Friday, August 26, 2005

News for the Oracle

No doubt you'll be seeing this news story in your local newspaper. ... or not.

People with friends or relatives serving in Iraq are more likely than others to have a positive view of a generally unpopular war, an AP-Ipsos poll found.

Some of those surveyed said their relationships with troops helped them learn more about what's going on in Iraq beyond the violence. Others said their opinions of the war were shaped by a sense of loyalty to those in harm's way.

Emphasis added. I love that little trick. The "bias by omission." The head-in-the-sand insistence that those who report the news do not figure into public perceptions of what is happening in the world.

Nowhere in this article does the AP address the matter of the AP's coverage of Iraq. But if you read between the lines, the gap between what the mil families say and what everyone else says is largely due to the fact that the mil families have access to a picture of Iraq, and the U.S. mission there, that the rest of us lack.

Because the rest of us have to rely on the AP and its big media sisters. And all they show us is overwhelmingly violent and negative.

A solid majority of those who did not know anyone in Iraq said they thought the war was a mistake, 61 percent, compared to 36 percent who thought it was the right decision. Those who had a relative or friend there were almost evenly split, 49 percent right decision, 47 percent mistake.

After Ted Chittum of Bourbon, Ind., had a chance to talk at length with his cousin who served in Iraq, he said he got a different picture of what was going on in the country.

"He talked about all the good things that are going on," said Chittum, a school superintendent and a political independent who supports the war effort. "Schools are opening up. The people are friendly, wanting our help. You get a whole different spin from what you get on television."

Uh-huh. Those of us who visit Milbloggers from time to time are quite familiar with that story.

"From most of the information I get, the people over there fighting basically are proud to be there and feel they're doing something good," said Sally Dowling, a bank employee from Mesa, Ariz., who said her boss's son is serving in Iraq. "That brings it home more than if I didn't know anybody."

Yup. Oh, and that cassandra shriek about Americans turning into a pack of little fascists who want to stifle all dissent?

An overwhelming number of people say critics of the Iraq war should be free to voice their objections. Nearly three weeks after a grieving California mother named Cindy Sheehan started her anti-war protest near Bush's Texas ranch, nine of 10 people surveyed in the AP-Ipsos poll say it's OK for war opponents to share publicly their concerns about the conflict.