I’ve got to do a longer response to John Quiggin’s post tagging us as the “last holdout of good news” on Iraq, and belittling the discussion of Beauchamp’s articles in TNR. But I’ve got no time so I want to get something up quickly.
For the wingers, this is a continuous pattern. Before this, there was a flap about a report that failures by contractors were resulting in troops in the field not getting adequate food. Before that, it was the Jamil Hussein case, a months-long brawl with AP arising from a report by a stringer about attacks on mosques. Before that, it was reports from Lebanon of ambulances being hit by Israeli fire. And so on.[fn1] Thereâ€™s too much of this to try and give comprehensive coverage, and I’m not interested in debating the details, but a search on Instapundit will usually get you started.
Well, yeah. Jamil Hussein turned out to be a cop stationed very far from the incidents he reported – the biggest of which (mosque attacks) was kinda disproved; The ambulances were pretty clearly not hit by Israeli fire; and the media management by Hezbollah was shown pretty clearly to be stage-managed, if not Photoshopped…so yeah, there have been some “issues” with the “truthiness” of the media reports. And yeah, our side does kind of sound like whiners because we always are complaining about it and pointing it out. But that’s the nature of criticism, isn’t it?
Internally, we stopped doing Good News not for macro reasons – because we no longer believe things are better than reported (although not nearly as good as we’d hope) in Iraq – but for micro reasons; Joe has stepped back from actively managing the blog and recruiting contributors (note that we no longer do Sufi Wisdom, either), and I’m working my butt off at work, leading a complicated grown-up life, and trying to start a PAC, among other things. But John’s right – this is something that’s worth some emphasis.
And it’s worth it because we’re in a fun-house mirror world in which we shouldn’t have invaded Iraq because (among other reasons) we don’t have the resources or commitment to stick it out; we don’t have the resources or commitment to stick it out because it seems so damn difficult and the outcomes seem so negative; and it seems so difficult and the outcomes so negative because – I’ll claim, and others who have first-hand experience claim – the reporting on and thus public perception of the war has been so filtered by the ‘chattering classes’ that we have a distorted view of the intensity and prevalence of the horrible things that are truly happening there.
So that lens matters, and when major idea-planting media outlets, like the Nation and The New Republic run stories that spin madly to show the moral rot of our troops – caused by the moral rot of the war – I don’t see an effort to report the truth, I see an effort to shape public opinion. And I am happy to see what I can do to counter that shaping.
But we need to get Good News started again, and I’d love to find someone who’s willing to dig through the news and put something up every other week. Because if you talk to folks on the ground over there, there is some good news.
Oh, wait – even the NYT is starting to notice.