Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Reality bites
The idea that the American people are tuning out the "bad news media" rather than tuning out the president, may sound good to folks on the right, including good guys like Alex Nunez (whose post links to several interesting discussions on the topic of media coverage of Iraq), and who says the following about that coverage:

Three years' worth of negative stories from Iraq, filed without even a cursory attempt to show balance, have finally come back to haunt the MSM. The media people see this, and that's why they're trying to address the matter now by talking about the "perception" of bias on their part. That they're talking about it at all shows just how worried they are.

The narcissists in the elite media are coming to realize, finally, that the average American no longer sees them as credible providers of information, and they can't handle it. After all, what good are their monolithic soapboxes if people simply tune out what they're saying from them?
Not unusual sentiments for those on the right, but unfortunately, that view of how Americans feel about the war and the press simply isn't borne out by the myriad polls out there. Case in point:

The Public Weighs In On Media Coverage of Iraq

One of the questions in the new CBS Poll (pdf) dealt with how Americans feel about the way the media describe the situation in Iraq. The poll found that 24% of respondents felt the media were "making things in Iraq sound better than they really are," 31% felt the media were making things sound "worse than they really are," and 35% felt the media were "describing the situation in Iraq accurately." (10% did not give an answer.) ...

...To better understand these results, it's worth looking at the party breakdown of the responses. Among Republicans, perhaps unsurprisingly, only 8% thought the media were making things in Iraq sound better than they really are, whereas 57% thought the media were making things sound worse than they really are. 30% of Democrats, meanwhile, thought the media were making things sound better than they really are, and only 14% thought they were making things sound worse than they really are. (Democrats, incidentally, seem to have the most faith in the media, with 43% saying that the media were describing the situation in Iraq accurately. Only 30% of Republicans said the same.)

Now consider how people responded to the previous question, which asks respondents if they think George W. Bush, when he talks about how things are going for the United States in Iraq, is making things sound better than they are, worse than they are, or if he's describing the situation accurately. The key finding? 43% of Republicans think the president is making things in Iraq sound better than they actually are. That figure isn't quite as high as the percentage of Republicans who think the media is making things look worse than they are, but it's still quite high. That seems to suggest that while many Republicans don't totally trust what the media reports, they don't totally trust what the president says, either, and thus presumably conceive of the reality in Iraq as somewhere between the portrait painted by the press and the one painted by the president.

One more point to consider: while 26% of independents think the press is making things look worse than they are, a whopping 71% think the president is putting a happy face on the situation. The press' credibility may be relatively low among independents – only 31 percent said the media describe the situation in Iraq accurately – but it's better, at the moment, than that of the president when it comes to the war. ...
Read through the poll tabs yourself here.

The bottom line is that blaming the media may be a good political strategy to re-establish Bush's ties to his base, but it won't change either the situation on the ground in Iraq, or the public's perception of same. To change the public mood about Iraq, things are going to have to get much, much better over there. Period. To restate what I said in an earlier post, courtesy of a Randi Rhodes listener -- if there were that much good news coming out of Iraq, it would be playing in a loop, 20 hours a day on Fox News.

By the way, talk about redundancy: the Bush message to his peeps on Iraq is to "use the blogs" to push the "good news" about Iraq. Have they not read the sycophantic rantings of Powerline and other assorted online Bushbots?


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posted by JReid @ 4:57 PM  
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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