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Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

This should settle the whole 'good news from Iraq' issue.

But given how right-wingers and apologists for Dubya don't care about facts, I'm sure they'll go on accusing the media of undermining the prez's war effort in Iraq.

Earlier today, CBS News' Baghdad reporter Lara Logan demolished the notion that there's this huge amount of good news in Iraq that just isn't making it into US newspapers and newscasts. In an interview with Howard Kurtz on CNN's Reliable Sources, Logan categorically rejected criticisms that she and other reporters in Iraq are slanting the news.


Lara Logan tells it like it is

Do you think Kurtz really expected the answer Lara Logan was giving him?
[Image: CNN]


From the Reliable Sources transcript:

KURTZ: Bush and Cheney essentially seem to be accusing you and your colleagues of carrying the terrorist message by reporting on so many of these attacks. What do you make of that?

LOGAN: Well, I think that's -- that is a very convenient way of looking at it. It doesn't reflect the value judgment that's implicit in that.

As a journalist, if an American soldier or an Iraqi person dies that day, you have to make a decision about how you weigh the value of reporting that news over the value of something that may be happening, say, a water plant that's being turned on that brings fresh water to 200 Iraqi people. I mean, you get accused of valuing human life in a certain way depending on how you report it.

And also, as -- I mean, what I would point out is that you can't travel around this country anymore without military protection. You can't travel without armed guards. You're not free to go every time there's a school opening or there's some reconstruction project that's being done.

We don't have the ability to go out and cover those. If they want to see a fair picture of what's happening in Iraq, then you have to first start with the security issue.


When journalists are free to move around this country, then they will be free to report on everything that's going on. But as long as you're a prisoner of the terrible security situation here, then that's going to be reflected in your coverage.

And not only that, but their own figures show that their reconstruction project was supposed to create 1.5 million Iraqi jobs. To date, 77,000 Iraqi government jobs have been created. That should give you an indication of how far along they are in terms of reconstruction.

We have to put everything in its context. We can't go to one small unit and say, oh, they did a great job in this village and ignore all the other villages that haven't seen any improvement in their conditions.

KURTZ: There is no question that the dangerous conditions for journalists there are making it much harder to report on some of these signs of progress, as you point out. But I look at just the last couple of weeks of your coverage. Besides covering the Saddam trial, you reported on allegations that U.S. troops had killed a group of civilians. Then you reported an attack on a police station, the bombing of a police convoy, you talked about the threat of a civil war. All legitimate stories. But critics would say, well, no wonder people back home think things are falling apart because we get this steady drumbeat of negativity from the correspondents there.

LOGAN: Well, who says things aren't falling apart in Iraq? I mean, what you didn't see on your screens this week was all the unidentified bodies that have been turning up, all the allegations here of militias that are really controlling the security forces.

What about all the American soldiers that died this week that you didn't see on our screens?
I mean, we've reported on reconstruction stories over and over again, but the order to (ph) general for Iraqi reconstruction says that only 49 of well over 100 planned electricity projects happened.

So we can't keep doing the same stories over and over again. When a police station's attacked, that's something new that happened this week. If you had any idea of the number of Iraqis that come to us with stories of abuses of U.S. soldiers and you look at our coverage over the last -- my coverage over the last few weeks, or even over the last three years, there's been maybe two or three stories that have related to that....

KURTZ: So what you're saying is that what we see on the "CBS Evening News" or other networks actually is only a snapshot, is only perhaps scratching the surface of the kinds of violence and difficulties that you are witnessing day after day because you can only get so much of this on the air?

LOGAN: Oh, yes. Absolutely. [Our] own editors back in New York are asking us the same things.

They read the same comments. You know, are there positive stories? Can't you find them?

You don't think that I haven't been to the U.S. military and the State Department and the embassy and asked them over and over again, let's see the good stories, show us some of the good things that are going on? Oh, sorry, we can't take to you that school project, because if you put that on TV, they're going to be attacked about, the teachers are going to be killed, the children might be victims of attack.

Oh, sorry, we can't show this reconstruction project because then that's going to expose it to sabotage. And the last time we had journalists down here, the plant was attacked.

I mean, security dominates every single thing that happens in this country.
Reconstruction funds have been diverted to cover away from reconstruction to -- they've been diverted to security.

Soldiers, their lives are occupied most of the time with security issues. Iraqi civilians' lives are taken up most of the time with security issues.

So how it is that security issues should not then dominate the media coverage coming out of here? [Emphasis added]

Logan also rejected charges by right-wing commentator Laura Ingram that the press is 'reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off' instead of going out into the field and talking to Iraqis. After reiterting the difficulties and danger that reporters face when trying to get out of the Green Zone, Logan pointed out that reporters who do get into the field [such as ABC's Bob Woodruff, who was badly injured north of Baghdad] are called irresponsible and have their integrity questioned by the same people who criticized them for staying in their hotels.

To appreciate both how angry Logan was about the charges made against the Iraqi press corps, and the lameness of some of Kurtz's questions, you really need to see the interview. Luckily, Crooks and Liars has posted links to Windows Media and QuickTime video files here.

| | Posted by Magpie at 1:15 PM | Get permalink




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