ABC News, TIME Magazine, and the Trickling Out of the "Great News From Iraq" Poll

There’s a new poll out, done by Oxford Research International for ABC News and TIME magazine. Unfortunately, unless you were watching “This Week” on ABC this morning, or this evening’s “World News Tonight,” you likely missed it.

George Stephanopoulos referred to this poll on “This Week” this morning as he was speaking with American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad (taken from closed captioning):

“And I want to begin by showing you and our viewers some results from a new poll, conducted by ABC news and 'Time' magazine, and other international partners. It's part of our 'Iraq: Where Things Stand' series. It shows some good news. More than 70% of Iraqis think things are going well for them right now. But it also shows there's a growing gap between the Shiites and Sunnis in the country, as we've seen before. Over 80% of Shiites feel safe. They approve of the constitution. They have confidence in the Iraqi army.”

“Iraq: Where Things Stand” is an ongoing series that ABC News has been doing since 2003. From what I can tell, they have been using the services of Oxford Research International to give them data concerning the opinions of Iraqi citizens. ABCNews.com reported about tonight’s installment on “World News Tonight”: “In a rare, nationwide poll of 1,700 Iraqis, ABC News and its partners found 71 percent of the Iraqis saying their lives are "going well," and 65 percent opposing the presence of U.S. forces, though there is no consensus on when troops should leave.”

Oxford Research International doesn’t yet have the results of this survey available at its website. From what I can tell, neither does TIME magazine. And, unless you do a Google search for “Iraq: Where Things Stand,” you won’t find this at the ABC News website, either.

With a huge election about to occur in Iraq in four days, and American opinions concerning this war hugely divided, one has to wonder why such a poll is not being disseminated to a much larger audience. Or, is it somehow taboo to inform people that Iraqis are much more optimistic about what’s going on in their own country than the citizens of America believe?  

***** Update: I guess the BBC thinks this is newsworthy, as it just posted an article at its website entitled “Survey Finds Optimism in Iraq”:

“Interviewers found that 71% of those questioned said things were currently very or quite good in their personal lives, while 29% found their lives very or quite bad.  When asked whether their lives would improve in the coming year, 64% said things would be better and 12% said they expected things to be worse.”

The article continued:

“The BBC News website's World Affairs correspondent, Paul Reynolds, says the survey shows a degree of optimism at variance with the usual depiction of the country as one in total chaos. The findings are more in line with the kind of arguments currently being deployed by US President George W Bush, he says.”

Other pertinent information:

“When asked to choose a priority for the new government due to be formed after next week's parliamentary elections, 57% wanted to focus on restoring public security.

“Removing US-led forces from Iraq came second with 10%, while rebuilding the country's infrastructure was third.

“Half of those questioned felt Iraq needed a single, strong leader following December's vote, while 28% thought democracy was more important.

“However, opinions changed when people were asked about what Iraq would need in five years' time.

“Support for a strong leader fell to 31% and that for democracy rose to 45%.”

Of course, the question still remains: When is an American news agency other than NewsBusters going to report this information?

*****Update Two: ABCNews.com has finally posted detailed information about this poll at its website. For poll data, go here. For more information about this “Iraq: Where Things Stand” segment, go here. To watch a web version of the segment that aired on "Good Morning America" on 12/12/05, go here…I highly recommend it.

*****Update Three: The ABC News website now has a PDF of the entire poll. On page one, it states that this information was “embargoed” until 6AM, Monday, December 12, 2005. It is interesting that the BBC appears not to have been so restricted. Regardless, now that the embargo has been lifted, it will be very interesting to see how many media outlets report this information, and how much priority it is given over other news items.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.