Bill Bennett provided a reality check on CNN’s The Situation Room this afternoon:
BLITZER: But you’re not suggesting — Bill, I don’t want to put words in your mouth — that the media is to blame for the horrible images that are coming out of Iraq?
BENNETT: No. But I think you and Jack earlier kind of missed what the American people are saying and making fun of the American people, as if they were castigating the media for being responsible for this war in Iraq isn’t the point. The American people are saying the mainstream media does not properly represent in a full and fair perspective the goods with the bads.
And Howie Kurtz backs that up. Howie Kurtz, who studies this, backs it up. If you watch, the mainstream media — a lot of it and I do a lot as much as I can — you clearly get the sense of negativity. It’s not analogous to saying, “We only report crimes and not peace in Washington, D.C.”
When you’re trying to make an assessment of where you should go and are you prevailing, are some things going well, almost all you get is negative, then that is leading to people’s assessment that the war is going badly, when, in fact, I think the war is going pretty well.
It’s not going well, though, in the mainstream media, and certainly public has been affected.
Bennett’s making an important distinction. Conservatives don’t think the news should be whitewashed. The violence and the horror are an unavoidable part of the story. What we’re saying — what people like Michael Yon are saying — is that there’s a broader story of Iraqi progress that’s not getting told because coverage of the violence overwhelms it.
The nation’s news organizations apparently like stories about rhetorical fallacies, but somehow I don’t think any AP reporters will be debunking the “conservative critic who thinks all bad news should be suppressed” straw man.