Media Coverage of The Iraq War - U.S. Mainstream Media Coverage - Criticisms of Pro-invasion Bias

Criticisms of Pro-invasion Bias

A University of Maryland study on American public opinion found that:

  • Fifty-seven percent of mainstream media viewers believed the falsity that Iraq gave substantial support to Al-Qaeda, or was directly involved in the September 11 attacks (48% after invasion).
  • Sixty-nine percent believed the falsity that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11 attacks.
  • Twenty-two percent believed the falsity that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq. (Twenty-one percent believed that chem/bio weapons had actually been used against U.S. soldiers in Iraq during 2003)
  • In the composite analysis of the PIPA study, 80% of Fox News watchers had one or more of these misperceptions, in contrast to 71% for CBS and 27% who tuned to NPR/PBS.

In 2003, a study released by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting stated the network news disproportionately focused on pro-war sources and left out many anti-war sources. According to the study, 64% of total sources were in favor of the Iraq War while total anti-war sources made up 10% of the media (only 3% of US sources were anti-war). The study stated that "viewers were more than six times as likely to see a pro-war source as one who was anti-war; with U.S. guests alone, the ratio increases to 25 to 1."

FAIR also conducted a similar study in February 2004. According to the study, which took place during October 2003, current or former government or military officials accounted for 76 percent of all 319 sources for news stories about Iraq which aired on network news channels.

After the invasion, the editors of the New York Times apologized for its coverage of Hussein's alleged weapons programs, acknowledging that "we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims (related to Iraqi weapons programs) as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge."

During the invasion, critics argued that the mainstream media unduly focused on optimistic events, such as the toppling of a Saddam Hussein statue in Firdos Square, which was staged with the help of the U.S. military forces, thus downplaying more negative news developments. In particular, the mainstream media has been criticized for underreporting news about Iraqi civilian casualties, which are estimated to be anywhere between 100,000 and 650,000.

As the security situation in Iraq has worsened since the invasion, many journalists have found it increasingly difficult to report from Iraq without jeopardizing their lives. Some media outlets, unable to afford the cost of additional security, have even abandoned their bureaus in Baghdad. This trend has forced journalists to depend even more heavily on U.S. military sources, which has led some critics to call into question the impartiality of their reports on events such as the Iraqi elections.

A post-2008 election poll by FactCheck.org found that 48% of Americans believe Hussein played a role in the 9/11 attacks; the group concluded that "voters, once deceived, tend to stay that way despite all evidence."

Read more about this topic:  Media Coverage Of The Iraq War, U.S. Mainstream Media Coverage

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