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View Full Version : On the castration of the press and the pathetic coverage of Iraq


minty green
01-12-2004, 12:59 AM
I am a news junkie. I read the local newspaper, I check the online versions of Newsweek and Time every Sunday afternoon to get the latest in-depth stories as soon as they're released, I check CNN.com a dozen times a day.

I see plenty of stories about the latest bomb to explode in Iraq, or announcing the death of the latest American soldier, or the latest non-event in the search for WMDs. But damn if I ever see anything about what it's like to be on the ground and outside "the bubble" in Iraq.

This morning, for the first time in a long time, one of those stories actually appeared. It's by a guy named Tod Robberson, a writer for The Dallas Morning News (http://www.dallasnews.com). Registration is required, but it's a pretty good newspaper, and they do not spam you.

The specific story is here: http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/sundayreader/stories/011104dnsuniraqfuture.644de.html

Some things you've undoubtedly heard about before (if you've been paying close attention, which most people haven't), like the sorry electricity supply, the gas shortages, and the ethnic/religious tensions. But in the ordinary course of reporting, those facts are rarely mentioned other than in passing, like they're theories best described in the abstract. "Sunnis are afraid of the Shiites. Everyone hates the Kurds. Britney's annuled wedding at 11."

Thank god for Mr. Robberson, who had quite a bit of interest to say about the situation in Iraq. A few quotes: I've covered Iraq through three wars across three decades, from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war to the chaotic fall of Baghdad in April. I've seen battlefields strewn with thousands of bodies, apparently gassed by Mr. Hussein's army. I've been on the receiving end of Scud missiles.

But never have the challenges facing this country seemed as complex and dangerous as they did during my most recent trip in November and December.

Religious and ethnic tensions are increasing. Opposing sides are arming. Roadside bombs and grenade attacks have become part of daily life, as have fuel lines and power outages. Everyone's patience is being pushed to the limit.

The good times Iraqis expected with the fall of Mr. Hussein's dictatorship have failed to materialize. Rightly or wrongly, in the eyes of many Iraqis, the United States is to blame for the current mess. It's doubly frustrating for them to live in a country with the second-largest petroleum reserves in the world, behind Saudi Arabia, and yet they have to wait 10 hours in line to fill their tanks.

I remember my shock the first time I drove the length of the waiting line outside a fuel station near my hotel. I started down the street from the station and worked my way around the corner, thinking, well, it probably only goes another quarter-mile or so.

Around the corner, the line went up the ramp to a two-mile-long bridge. I reached the crest of the bridge, and my heart jumped. I still couldn't see the end of the line. It went all the way to the other end of the bridge, then around a corner and another corner after that.

When news broke of Saddam Hussein's capture, I went to the bridge to interview motorists. The sound of celebratory gunfire was everywhere. U.S. troops, on their highest state of alert, were racing everywhere through the streets.

"Did you hear the news?" I asked Thayer Abbas, 43, a taxi driver.

"Yes. But did you know the police up ahead are taking bribes to let people cut in line? I've been waiting here since 8 this morning, and the police just let someone cut in line up there," he responded.

I thought maybe he hadn't understood the question. "Let's talk about Saddam Hussein's capture," I said.

"It's very good," he said, pausing. "But the Americans really should do something about the people trying to cut in line!" Rarely could I conduct an interview anywhere without hearing a litany of complaints from Iraqis about the American presence in their country. I constantly had to ask myself how I could report the concerns of Iraqis without incurring the wrath of readers back home who would accuse me of not quoting enough Iraqis with a positive view of the U.S. occupation. Increasingly, academics are turning to the history of Lebanon in search of answers to Iraq's dilemma, noting that both countries have disparate ethnic and religious groups competing for power, and both have predatory neighbors who want to exploit the instability.

More and more, Iraqis are wondering whether, like Lebanon, a long and devastating civil war might be in their future. If so, they ask, is the American military presence forestalling or hastening such a war? In April, even the most cynical of Iraqis were convinced that by now, 10 months after Mr. Hussein's ouster, at least minimal public services would have been restored. There is no telephone service for most of the country. Iraqis still line up for hours at fuel pumps. They have electricity sometimes for as few as four hours a day.
Yes, imports are booming, and there is an unprecedented supply of electronic goods for sale. But what good are they, Iraqis ask, if there's no electricity to run them?

