U.S. Progress in Iraq Receives Scant Coverage in NY Times, Wash Post in November

Kevin Mooney | December 2, 2008 | 8:46am EST
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(CNSNews.com) - While U.S. combat casualties in Iraq were at an all-time low in November 2008 – five reported combat deaths -- coverage of the war was sparse in The New York Times and The Washington Post compared with previous election cycles, an analysis of the Nexis news database shows.
In The New York Times, four front-page stories mentioned Iraq in the headline in November 2008 compared with 13 in November 2006, the last time a national election was held -- a drop of 70 percent. Most of those front-page stories in The New York Times concerned a security pact between U.S. and Iraqi officials.
Similarly, The Washington Post ran just four front-page stories with Iraq in headline in November 2008 compared with 15 in November 2006 -- a drop of 73 percent. One of last month’s reports focused on arms shipments from Bulgaria to Kurdish officials, while the other stories concerned the new security accord approved by the Iraqi Parliament.
Overall coverage of Iraq – not just front-page news -- in both papers also fell in November 2008 with The New York Times running 30 headline stories on Iraq versus 90 in November 2006 -- a decline of 67 percent. The Washington Post ran 33 headline stories about Iraq in November 2008 compared with 96 in November 2006 -- a drop of about 66 percent.
Front-page coverage and overall coverage also dropped from 2004 levels, the year President Bush won re-election. There were twice as many front-page stories mentioning Iraq in the headline in November 2004 than there were this past month.
The 30 headline reports appearing in The New York Times that mentioned Iraq in November 2008 compares with 60 the month Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic presidential contender -- a drop of 50 percent.
The four front-page headline reports on Iraq that ran this past November in The Washington Post compares with 12 in November 2004 -- a drop of about 67 percent. In terms of total headline reports on Iraq, the 33 that appeared in The Washington Post for November 2008 compares with 66 in November 2004 -- a decline of 50 percent.
Some U.S. officials have suggested the media have consciously turned their attention away from the war now that President Bush’s surge strategy has met with success. This point was made by Vice President Dick Cheney at the National Press Club earlier this year.
“I see just in general less reporting, less interest,” he said. “The fact is that people have got other things to worry about.  And there have been a lot of other issues to cover. I mean, we're in the middle of a presidential campaign. That's big news. Gasoline prices are $4 a gallon. That's big news. So it doesn't receive as much attention. Good news never does. That's just the way our system works.”
“But I do think — I think the surge has been enormously successful,” he said. “And anybody who looks objectively at where we are today in Iraq would have to conclude that we're in far better shape than we were just a couple of years ago.”
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