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Ministry of Truth: Iraq is fun!

August 28, 2007 | Death,Dignitary visits,Ethics,Iraq,Journalism,Military,MSM,PR

All you see among the talking heads is that another soldier was killed today. It must be taken into perspective. How many people were killed in Washington, D.C., at the same time? — Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., criticizing media coverage of Iraq after his visit there when rockets damaged an American-occupied hotel in Baghdad (Bucks County Courier Times, Sept. 29, 2003).


According to this chart, Washington, D.C., had about 250 murders in 2003. That’s 4.8 people killed every week.

In 2003 in Iraq:

That’s 12,930 people who died in Iraq, or 248 a week, the equivalent of people killed in D.C. in the entire year. What exactly was his point anyway? When just “another soldier was killed today,” what does he want the “talking heads” to report?

Maybe someone who works for the Ministry of Truth government can answer that.

Susan Phalen is a senior adviser for Iraq communications for the U.S. Department of Stateand oversees the Global Outreach Team for the U.S. Embassy Public Affairs Section. She has been to Iraq nine times as a public-affairs team leader. Phalen spoke Friday, Aug. 24, 2007, at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., at a luncheon held by the Conservative Women’s Network of the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute. The speech aired on C-SPAN. (I can’t get the video link to work, but maybe it will show up in the archives.)

She talked about “what’s happening in Iraq that you’re not getting from the media.” She described her work as “fun” several times.

In an interview published April 9, 2007, in the Omaha World-Herald, Phalen said:

Our goal is to try to show the American taxpayers what’s happening over here and what the story is beyond the bloodshed and the car bombs.

Almost in the same breath, she described living in the Green Zone where “rockets and mortars sometimes fly inside and explode.” She said that a rocket recently blew up just outside of a building where she was, killing several people and wounding several others.

Those of us on the inside tried to rush back out because we could hear screaming. But we couldn’t get out. They locked the building down. It was a very intense and emotional little while.

Yeah, sounds like fun! to me.

In an interview published April 26, 2007, by the Lincoln Journal-Star, the story Phalen told went “beyond the blood and the bombs” to the “good news” of Iraq. On this particular day, she visited the Army hospital in the Green Zone and found six children:

  • a malnourished 13-month-old named Shahar whose parents were killed by an IED (improvised explosive device).
  • a 7-year-old named Mohammed whose mouth was wired open because a sniper’s bullet pierced his jaw and cheek.
  • a 5-year-old named Zaib who was caught in crossfire and shot in the stomach.
  • a 10-year-old girl, who shares a room with her father; both were injured by an IED that killed her mother.
  • a 10-year-old boy, who was shot in the stomach.
  • a girl who could have been 6 or 10, who died by the time Phalen returned to the hospital that afternoon.

Hold on. I just lost my train of thought there for a second. Someone help me out here (because the reporter certainly didn’t). What was the “good news” part of this story again?

Back to her luncheon speech, Phalen criticized journalists for not leaving Baghdad to cover the rest of Iraq, which she does regularly, under full security by the U.S. military. They’re missing out on some good stories, she said.

Sigh. Tsk, tsk. Those journalists. They just don’t know how to have fun!

Wall Street Journal reporter Farnaz Fassihi was removed from Iraq for a “scheduled vacation” after she described an unfun Iraq in an e-mail to family and friends in 2004. It leaked and made the rounds in cyberspace. She wrote a diary for Columbia Journalism Review, eventually returned from vacation (newly assigned to Lebanon) and wrote an article about Iraq in 2006.

Sig Christenson, a military writer for the San Antonio Express-News, was in Baghdad the day Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., toured a Baghdad market in April 2007, declared it fun! and then later complained in the Washington Post about how journalists reported only bad news. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said the Baghdad market was just like a normal outdoor market back home in Indiana.

Christenson called bullshit in an Aug. 6, 2007, article on Nieman Watchdog. He said nothing in Iraq is normal, except death:

You can’t put lipstick on this little pig and pass it off as life in Indiana.

Yeah, but is it fun?

Posted by Becky @ 9:49 pm  

One Response to “Ministry of Truth: Iraq is fun!”

  1. PunditMom Says:

    Wouldn’t want the truth to get out now, would we?

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