The real news from Iraq

What would news coverage look like if the Bush administration could design it?

By Tim Grieve

Published June 28, 2005 3:56PM (EDT)

The White House complains that the news being reported from Iraq ignores the good and accentuates the bad -- that it plays up all the "hard work" while ignoring the "progress" about which we should all be so pleased. So what would media coverage of Iraq look like if the White House got to design it? Resisting the obligatory Fox News sneer here, we'll direct you instead to the home page of the U.S. Department of Defense.

On a day when the mainstream press is reporting on the suicide bomber who killed a member of Iraq's National Assembly, the Defense Department has other news to share: It's the first anniversary of the hand-over of sovereignty, and it's apparently time to celebrate the "extraordinary achievements" we've all seen since then. There are pictures from the hand-over, a copy of the note Condoleezza Rice passed to the president -- the one on which he wrote, "Let freedom reign!" -- and a quotation from the president about how the hand-over came on a "day of great hope."

Now, the cynics among us -- and you know who you are -- might suggest that those hopes haven't been fulfilled. But the Pentagon has news for you. The top stories today? "U.S., Iraqi Leaders Mark First Anniversary," "Focus Belong on Progress, Not Violence," "Rumsfeld Praises Iraq for Outreach Effort," and "Momentum in Iraq Favors Democracy." The "related stories"? "Progress in Iraq Takes Back Seat to Violence in Media," "Rumsfeld Clarifies Status of Iraqi Security Forces," "Myers: Strategy Right, U.S. Must Stay Course in Iraq," "Abizaid: Insurgents Have 'No Chance'," "Despite Perception, War in Iraq Going Well," "World Community Pledges to Support Free, Democratic Iraq," and "Political Process Will Stay on Course."

There's not a word on the Defense Department's home page about any of the 1,743 U.S. troops who have been killed in Iraq. But we found reports about some of them deeper inside the Defense Department Web site -- in a section called "Press Resources."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Iraq Middle East Pentagon War Room