One-sided coverage on Iraq in U.S. media

Margaret Sullivan, public editor of The New York Times, does a good job in her column today of identifying ways in which the paper has amplified the hawkish voices who want the U.S. to intervene again in Iraq and downplayed views to the contrary. As she notes, this is especially disturbing given the paper's much-criticized coverage preceding the war in Iraq in 2003.

In analyzing the current coverage, Sullivan picks up on many of the same journalistic transgressions reflected in the 2003 coverage: excessive use of anonymous sources, coziness with administration officials, and shortage of opposing viewpoints.

Sullivan's role is limited to critiquing The Times, but what she writes applies to many other news organizations. In general, the hawks are getting much more coverage, with their steady criticism that President Obama has not been aggressive enough. The issue can obviously be framed in a much different way: Will it help this dismal situation if the U.S. commits troops or weaponry? Pax Christi USA offers this response:

In response to the recent unrest in Iraq and the possibility of the crisis continuing to spread, Pax Christi USA is unequivocal in its assertion that U.S. military intervention will not achieve the peace and stability that the people of Iraq deserve. A military solution—whether it include air strikes or ground troops or an increase in the flow of weapons into Iraq—will only serve to increase the suffering of the Iraqi people, not alleviate it. Furthermore, military intervention increases the risk of widening the conflict in the region.

As best as I can determine, that statement from June 17 wasn't carried anywhere before today.


Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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