MRC: The Psychiatric Polling of the Press

As an increasing number of Americans somehow manage to get more information on the surge in Iraq – and from it, a more optimistic outlook on its progress — pollsters seeking a gloomier picture have turned to their most reliably pessimistic focus group : American journalists.

A November 28th Reuters story, subjected us to the opinions of people who are paid to (ostensibly, anyway) exclude them from their work.

Nearly 90% of U.S. journalists in Iraq say much of Baghdad is still too dangerous to visit, despite a recent drop in violence attributed to the build-up of U.S. forces, a (Pew Research Center) poll released on Wednesday said.

This is the same lockstep percentage as that of 1990s White House correspondents who admitted to voting for President Bill Clinton twice.

That the media is liberally-biased is a matter of record; what this poll gives us is a glimpse into their psyche in professional practice. This Leftist slant is, in fact, not the result of a conspiracy but a culture. The normative psychology of the American media requires disbelief in any possible success in Iraq; indeed there is a common conviction that victory simply can not occur.

Reuters continues its psychiatric exploration:

… (A)mid signs of declining Iraqi civilian casualties and progress against Islamist militants such as al Qaeda in Iraq … most journalists said they believe violence and the threat of violence have increased during their tenures. (Emphasis added.)

So despite mounting evidence to the contrary, these professional seekers of truth and accuracy believe that things are worsening.

The story does not mention if Pew inquired as to their belief in Santa Claus. There is mounting evidence that it is nearly impossible for a rotund man with an apparently bottomless sack to get down every chimney on the planet in one night, but that certainly does not preclude their believing in his circumnavigating and gifting the globe every Christmas Eve (excuse me, Summer Solstice Holiday Plus Three).

They are more than prepared to fit Saint Nick for a swimsuit, in anticipation of their belief in man-made global warming.

And why do these scribes believe it is getting more dangerous, rather than know it?

Much of the danger for journalists is faced by local Iraqis, who often do most of the reporting outside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, the data showed.

So these true believers are resting comfortably in the Green Zone, and dispatching the locals to do the heavy lifting. One wonders, then, why Pew did not ask the Iraqis whether or not things on the ground are devolving. (Perhaps they did, and did not like the results.)

Additionally, there are now available for interview ex-refugees by the thousands who have returned to their homes, speaking with their feet as it were.)

“Above all, the journalists — most of them veteran war correspondents — describe conditions in Iraq as the most perilous they have ever encountered, and this above everything else is influencing the reporting,” the (Pew) authors said in a report that accompanied the data.

“The most perilous (conditions) they have encountered”? They are not the ones doing the encountering, Iraqis are. Ask THEM.

Of what do these cocoon-conditioned journalists give a far better assessment? Why, their reporting, of course.


Pew had tried to reach a total of 181 journalists, which it believes are nearly all those who have covered Iraq for American news organizations.

The journalists gave high marks to the overall reporting effort, with 74 percent rating news-gathering as good or excellent.

Again one is led to ask, are they speaking of themselves or those natives doing their dirty work for them?

For those of us in the media bias analysis game, the following may very well be a harmonic convergence moment.

Despite claims by U.S. officials that reporting from Iraq is negatively biased, 70 percent of those surveyed believe overall coverage is accurate, while 15 percent say the coverage makes the situation look better than it is.

Forty-four percent of journalists believe reporting has treated the Bush administration fairly, while 43 percent said coverage has been too easy on U.S. officials.

Let us play out this bit of polling sophistry:

Q: U.S. officials say you are biased. Are you?
A: Absolutely not.
Q: Thank you very much; we didn’t think so. Next question, … .

Reuters then goes on to refer to President Bush’s change in strategy in Iraq as the “so-called surge”, and concludes with:

Under-reported subjects of the war include the plight of Iraqi civilians, Shi’ite-on-Shi’ite violence in southern Iraq and general events occurring outside Baghdad, journalists said.

How rich this is: reporters are complaining that there are unreported stories. Media-wide note to editors: get your staffs out of the Green Comfort Zone and REPORT ON THEM. Or at the very least have your Iraqi sources peek around a bit.

This is the functional equivalent of a bartender standing all day at his post with his hands in his pockets, refusing to acknowledge the many parched patrons vying for his attention, and then complaining at the end of the night that he did not sell any alcohol. Grab a tap and a bottle, chief.

That this piece was co-edited by a man named Alister Bull only begins to cover it. What we have here is the media and the pollsters working, again, seamlessly and as one, to self-assuage and reaffirm their work and their worldview, reality be damned.

When the news is bad, all of it is fit to print. But when things turn towards the better, and the Pollster no longer gets the results he wants from the American people, the news quickly devolves into a navel-gazing therapy session where the Pollster and the Journalist take turns as doctor and patient.

As with any disorder, the first step taken towards recovery is the acknowledgement of the problem at hand. With the media, we are nowhere near this sort of self-realization.

Until this happens, expect neither the convalescents nor their reporting to improve.