Wednesday, February 01, 2006

OpinionJournal - Extra

There is an excellent article by James Taranto at on the media's struggles to fit the Iraq news to the story:
Here's an example that illustrates both the media's antiwar attitude and their powerlessness: In October the Baltimore Sun ran a story under the headline, "Little Outcry Raised on Iraq." The subhead read: "Md. deaths push toll near 2,000, but public is distracted, experts say."

Consider what this headline tells you about the assumptions that prevail in the newsroom. "Little Outcry Raised on Iraq." Why is the absence of an outcry a story? News consists of the unexpected--man bites dog, not dog bites man. "Little Outcry Raised on Iraq" means that, in the view of the Baltimore Sun, an outcry is to be expected when the country is at war. If there isn't much of one, it means something is wrong: "Public is distracted, experts say." The so-called mainstream media are following the Vietnam script, according to which a war is supposed to become a quagmire, which provokes opposition and leads to American withdrawal.
You really need to read the rest.

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