Steve Schippert has this excellent post at NRO's The Tank about the shift in American attitudes about the Surge and why he isn't shocked that Americans are surprised to hear that the Surge may be working:
Assisting Misperception On Iraq [Steve Schippert]
Much has been made about the sea change in Americans' general perception of the situation in Iraq since O'Hanlon and Pollack penned their apparently startling observations of tangible and significant security progress in last week's New York Times. [ed - NY Times column here and not surprising rebuttal of the success by the lefty MediaMatters.org is here]
But who could be surprised that an op-ed changes perceptions? To be sure, the 'hard news reporting' from Iraq wasn't going to have much of an effect. After all, in the month of July, most readers will be surprised to know that only twelve journalists were embedded with military units in Diyala province north of Baghdad, where the most significant gains of all have been made as al-Qaeda in Iraq is systematically killed and driven from their post-Ramadi 'capital' perch enforced in Baqouba.
Twelve, ladies and gentlemen. And two of them were bloggers. CNN and the Washington Post combined for a whopping 5 days embedded in Diyala province between them in that period. And for the major networks supporting their nightly evening newscasts? Zero. Zip. Nada.
And we wonder why the American people are surprised at news of a successful surge thus far and significantly increased security wherever we have placed boots?
From CBS (one of the major networks with zero embedded journalists in Diyala Province in July) comes a report on a tour through the Haifa Street markets now safe for business in Baghdad. And the journalist's lack of understanding of the step by step process clear and hold campaigns when he calls the new Haifa Street security misleading. And he ends by characterizing General Petraeus' walk greeting Iraqis as "warming up his campaigning skills here" in preparations for his September report to Congress. See for yourself.
Haifa Street security is misleading? To whom?
Had the journalist been paying attention for the past several months, perhaps he would understand that the Baghdad operations are both ongoing and largely in a neighborhood-by-neighborhood manner, with several difficult areas yet to be suitably secured.
He could have chosen another manner of making the point that, while Haifa Street (and other areas) now enjoy persistent security and safety for the neighborhood citizens, there remain difficult areas. Instead, he chose to characterize the Haifa Street success as "misleading." Words mean things. Particularly to those who use them in their trade as a mechanic does his wrench and the painter his brush.
Again I ask: And we wonder why the American people are surprised at news of a successful surge thus far and significantly increased security?
And had the journalist been paying attention to General Petraeus' previous command deployments in Iraq, he would understand that walking and conversing among the local population is how he has always done things. That his entire approach to counter-insurgency is from the ground up with the locals and decidedly not from the top down. This approach is what landed him in Fort Leavenworth, so displeased were the 'powers that be' at the time in Iraq and the Pentagon at his bucking the trend and local-first approach to nearly every solution. It was also what landed him back in Iraq commanding all of Multi-National Force — Iraq.
And so, instead, his walk and conversations among local Iraqis is not the way he has always done things, ground up. It is, of course, just a man under pressure "warming up his campaigning skills" for Washington, to sell them something that is apparently "misleading."
So what is really "misleading" here, if one understands simple things like the nature of the operations at hand and the most basic traits and styles of the commander, both of which the journalist has assumed responsibility for by reporting on them?
I for one don't wonder why the American people are so surprised at 'revelations' of successes and progress in Iraq under General Petraeus' command.
And I don't blame the American public for that misunderstanding either. With the editorialization of 'straight news reporting' like this serving as a primary source of information, how could you?
There is much work to be done. And it's left to us.
Tire not. Engage.
08/06 05:27 PM
As I've often wondered here on this blog, even if the US military is successful in decreasing sectarian violence in Iraq, would it be reported? Since the entire focus of the media (and the Dems) is on the date which the US military leaves Iraq and the Middle East (without consideration for the ramifications of such a move), they are unwilling to admit that any facts could change that eventuality.
ARC: St Wendeler