Wednesday, December 20, 2006

When the media is right

Rich Lowry chides conservatives for their unending disdain for the mainstream media. He is correct that "The mainstream media is biased, arrogant, prone to stultifying group-think and much more fallible than its exalted self-image allows it to admit. It also, however, can be right, and this is most confounding to conservatives."

But Lowry also claims that

In Iraq, the media’s biases happen to fit the circumstances. Being primed to consider any military conflict a quagmire and another Vietnam is a drawback when covering a successful U.S. military intervention, but not necessarily in Iraq. Most of the pessimistic warnings from the mainstream media have turned out to be right — that the initial invasion would be the easy part, that seeming turning points (the capture of Saddam, the elections, the killing of Zarqawi) were illusory, that the country was dissolving into a civil war.

This is both true and untrue. It is untrue because the media generated pessimism in the face of positive results (killing Uday and Qusay, toppling Saddam) and thereby exposed both its bias and a reflexive anti-Americanism that is a disservice to our servicemen and -women and the country as a whole. Lowry's claim is true because the Administration allowed the situation to deteriorate by acting slowly and indecisively. In other words, instead of controlling the future in Iraq, the Administration allowed the media's perception to become a reality.

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