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Some unintentional truth at the New York Times

By See-Dubya  •  April 7, 2008 02:01 PM

{Guest Post by See-Dubya}

Karl at Protein Wisdom caught New York Times theater critic turned editorial writer Frank Rich in a humdinger, apparently confusing “the majority of Americans” with “the majority of New York Times readers”. In a column portraying the recent fight in Basra between Iraqi forces and the Mahdi army a new “Tet offensive” (oooh–Iraq-Vietnam analogy? How edgy.), Rich reveals himself as pretty out of touch with America:

For the majority of Americans who haven’t met any of the brave troops who’ve been cavalierly tossed into the quagmire, the war is out of sight and mind in a way Vietnam never was. Only 28 percent of Americans knew American casualties in Iraq were nearing 4,000 last month, according to the Pew Research Center. The Project for Excellence in Journalism found that by March 2008 the percentage of prominent news stories that were about Iraq had fallen to about one-fifth of what it was in January 2007.

Really? Rich means one of two things there. Either he thinks that the majority of Americans have never met a soldier who’s served in Iraq, which is laughable, OR he’s writing about the majority of the tiny subset of Americans who have never met a soldier who’s served in Iraq. (In other words…the New York Times readership?) Either way, Rich sounds utterly clueless about how broadly Iraq deployments have affected mainstream America. Rich sounds like another famous New York Times critic, Pauline Kael, who is supposed to have wondered how America elected Nixon in 1972 when she didn’t know a single person who voted for him.

He’s got a point about the coverage falling off in Iraq, though. News there got better, and the stories dried up. Which brings me to a more substantive criticism of Rich’s column:

That’s why it’s no surprise that so few stopped to absorb the disastrous six-day battle of Basra that ended last week — a mini-Tet that belied the “success” of the surge. Even fewer noticed that the presumptive Republican nominee seemed at least as oblivious to what was going down as President Bush, no tiny feat.

The Tet offensive was actually an American military victory, spun by the American media into an American defeat.

Frank Rich, though perhaps he might never be called “the Most Trusted Man in America”, is trying to insert himself into the Basra narrative as Walter Cronkite. But in fact, despite Rich’s and the MSM’s attempts to spin it as such, the truth about Basra is that it was no defeat for the Iraqi army:

In Basra the nascent Iraqi Army—also riddled with incompetence and self-doubt—actually came out looking better against Iraq’s well-established militias than the American Army had 65 years earlier against the entrenched Nazis, says retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey. “At Kasserine we got our asses kicked. These people didn’t,” McCaffrey says.

Despite a spate of early grim assessments of Basra in the U.S. media, U.S. military observers on the ground in Iraq are more sanguine, says McCaffrey, who has long been a critic of the war.

A slightly more honest and knowledgeable critic of the war than Frank Rich, I might append.

RELATED: Curt at Flopping Aces catches some Iraq bias and proffers an interesting theory about it:

I tell ya why…..Petraeus is testifying this week so the ground needs to be prepped for the Democrats.

Interesting. But I’m not buying…the Democrats would never make out a war hero like General Petraeus to be some kind of liar.

Posted in: Iraq,New York Times

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