias took a back seat when the media were forced to report the huge and enthusiastic turnout in the Iraq elections. The people want freedom and democracy, which is what our troops are fighting and dying for. The stakes have been dramatized for all to see.

It had actually been forecast in advance by an ABC poll, taken in cooperation with Time magazine and released before the elections. It revealed that 70% of Iraqis say “their own lives are going well” and close to two-thirds “expect things to improve in the year ahead.”

One hopes that this poll?and the election turnout?will give the media a reason to question their constant drumbeat of gloom and doom about the situation there.

ABC said that “Surprising levels of optimism prevail in Iraq with living conditions improved, security more a national worry than a local one, and expectations for the future high.” Another surprise to ABC was the fact that more than six in 10 Iraqis feel very safe in their neighborhoods, a figure that stood at just 40 percent in June of 2004. Sixty-one percent consider their local security to be good, up from 49 percent in an ABC poll from February 2004.

ABC’s story about the poll had good economic news as well. “Average household incomes have soared by 60 percent in the last 20 months, 70 percent of Iraqis rate their own economic situation positively, and consumer goods are sweeping the country. In early 2004, 6 percent of Iraqi households had cell phones; now it’s 62 percent. Ownership of satellite dishes has nearly tripled, and many more families now own air conditioners (58 percent, up from 44 percent), cars, washing machines and kitchen appliances.”

News on the political front was good as well, according to the poll. It shows that three-quarters of Iraqis expressed confidence in the December 15 national elections and that “70 percent approve of the new constitution, and 70 percent?including most people in Sunni and Shiite areas alike?want Iraq to remain a unified country.” In addition, 57% of Iraqis want a democratic political structure, while just 14% prefer an Islamic state. The rest, primarily in Sunni areas, want a “single strong leader.”

In other results, two-thirds of Iraqis oppose the presence of the coalition forces in Iraq, a 14-point increase since February 2004. “Nearly six in 10 disapprove of how the United States has operated in Iraq since the war, and most of them disapprove strongly. And nearly half of Iraqis would like to see U.S. forces leave soon, but only 26 percent say they want the U.S. to leave now.”

But opposition to foreign forces is to be expected. At the same time, the poll also found that “nationally, security is seen as the most pressing problem by far; 57 percent identify it as the country’s top priority.” It goes without saying that the foreign forces are the only hope of turning the security situation around for the better.

Over at Fox News, an optimistic view was presented in a special titled, “Winning Iraq: The Untold Story.” Fox reporters traveled the country to see what they found. In much of the country, life has gotten far better. Fox presented a picture of political progress, including advances for women’s rights.  The program showed beautiful and vibrant vacation spots, a thriving stock market, and growing commerce, even while the terrorists commit bombings.

A Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll shows that 55% of Iraqis want the U.S. to finish the job before leaving.

I recently sat down with a group of six Iraqi female journalists visiting the U.S. When asked if they considered America to be liberators or occupiers, all but one indicated they were grateful to the U.S. for what they said was clearly liberation. One was concerned that the U.S. could do more to win hearts and minds, but overall they strongly approved of what the U.S. is doing.

I agree that we should win more hearts and minds. I just wish some of them were in our own media.




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