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Thursday, March 23, 2006  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Here’s the transcript for last night’s discussion on Anderson Cooper’s program. Here’s the video. Unfortunately, the network lost Michael Yon’s feed midway through the segment. I suggest that Howard Kurtz spend some time with Yon as a counterpoint to the MSM apologists who assert that the reporting from Iraq is thorough, balanced, and the best that can be accomplished under difficult circumstances.

And be sure to read Ralph Peter’s “Dude, Where’s My Civil War?” Peters searing criticism:

So what did I learn from a day in the dust and muck of Baghdad’s less-desirable boroughs? As the long winter twilight faded into haze and the fires of the busy shawarma stands blazed in the fresh night, I felt that Iraq was headed, however awkwardly, in the right direction.

The country may still see a civil war one day. But not just yet, thanks. Violence continues. A roadside bomb was found in the next sector to the west. There will be more deaths, including some of our own troops. But Baghdad’s vibrant life has not been killed. And the people of Iraq just might surprise us all.

So why were we told that Iraq was irreversibly in the throes of civil war when it wasn’t remotely true? I think the answers are straightforward. First, of course, some parties in the West are anxious to believe the worst about Iraq. They’ve staked their reputations on Iraq’s failure.

But there’s no way we can let irresponsible journalists off the hook – or their parent organizations. Many journalists are, indeed, brave and conscientious; yet some in Baghdad – working for “prestigious” publications – aren’t out on the city streets the way they pretend to be.

They’re safe in their enclaves, protected by hired guns, complaining that it’s too dangerous out on the streets. They’re only in Baghdad for the byline, and they might as well let their Iraqi employees phone it in to the States. Whenever you see a column filed from Baghdad by a semi-celeb journalist with a “contribution” by a local Iraqi, it means this: The Iraqi went out and got the story, while the journalist stayed in his or her room.

And the Iraqi stringers have cracked the code: The Americans don’t pay for good news. So they exaggerate the bad.

And some of them have agendas of their own.

A few days ago, a wild claim that the Baghdad morgue held 1,300 bodies was treated as Gospel truth. Yet Iraqis exaggerate madly and often have partisan interests. Did any Western reporter go to that morgue and count the bodies – a rough count would have done it – before telling the world the news?

I doubt it.

If reporters really care, it’s easy to get out on the streets of Baghdad. The 506th Infantry Regiment – and other great military units – will take journalists on their patrols virtually anywhere in the city. Our troops are great to work with. (Of course, there’s the danger of becoming infected with patriot- ism . . .)

I’m just afraid that some of our journalists don’t want to know the truth anymore.

The old days when MSM could create any reality it wanted, and defend it from the position of exclusive access to the “news” are long gone. For every Michael Ware, there is a Michael Yon…and a Ralph Peters, a Victor Davis Hanson, A Robert Kaplan, a Laura Ingraham, a Michael Totten.

The American public no longer suspects it is being fed an anti-Adminsitration and often anti-American line.

Now it knows it is being fed those lines.

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