FNC's O'Reilly Highlights MRC Study: As Iraq Improves, Coverage Falls

NewsBusters.org --- Media Research CenterFNC's Bill O'Reilly on Thursday night centered his "Talking Points Memo" around the findings in the MRC's Media Reality Check study released earlier this week, "Good News = Less News on Iraq War: As Surge Succeeds and Casualty Rates Fall, ABC, CBS and NBC Lose Interest In Iraq War." O'Reilly pointed out how U.S. casualties and violence are way down from six months ago. Then, citing the MRC's numbers with a chart displaying them on screen, he observed how now "there is far less carnage in Iraq and far less reporting about the war. Since the surge began, Iraq war stories on the nightly news programs have dropped from 178 a month to 68 in November. Those stats were compiled by the conservative watchdog group Media Research Center and you can read the report online at mrc.org."

Video (2:35): Real (1.91 MB) and Windows (1.60), plus MP3 audio (1.19 MB).

Key findings from the study (also available here as PDF file) by MRC Research Director Rich Noyes:

....MRC researchers examined all 354 Iraq war stories that aired on the big three evening newscasts from September 1 through November 30, including weekends. That figure includes 234 field reports, plus 120 short headline items read by the news anchor.

Vanishing War. Back in September, as reporters voiced skepticism of General Petraeus' progress report, the networks aired a total of 178 Iraq stories, or just under two per network per night. About one-fourth of those stories (42) were filed from Iraq itself, with most of the rest originating in Washington.

In October, TV's war news fell by about 40 percent, to 108 stories, with the number of reports filed from Iraq itself falling to just 20, or less than one-fifth of all Iraq stories. By November, the networks aired a mere 68 stories, with only eleven (16%) actually from the war zone itself....

The December 4 report in full, "Good News = Less News on Iraq War; MRC Study: As Surge Succeeds and Casualty Rates Fall, ABC, CBS and NBC Lose Interest In Iraq War." The PDF, which matches the hard copy.

NewsBusters.org  --- Media Research CenterInvestor's Business Daily on Thursday published an op-ed by Rich Noyes summarizing his findings: "Television Networks Fade to Black as the U.S. Surge Succeeds in Iraq."

A transcript of O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" at the top of the December 6 The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:

O'REILLY: Getting the truth about Iraq. That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo. With things getting much better in Iraq, voters now must decide how big an issue this will be next year? Do you pull out of there if you're winning? Naturally, when the USA was stalemated in that theater many people said enough, it's not worth it, and the Republicans lost both the House and the Senate. But now the surge has improved security. American casualties are down a whopping 71 percent since May and al Qaeda in Iraq has been badly damaged. Again, do we pull out if there's a chance Iraq can become a stable, anti-terror nation? Some will say yes, get out of there. But many, perhaps most, might take a second look, and that second look might be bad for the Democrats who generally oppose the war.

Enter the media. Last June I told you that some TV news organizations were showing carnage in Iraq with no context. If it blew up, it made the nightly news.

O'REILLY, JUNE 14: Now, as everyone knows al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people to fight the jihad -- Osama bin Laden has stated that in writing. So blowing things up, and hopefully getting the carnage on TV, is what the terrorists want.

O'REILLY BACK ON THURSDAY NIGHT: Now I was criticized by people like Washington Post TV writer Howard Kurtz for saying that, but it was true. Carnage without context was the rule of the day and it helped the terrorists. Six months later, there is far less carnage in Iraq and far less reporting about the war. Since the surge began, Iraq war stories on the nightly news programs have dropped from 178 a month to 68 in November. Those stats were compiled by the conservative watchdog group Media Research Center and you can read the report online at mrc.org.

This is proof that bad news in Iraq is promoted by American news agencies while good news is largely ignored. But why? Talking Points believes that most of the American media despise President Bush and will ignore anything that puts him in a positive light. I could be wrong about that, but the evidence is overwhelming I'm not. Also, it is my opinion that most of the media wants a Democrat elected next time around and any good news from Iraq might not advance that cause. There is no question that Iraq remains a troubling issue -- the government there is inefficient and corruption is everywhere. If we could go back in a time machine and do it again, I firmly believe we could have found a better way to remove Saddam Hussein. But honesty in reporting is vital to a free society and we're not getting that in America. We're seeing a partisan press promoting ideology, not fairly covering the news. That is the truth and the proof is the current reporting on Iraq.

NB Staff
NB Staff