Today, on the front page of The Washington Post, we see the third in a three-part series on roadside bombs in Iraq. The stories in this series have been centered on the top half of the page and highlighted in red (a device I don’t recall seeing before). Next to that is a huge headline about allegations of killings In Iraq by Blackwater. Below that is a headline that reads “Most in Poll Want War Funding Cut.” Meanwhile deep inside the paper, on page A14, we find the following article: “U.S. and Civilian Deaths Decrease Sharply in Iraq: American Military Credits Troop Influx.” True, nestled between the other screaming headlines on page one, there is a brief minuscule teaser for this far more positive story about Iraq. Yet the bias here is clear.
If the top story is Iraq, then I don’t see how you can put those three stories on the front page, while burying the other one on page 14. Arguably, an actual report of substantial positive progress in Iraq is more important, and more dramatic, than any of those other stories. By rights it ought to have been headlined on page one. The Post seems more interested in fighting our political battle over the Iraq than in reporting on it. So if the poll data the Post is pushing reflects less support for the war than it might, that clearly has a great deal to do with the way biased coverage by the Post is skewing public perceptions of the war. I’m not saying all is well or that success is inevitable–far from it. Yet the relative placement of these stories by the Post is profoundly biased and misleading.