Baghdad is a city of 5 million, nearly twice the size of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. A third of the population lives in neighborhoods constantly flooded with raw sewage.Sounds like a recipe for success, yes?

Seriously, though, can someone explain to me why such reports are so rare? Has the press turned into nothing more than a conduit for soundbytes, a cowed and beaten coward? Why the heck is it so darned rare to see such reporting about the situation on the ground?

Rashak Mani
01-12-2004, 01:17 AM
Reports from the ground depend on many factors:

- If you are taking the officially sponsored tour of Iraq like most Senators.
- How outside the protected areas you are.
- What your editor's bias and needs are too.
- Finally What your bias against or for the invasion is. For good or bad we all tend to distort "reality" to suit our views.

That is one reason I check into BBC and other non-American media often.

John Mace
01-12-2004, 01:23 AM
Gee, I found this interesting and fairly detailed report from ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/sections/wnt/GoodMorningAmerica/Iraq_assessment_031102.html) and this BBC article* (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2002/conflict_with_iraq/default.stm#) by doing a 10 second google search. They report very similar things to the article you are quoting.

I don't watch much network news, so I couldn't tell you much of what they are reporting. The 3 major cable news channels have done blurbs on what life is like for Iraqis in recent weeks.

*click on the "Life in Iraq" link.

45/70
01-12-2004, 01:30 AM
Reports like this are rare because it isn't gaudy enough to attract attention. For most of the viewing public, flashy carnage is what sells. When most don't care what goes on in their own neighblrhood, why would we expect they to worry about another country?

furt
01-12-2004, 01:34 AM
There are several dozen blogs being written by Iraqis themselves. Some are pessimistic, many are not.

http://iraqataglance.blogspot.com/
http://www.hammorabi.blogspot.com/
http://www.iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/
http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/

London_Calling
01-12-2004, 02:59 AM
I can't see any other way to assess the US media coverage other than on a country to country comparison, so it opens up the whole debate to numbskull nationalism or similar . . . hey ho.

Fwiw, I think an interesting starting place to consider the US-based coverage of all things Iraq is Murdoch. In the US he runs Fox, in the UK Sky. I dont see either but I am often told Sky isnt very different to the BBC. Ive not heard many good things about Fox. Why the difference between Fox and Sky ?

Well, perhaps its not surprising given that they are legally obligated though through different legal routes to present fair and unbiased news coverage. The BBC Charter requires more of that Org than does the Regulations governing private broadcasters but both methods are overseen and reviewed rigorously. This would seem to exclude even the potential for so-called 'Infotainment'. Strangled at birth.

Afaik, there are no obligation to do anything in the US save serve the corporate/capitalist agenda of owners and to not lose too much money.

Then there is the issue of diversity, or, as you term it, outside the bubble. I dont know why the situation is as you describe it. It certainly isnt reflected here, in electronic media or print the print media here is especially good on the wider issues concerning Iraq.

My best guess would be that the regulatory framework is flawed (if there is one at all); Id hazard that US media companies dont compete on the quality of what they offer, but on what people want to hear. This would seem to be the definition of dumbing down expectations of News and Current Affairs.

What's interesting is that I often hear Americans complaining of the coverage, so very many are aspiring to better quality. I take this as confirmation that the public do aspire to quality and my description of the UK market mechanism is not rose-tinted wishful thinking. People genuinely seem to desire quality.



For (news junkie) reference:

1. BBC gateway page to all things Iraq (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2002/conflict_with_iraq/default.stm) comprehensive coverage, populist

2.
Guardian Gateway page (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/0,2759,423009,00.html) Investigative style and thorough

3. Financial Times (http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/Page/SpecialLevel1&cid=1031119383196) Superb on reconstruction in general and reconstruction contracts in particular

4. Id also recommend searching out (on Google News) Robert Fisk of the Independent whos insights after 25 years are exceptionally nuanced

furt
01-12-2004, 07:23 AM
LC, That is the funniest thing I've read all week. I'm astonished you left Chomsky off the list.

Now I just want someone to come along and list Fox, Newsmax and Rush Limbaugh as their unbiased sources...

Desmostylus
01-12-2004, 07:29 AM
Go ahead, furt, list away.

furt
01-12-2004, 07:37 AM
Originally posted by Desmostylus
Go ahead, furt, list away. Sorry, I'm of the opinion that there ARE no unbiased sources. I'll read the Guardian, but also the Independant, and watch CNN, but also Fox, read Instapundit but also Josh Marshall, etc.

minty green
01-12-2004, 08:09 AM
FWIW, I'm not simply looking for other, similar stories. My thesis is that such stories are excessively rare, not that they do not exist at all.

