Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Don't Hold Your Breath

President Bush's comments taken out of context by media outlets? Say it isn't so. Michelle Malkin and Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette hope to set the record straight:
QUESTION: Since the inception of the Iraqi war, I'd like to know the approximate total of Iraqis who have been killed. And by Iraqis I include civilians, military, police, insurgents, translators.

THE PRESIDENT: How many Iraqi citizens have died in this war? I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis. We've lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq.
Can we parse this for a moment?

For starters, the President answered a different question than what was asked as he rephrased the question. Iraqi citizens means civilians, Iraqi military, Iraqi police, some translators, and potentially some insurgents. It excludes our own losses (which he answered separately), as well as the foreign jihadists. Further, the President didn't distinguish between who did the killing and when. He simply provided a fact that 30,000 citizens were killed. Whether that entire figure was civilian, military, police, insurgent, or some combination of the above was not broken out by the President.

Then, there's the conflation of civilians, military, police, and insurgents. The media, with Reuters as the prototypical outlet, left off all the other categories, and instead stated that 30,000 civilians died (coinicidentally in a report on elections in Iraq). That's not what the President said, even in the most liberal reading of the transcript. Civilians do not equal citizens.

Instead, the headlines key on 30,000 and civilians. The rest? Forgotten. And that's all that most folks will get out of what Bush said yesterday.

But remember. The media is on your side. They just don't mention which side that is.

UPDATE 12/14/2005:
Michelle Malkin reports that the headline at the SF Chronicle was changed after folks emailed demanding a correction. A correction was made, but without any corresponding explanation in or accompanying the article. Go figure.

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