Abandon All Hope

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on November 19, 2008

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Directions

-Read the excerpt below (from James Taranto's Best of the Web posted at OpinionJournal.com on 11/12/08).
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

The Associated Press has more bad news for Iraq, under the headline “US Military to Abandon Iraqi Cities”:

The U.S. military in Iraq is abandoning–deliberately and with little public notice–a centerpiece of the widely acclaimed strategy it adopted nearly two years ago to turn the tide against the insurgency. It is moving American troops farther from the people they are trying to protect.

Apparently the surge wasn’t such a great success after all. George W. Bush is still president, and the military is already abandoning the centerpiece of its strategy, leaving the Iraqis to fend for themselves:

Starting in early 2007, with Iraq on the brink of all-out civil war, the troops were pushed into the cities and villages as part of a change in strategy that included President Bush’s decision to send more combat forces.

The bigger U.S. presence on the streets was credited by many with allowing the Americans and their Iraqi security partners to build trust among the populace, thus undermining the extremists’ tactics of intimidation, reducing levels of violence and giving new hope to resolving the country’s underlying political conflicts.

Now the Americans are reversing direction, consolidating in larger bases outside the cities and leaving security in the hands of the Iraqis while remaining within reach to respond as the Iraqi forces require.

So it was all for naught. Or was it? Read on:

The U.S. is on track to complete its shift out of all Iraqi cities by June 2009. That is one of the milestones in a political-military campaign plan devised in 2007 by Gen. David Petraeus, when he was the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and his political partner in Baghdad, Ambassador Ryan Crocker. The goal also is in a preliminary security pact with the Iraqi government on the future U.S. military presence.

You have to read to the fifth paragraph to find out that the U.S. is “abandoning” parts of Iraq because it has successfully reached a milestone–not because we have suddenly decided to cut and run.

(Read the original post at the Nov. 12, 2008 “Best of the Web” at opinionjournal.com.)

Questions

1. What is the problem with Associated Press’ headline “US Military to Abandon Iraqi Cities” and its lede (first) paragraph?
2. What type of bias is this an example of?


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1. The headline and the lede give the reader the wrong impression. The importance of an accurate headline is that most people don’t read every word of every article; they often just skim the headlines and the opening paragraph. That means the people who read just the headline and first paragraph got a very different impression from those who read the entire article.  Readers are led to believe the U.S. military is doing something bad when in fact the they are succeeding in helping Iraqis.
2. The headline is an example of bias by spin.