AP Headline Chosen For Political Effect?

October 12th, 2006 1:24 AM
The headline from this Associated Press story reads, "Army: Troops to stay in Iraq until 2010." Yikes! The Army has decided that we need 141,000 troops in Iraq at least through 2010? Surely, this is a clear indication that the situation is much more dire than the American public has been lead to believe?

Actually, no. The information in the story doesn't match the headline.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, cautioned against reading too much into the planning, which is done far in advance to prepare the right mix of combat units for expected deployments. He noted that it is easier to scale back later if conditions allow, than to ramp up if they don't.

"This is not a prediction that things are going poorly or better," Schoomaker told reporters. "It's just that I have to have enough ammo in the magazine that I can continue to shoot as long as they want us to shoot."

General Shoomaker has directly contradicted the headline.

Certainly, the AP is aware that large numbers of people scan headlines without reading the accompanying story. The dishonest headline would seem to be designed to deliver a quick, and incorrect, take on the story. Coincidentally, just a few weeks before the 2006 midterm elections.

And a Google search for the headline shows that more than 300 stories have been printed with it across the country, all giving the false impression that the Army is saying current troop levels will be maintained until 2010.

Even if someone at the Associated Press decides to correct the headline those 300+ stories will still be out there, spreading disinformation.