Oct
22
2009

WP Poll: Public Evenly Split on Afghan Escalation?

"U.S. Deeply Split on Troop Increase for Afghan War" is the headline on the Washington Post's October 21 report about its latest polling on Afghanistan. The paper reports that "Americans are evenly and deeply divided" over sending 40,000 extra troops: "47 percent of those polled favor the buildup, while 49 percent oppose it." If you've followed polling on this question, these results are striking–most recent surveys show the public is deeply troubled by the war and opposed to sending more troops. The most recent CNN survey (10/16-18/09), to take one example, found 39 percent support for sending more troops, and […]

Oct
19
2009

Know Your Enemy

Politico (10/14/09) published a list of top topics on Glenn Beck's Fox News show, based on a search of Nexis transcripts since the show's January 2009 debut. It's instructive to look at the placement of some individuals, groups and places in the news as an indication of Beck's sense of whom and what his audience should be informed about: ACORN: 1,224 Van Jones: 267 SEIU: 259 Afghanistan: 97 Iraq: 95 Valerie Jarrett: 52 Mark Lloyd: 50 Al-Qaeda: 50 Bill Ayers: 46 John Holdren: 43 Jeremiah Wright: 42 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: 41 Osama Bin Laden: 40 Taliban: 38

Oct
13
2009

Is Engel Too Opinionated–or Does He Have the Wrong Opinion?

When NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Richard Engel recently returned from Afghanistan, he told MSNBC's Morning Joe, "I honestly think it's probably time to start leaving the country." Engel added, "I really don't see how this is going to end in anything but tears." Engel's comments caused Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz (10/12/09) to raise an eyebrow at a reporter stating an opinion: "That sounds awfully opinionated for a working reporter," wrote Kurtz. But we had to wonder if what really attracted Kurtz's scrutiny was Engel's stating of an opinion, or the opinion itself? After all, for years FAIR […]

Oct
07
2009

Searching for the 'Middle' in Afghanistan Debate

In most policy debates, the media preference is for a solution in the "center," whatever they define that to be. A Los Angeles Times headline today on the Beltway debate on Afghanistan reads: "Obama mulls middle ground in Afghanistan war strategy." Like the healthcare debate, the media's version of "the middle" usually means something well to the right of actual public opinion. In this case, it's even harder to follow than that; as the Times puts it, Obama "suggested he is looking at the middle range of the spectrum, somewhere between a major increase in forces and a large drawdown." […]

Oct
02
2009

Time's Afghanistan Debate: More Troops or a Lot More Troops?

In the new issue of Time magazine,a debate on Afghanistan is listed in the table of contents this way: What Should We Do Now? Two Views Is it time for the U.S. military to turn Afghanistan over, or is time for our troops to stay the course? The "stay the course" view is presented by Peter Bergen, who argues that critics of the war are all wrong about Afghan history and the Afghan public's view of foreign troops (they don't mind them much): "The objections to an increased U.S. military commitment in South Asia rest on a number of flawed […]

Sep
17
2009

USA Today's Afghanistan Non-Debate

USA Today 's left/right op-ed feature today is a doozy– a "debate" on escalating the Afghan War between regulars Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel. The headline gives it away: Time to Dig In, Not Bail Out Forget left or right. Forget politics. Think "war on terror." Bob and Cal agree that now is not the time to abandon the war in Afghanistan. The back and forth between arch-conservative Thomas and TV leftist Beckel ends with this exchange: Bob: As much as my liberal instincts want us out of this war, I have to agree with you that it's time to […]

Sep
15
2009

'War-Stoking Mindset Is Replicating' in Big Media

Of deteriorating governmental control in Afghanistan, Norman Solomon (Common Dreams, 9/8/09) says that "a stale witticism calls Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai 'the mayor of Kabul.' Now, not even." He points to the "corrupt, inept and–with massive election fraud–now illegitimate" administration as a "notable work product" of "those who believe in making war": After 30 years, the results are in: a devastated city…. Meanwhile, a war-stoking mindset is replicating itself at the highest reaches of official Washington–even while polls tell us that the pro-war spin has been losing ground. For the U.S. public, dwindling support for the war in Afghanistan has […]

Sep
04
2009

Papers Still Deem Reality of War 'in Poor Taste'

Editor & Publisher's Joe Strupp (9/4/09) has an update on U.S. papers' "mixed reaction to the controversial Associated Press photo distributed today of a Marine who died in combat in Afghanistan last month." The picture's inclusion in "a group of images taken by AP photographer Julie Jacobson" predictably was "blasted" by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, whose censure came via "a formal letter of complaint." Strupp reports that the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times ran the photo on its website with an AP story about the images, while the Commercial Appeal in Memphis provided an online photo gallery of all of […]

Sep
01
2009

Joe Klein Advises Obama on Afghanistan

In his Time column this week, Klein writes: So what should Obama do about Afghanistan? His dilemma isn't as stark as has been posed in recent press accounts, with screamers on the right demanding slavish devotion to the military's wish list and screamers on the left demanding a withdrawal. The U.S. military has become far more … nuanced when it comes to making requests of presidents. The negotiations about what [Gen. Stanley] McChrystal can officially request will not take place anywhere near the public eye. It is very likely that more troops will be sent–to build and train the Afghan […]

Sep
01
2009

The Washington Post's Afghanistan Debate

The Washington Post had another "Topic A" feature onAugust 31, headlined "Is the War in Afghanistan Worth Fighting?" Acrucial debate, to be sure;the Post found one person (Andrew Bacevich) to argue that it is not, which is probably a position close to the majority view of the American public. That position is "balanced" by four contributors whoargue the war is worth fighting, in different ways or for different reasons. This imbalance echoes the Post'sprevious presentationof the Afghanistan debate, showing once again that the paper seems to believe that a public that increasingly sees the war as a lost cause needs […]

Aug
31
2009

Corporate Media 'Default Position': 'War Must Go On'

Media Monitors Network has the latest column from Norman Solomon (8/26/09), in which the longtime analyst of corporate media boosterism for U.S. wars considers a recent swath of stories that "have compared President Johnson's war in Vietnam and President Obama's war in Afghanistan." True, "the comparisons are often valid," Solomon finds, "but a key parallel rarely gets mentioned–the media's insistent support for the war even after most of the public has turned against it": This omission relies on the mythology that the U.S. news media functioned as tough critics of the Vietnam War in real time…. In fact, overall, the […]

Aug
28
2009

Still More Pentagon Lies, News Manipulation

Stars and Stripes reporters Charlie Reed, Kevin Baron and Leo Shane III (8/27/09) have an update on the military paper's recent exposure of Iraqi National Congress fabricators the Rendon Group helping the Pentagon in Screening New Embeds in Afghanistan "to determine whether their past coverage has portrayed the U.S. military in a positive light." A reporter profile obtained by Stars and Stripes "evaluates work published as recently as May, indicating that the rating practice did not in fact cease last October" as claimed by a Pentagon representative, and "explicit suggestions contained in the Rendon profiles detailing how best to manipulate […]

Aug
24
2009

The Debate Over Afghanistan–Newspapers Are Full of It

In his Week in Review piece wondering if Obama's Afghanistan policy is akin to LBJ andVietnam, New York Times reporter Peter Baker notes that the public mood is seeping into the media: That growing disenchantment in the countryside is increasingly mirrored in Washington, where liberals in Congress are speaking out more vocally against the Afghan war and newspapers are filled with more columns questioning Americaâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s involvement. Newspapers are filled with what now? It doesn't feel that way to me, but surely Baker must havesome evidence. Which he does: The cover of the latest Economist is headlined "Afghanistan: The Growing Threat […]