The Media Research Center has completed an exhaustive study of media coverage in Iraq in 2005 (so far) and has evidence to back up the reality that the MSM is starkly biased. How and what the media reports is extraordinarily important because it, sadly, still determines to great affect how the average person thinks about Iraq.
Note the Zawahiri letter released earlier this week:
"However despite all of this, I say to you: that we in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Umma."
Here it is in the original Arabic.
The MRC examined 1,388 stories on the ABC, NBC and CBS flagship evening news broadcasts for the nine months ending September 30. Here is some of what they found:
- Network coverage has been overwhelmingly pessimistic. More than half of all stories (848, or 61%) focused on negative topics or presented a pessimistic analysis of the situation, four times as many as featured U.S. or Iraqi achievements or offered an optimistic assessment (just 211 stories, or 15%).
- News about the war has grown increasingly negative. In January and February, about a fifth of all network stories (21%) struck a hopeful note, while just over half presented a negative slant on the situation. By August and September, positive stories had fallen to a measly seven percent and the percentage of bad news stories swelled to 73 percent of all Iraq news, a ten-to-one disparity.
- Terrorist attacks are the centerpiece of TV’s war news. Two out of every five network evening news stories (564) featured car bombings, assassinations, kidnappings or other attacks launched by the terrorists against the Iraqi people or coalition forces, more than any other topic.
- Even coverage of the Iraqi political process has been negative.
And this, the biggest disgrace of all, after the yards of newsprint devoted to Abu Ghraib:
- Few stories focused on the heroism or generous actions of American soldiers. Just eight stories were devoted to recounting episodes of heroism or valor by U.S. troops, and another nine stories featured instances when soldiers reached out to help the Iraqi people. In contrast, 79 stories focused on allegations of combat mistakes or outright misconduct on the part of U.S. military personnel.
- It’s not as if there was no “good news” to report. NBC’s cameras found a bullish stock market and a hiring boom in Baghdad’s business district, ABC showcased the coalition’s successful effort to bring peace to a Baghdad thoroughfare once branded “Death Street,” and CBS documented how the one-time battleground of Sadr City is now quiet and citizens are beginning to benefit from improved public services.