web counter Media Lies: This drives me nuts

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

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This drives me nuts

In an article on Iraq, published in the Christian Science Monitor, the writer, Dan Murphy, piles speculation upon speculation. Approaching more fantasy than a news story, the article is replete with "is likely"s, "but could"s and "I think"s.

Why writers can't simply stick to the facts instead of injecting opinion into their story is probably the biggest story the blogosphere has ever covered.
"I think most Sunnis are extremely frustrated and I think there's a lot of support among them for the insurgency,'' says Kenneth Katzman, an expert on Iraq and Iran for the Congressional Research Service in Washington. "Not only are they no longer No. 1 in Iraq, they're not even No. 2."

Mr. Katzman says the Kurdish rise, given their overt independence sentiments and desire to incorporate Kirkuk into their autonomous region, could end up opening another front in Iraq's war.

"I think it's very problematic,'' he says, adding that a Kurdish push for Kirkuk is probably "just a matter of time. And that could draw in other communities and could be a spark that sets this whole thing off."
I'm glad our expert thinks, but he should do his thinking in forward-looking policy documents, not news stories. We've had entirely too much of Katzman-like thinking in "news" stories, and it's muddied the waters and made them impenetrable.

How anyone could make an intelligent guess about Iraq's future is beyond me, but I think there's as much warrant for being positive looking forward as there is for being negative.

Speaking of which, have you ever noticed that "experts" tend to be negative? I suppose it's the salesman's mentality — "always under-promise and over-deliver". Most of the "experts" are self-employed, after all, and they have to worry about their next meal. Better to be negative and wrong than overly enthusiastic and wrong. You can always respond with — "My, that turned out much better than expected!" — and get away with it.