In his speech this morning, President Bush blamed the media for ignoring the “quiet, steady progress” of reconstruction efforts in Iraq:
This is quiet, steady progress. It doesn’t always make the headlines in the evening news. But it is real and it is important. And it is unmistakable to those who see it close-up.
Afterwards, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews endorsed the remarks:
David Gregory, I was impressed again by the fact that he was taking a shot at the media, saying you are not going to hear about this economic development progress on the evening news.
Of course, it’s easy for Chris Matthews to bemoan the particulars of Iraq coverage from his Washington television studio. The truth is, the same problem that’s hampering Iraq’s reconstruction is also preventing journalists from covering the occassional openings of schools and hospitals: unrelenting insurgent violence. Rajiv Chandrasekaran, former Washington Post Baghdad bureau chief, explains:
I would posit that a lot of these projects — people say, oh, why didn’t you cover the opening of this new power station in Mahmudiyah? Well, it’s “the triangle of death.” You know, as a bureau chief there, I wasn’t going to risk putting my people’s lives on the line to go down for a photo op. As nice as it might have been, it’s simply too unsafe to get around and tell a lot of these stories. And so a lot of the coverage is, unfortunately, skewed by the fact that the on-the-ground realities of committing journalism in Iraq are such that you really can’t get out and do much of anything.
The important issue here isn’t press coverage — it’s that the Bush administration’s military strategy in Iraq is failing.