Psychiatric Polling of the Press

The surveyor will see you now     

NewsBusters.org - Media Research Center
Journalist and Pollster
(Either Or)

As an increasing number of Americans exhibit knowledge of and confidence in the success of the surge in Iraq, pollsters seeking a gloomier picture have turned to their single most reliable focus group for bad news.  They have in fact skipped the middle men and women and gone to its very font: the media.

In a November 28th Reuters story, we are subjected to the opinions of people who are paid not to express any. 

Nearly 90 percent of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit, despite a recent drop in violence attributed to the build-up of U.S. forces, a (Pew Research Center) poll released on Wednesday said.

One wonders if this is the same 90% of correspondents who admitted to voting for President Bill Clinton twice; certainly a great deal of overlap exists between the two polling samples.

Reuters continues its exploration of the journalistic psyche:

... (A)mid signs of declining Iraqi civilian casualties and progress against Islamist militants such as al Qaeda in Iraq ...  most journalists said they believe violence and the threat of violence have increased during their tenures.  (Emphasis added.)   

The (media) are more than prepared to fit Saint Nick for a swimsuit, in anticipation of their belief in man-made global warming.

So despite mounting evidence to the contrary, these professional seekers of truth and accuracy believe that things are worsening. 

The story does not mention if Pew inquired as to their belief in Santa Claus.  There is mounting evidence that it is nearly impossible for a rotund man with an apparently bottomless sack to get down every chimney on the planet in one night, but that certainly does not preclude their believing in his circumnavigating and gifting the globe every Christmas Eve (excuse me, Summer Solstice Holiday Plus Three).

They are more than prepared to fit Saint Nick for a swimsuit, in anticipation of their belief in man-made global warming.

And why do these scribes believe it is getting more dangerous, rather than know it?

Much of the danger for journalists is faced by local Iraqis, who often do most of the reporting outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, the data showed.

So these true believers are resting comfortably in Baghdad's Green Zone, and dispatching the locals to do the heavy lifting.  One wonders, then, why Pew did not ask the Iraqis whether or not things on the ground are devolving.  (Perhaps they did, and did not like the results.)

"Above all, the journalists -- most of them veteran war correspondents -- describe conditions in Iraq as the most perilous they have ever encountered, and this above everything else is influencing the reporting," the (Pew) authors said in a report that accompanied the data.

"The most perilous (conditions) they have encountered"?  They are not the ones doing the encountering, Iraqis are.  Ask THEM.

Of what do these cocoon-conditioned journalists give a far better assessment?  Why, their reporting, of course.

HIGH MARKS FOR REPORTING EFFORT

Pew had tried to reach a total of 181 journalists, which it believes are nearly all those who have covered Iraq for American news organizations.

The journalists gave high marks to the overall reporting effort, with 74 percent rating news-gathering as good or excellent.

Again one is led to ask, are they speaking of themselves or those natives doing their dirty work for them?

For those of us in the media bias analysis game, the following may very well be a harmonic convergence moment.

Despite claims by U.S. officials that reporting from Iraq is negatively biased, 70 percent of those surveyed believe overall coverage is accurate, while 15 percent say the coverage makes the situation look better than it is.

Forty-four percent of journalists believe reporting has treated the Bush administration fairly, while 43 percent said coverage has been too easy on U.S. officials.

Let us play out this bit of polling sophistry:

Q: U.S. officials say you are biased.  Are you? 

A: Absolutely not.

Q: Thank you very much; we didn't think so.  Next question, ... .

Reuters then goes on to refer to President Bush's change in strategy in Iraq as the "so-called surge", and concludes with:

Under-reported subjects of the war include the plight of Iraqi civilians, Shi'ite-on-Shi'ite violence in southern Iraq and general events occurring outside Baghdad, journalists said.

The search for irony is here thoroughly requited.  Reporters are complaining that there are stories going unreported.  Here is a suggestion, REPORT ON THEM.  Or at the very least have your Iraqi lackeys peek around a bit. 

This is the functional equivalent of a bartender standing all day at his post with his hands in his pockets, refusing to acknowledge the many parched patrons vying for his attention, and then complaining at the end of the night that he did not sell any alcohol.  Grab a tap and a bottle, Chief.

That this piece was co-edited by a man named Alister Bull only begins to cover it.  What we have here is the media and the pollsters working, again, seamlessly and as one, to self-assuage and reaffirm their work and their worldview, reality be damned. 

When the news is bad, all of it is fit to print.  But when things turn towards the better, and the Pollster no longer gets the results he wants from the American people, the news quickly devolves into a navel-gazing therapy session where the Pollster and the Journalist take turns as doctor and patient

Unfortunately, neither the convalescents nor the reporting ever improve.

Seton Motley
Seton Motley
Founder and president of Less Government.