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Al-Qaeda in Iraq

If you assume that people are reading the entire article rather than just scanning the headlines and reading a few graphs, then Jim Ruttenberg and Mark Mazzetti have an excellent piece about the administration’s claims about Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s relationship to the terrorist group that attacked us on 9/11 and how those claims significantly distort our best understanding of the issue. On the other hand, a person who just read the headline and then got bored after four or five grafs is going to walk away having missed all the excellent analysis.

I don’t blame the reporters for this, as such. They’ve taken the relevant facts and properly assembled them into inverted pyramid format — and that’s their job. But canny politicians have just gotten way too good at manipulating the media’s conventions. There needs to be a way of writing this kind of story such that the incentives actually work against making these kind of misleading claims.

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