August 28, 2003

ARNOLD AND IRAQ: Roger Simon finds similarities in the media coverage of both subjects:

So we were, in essence, lied to by a nebulous, self-serving consortium of media types anxious to have us read their papers and watch their TV shows. No surprise there either—and harmless enough. In fact, they seem to have done Arnold a favor—it was so easy to prove them wrong. Not that he appears to need this. His campaign seemed like a winner from the outset and still does.

But what is far more serious is the media lying on Iraq, which is similar in its need to sell newspapers but has other reasons and consequences, which are considerably graver. These profound geo-political thinkers pretend to be shocked that a Middle Eastern country, which, as we know and have been told repeatedly, was not really a country to begin with, and which spent thirty years under the most brutal of dictators, has not been turned into the Netherlands in four months. If the issues weren’t so important, this could be the source of a great opening sketch for Saturday Night Live. (In fact it should be the opening sketch for Saturday Night Live – “Gay Marriage in Baghdad!”)

Now I know the media were aided and abetted by the President’s junior high school triumphalism on that aircraft carrier, but still this approach appears almost deliberately misleading. The endless body counts we are subject to (horrible as they may be) are scarcely shocking and miniscule by comparison to almost any wartime situation (and, yes, this is still a wartime situation and likely to be for sometime to come). In fact, if you parse those statistics you find that a great number of the deaths were accidental and not from enemy fire.

Judging by this Gallup poll, support on Iraq remains strong:

Americans are increasingly likely to say things are not going well for the United States in Iraq, but the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll finds no decline in the past month in public support for the U.S. presence there or in public approval of the way President Bush is handling the situation. Bush’s overall job approval rating — at 59% — is also little changed across the four Gallup Polls conducted since mid-July.

Interesting. It’s as if people weren’t paying attention to the tone of the media coverage, or something. . . .

UPDATE: Matt Welch says that the latest Schwarzenegger developments just prove that journalism was better in the seventies!