Patterico's Pontifications

6/30/2004

More L.A. Times Lies About Iraq

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:42 am

Yesterday’s L.A. Times story on the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq strained hard to portray this apparently positive step in a negative fashion. The story opened with these paragraphs:

An interim Iraqi government took power Monday after a furtive ceremony meant to preempt insurgent attacks that could have disrupted the hand-over.

It was an inauguration on the run. After transferring authority, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer III left for the airport.

Some formerly cynical Iraqis have seen Bremer’s immediate departure as a positive signal that the transfer of sovereignty was genuine. But the L.A. Times absurdly portrays Bremer as simply desperate to get out of the country.

But the most outrageous distortion by the L.A. Times yesterday was its false portrayal of Interim Prime Minister Allawi as an unknown and unpopular leader:

Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, little-known to most Iraqis after spending more than three decades in exile, took the oath of office on a red Koran and urged his countrymen to close ranks to defeat a fierce insurrection responsible for a spree of kidnappings, assassinations, car bombings and beheadings.

. . . .

Many Iraqis have questioned the interim government’s legitimacy, and insurgents have threatened to assassinate Allawi.

Where do the reporters get the idea that Allawi is “little-known to most Iraqis” and widely perceived as illegitimate? They don’t say. Which is not surprising, because it’s not true. Nowhere does the story mention a recent poll by an independent professional polling organization, reported in the Washington Post on Friday, which found:

A large majority of Iraqis say they have confidence in the new interim government of Prime Minister Ayad Allawi that is set to assume political power on Wednesday . . . .

. . . .

There had been particular concern in Baghdad and Washington that Allawi’s many years in exile before Hussein was ousted and his long-standing association with the CIA would undermine his credibility.

But 73 percent of Iraqis polled approved of Allawi to lead the new government, 84 percent approved of President Ghazi Yawar and almost two-thirds backed the new Cabinet.

Those poll findings refute the Times‘s assertion that Allawi is “little-known to most Iraqis”:

U.S. officials are particularly encouraged because the poll showed high name recognition for the new leadership, in contrast with many members of the former council, U.S. officials said. More than 70 percent of Iraqis polled have heard or read a significant amount about the new leaders, who were named about three weeks ago.

“That’s huge penetration — and it happened quickly,” said the coalition official, who asked for anonymity because of the rules on naming officials in Baghdad. “It’s partly because Allawi is on all the Arab media every day talking about security. He’s visiting sites, and there are constantly images of the prime minister tackling security, which is what Iraqis care most about right now. It resonates, and it comes across in these figures.”

Sure, it comes across in these figures — but only if the paper mentions these figures. But, to my knowledge, these poll findings have yet to be mentioned by the L.A. Times. Placing the words “Allawi” and “poll” into their search engine yields one relevant hit: this news analysis, which does not mention the poll concerning Allawi’s popularity, but does discuss several recent polls in the U.S. showing the unpopularity of the war among American voters. (It’s okay to mention those polls, because they look bad for Bush.)

Perhaps U.S. voters would be more optimistic if more of their major newspapers would inform them of the optimism of the citizens of Iraq. As the Washington Post reported (but the L.A. Times didn’t), the new poll shows:

Four out of every five Iraqis expected that the new government will “make things better” for Iraq after the handover, with 10 percent expecting the situation to remain the same and 7 percent anticipating a decline, the poll shows.

. . . .

In a sign that Iraqis are more optimistic generally about their future after the occupation ends, two-thirds of Iraqis believed the first democratic elections for a new national assembly — tentatively set for December or January — will be free and fair, the survey shows.

This poll represents very good news for the future of Iraq. Why has the L.A. Times not found this poll worth mentioning? The answer appears clear: the paper’s editors have decided that they don’t like the war, and therefore you shouldn’t like the war. Accordingly, any news that might give you reason to be optimistic about the war is spiked, and the opposite is portrayed.

If you are relying on the L.A. Times as an exclusive source for your news, you are making a huge, huge mistake. But then, if you did, you probably wouldn’t be reading this site, would you?

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