John Mace
01-12-2004, 10:13 AM
LC:
So, let's get this straight. You never watch Fox, but are sure it's biased because you've heard rumors that it is. And you offer us a reason for why it is biased (even though you don't watch it). Wow, that's impressive!

dropzone
01-12-2004, 10:33 AM
Give it up, minty. This one seems to be turning into the pissing match that every other attempt at a balanced look at the war and its aftermath turns into.

Beagle
01-12-2004, 10:35 AM
Try this (http://electroniciraq.net/news/). You'll love that one.

This is more like IraqNN or Foxraq. (http://www.iraqdaily.com/)

This is weird. (http://server794.dnslive.net/~kovesji/home.shtml)

Now that CNN's buddy Saddam is gone, there are actual upstart news agencies that do something other than kiss Saddam's ass 24-7. Sometimes it's an improvment.

Usama has made it clear that his battleground is Iraq, as predicted. So, what should we expect? All things considered, the foreign policy situation is far brighter than it was during the 1990s and early 2000s -- just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Terrorism continues... That's news now because Bush can be blamed. Meanwhile, back in 1993, the first WTC was treated as an ordinary street crime. Clinton missed his golden opportunity to create a real foreign policy legacy for himself. He was far more intellectually capable -- but most importantly was perceived as sitting on another side of the invisible political fence. Therefore, Clinton could have taken out Saddam in 1998 without much in the way of international consternation, well, compared to what Bush gets anyway.

I won't downplay it. Clinton would have had the extreme right carping (some things never change -- substitute Bush for Clinton or left for right). Moreover, the hate-America left throughout the world wants us dead. It's not a question of just kissing the right ass. Similarly, the Islamists are perhaps more dangerous.

As always it comes down to: your solution is? I know, discuss things with Chiraq and Evilpain.

minty green
01-12-2004, 08:37 PM
My, what a lovely rant. Now, would you care to address the actual question I posed in the OP?

minty green
01-12-2004, 08:39 PM
Damn you and your automatic sigs, vBulletin!

John Mace
01-12-2004, 08:56 PM
Minty:

As noted in my first post in this thread, it is possible to find some interesting reports pretty easily on the web. But I do agree with you in that I wish the major news outlets (papers, cable) would give periodic (monthly?) updates on how things stand. Sort of like what any company would do for a major project like this: regular Operations Reviews comparing progress in the major areas (security, employment, utilities, oil production, etc.) against the goals that were set. In fact, I've never even seen anything outlining what the goals are, other than very broad, high level goals like having the Interim Gov't running things by this coming summer.

New Iskander
01-13-2004, 12:51 PM
Seriously, though, can someone explain to me why such reports are so rare? ... Why the heck is it so darned rare to see such reporting about the situation on the ground?The number of such reports must be exactly equal to the number of journalists willing to do real investigative reporting and being able to secure the support of their publications in doing so. I've read a few other good reports on real life in Iraq, tainted both right and left. Strictly speaking, whether such reports are "darned rare" or "overdone" is a matter of opinion.

Sam Stone
01-13-2004, 09:21 PM
The reason there are so few first-hand reports from Iraq in the mainstream press is because the press does a really lousy job of covering things like this.

Most foreign press coverage consists of a bunch of reporters flocking to the nicest hotel in the biggest city, venturing out a few blocks if at all, interviewing a couple of people, and then hanging out in the bar. Because of this, the press is an easy target for manipulation. I used to bitch about this stuff in the old Soviet Union days - reporters who go to the Soviet Union, get shown a Potemkin Village, get a tour of the opera house or a stadium, and be 'allowed' to interview people who were either stooges or ordinary citizens painfully aware that the nice American was standing with a KGB agent.

How much first-hand reporting did you hear coming out of Rwanda? Or any number of troubled places?

There are still good reports coming from places like this, but almost all of them from independent journalists and writers like Mark Steyn, P.J. O'Rourke, Thomas Friedman, etc. Most of these people have some sort of agenda, so you have to read carefully.

My suggestion would be to go right to the source. Read those Iraqi blogs, and follow the links to other Iraq resources. There are a number of Iraq newspapers on the web now that you can read. There are also some good Iranian, Kuwaiti, and other middle-eastern journals and newspapers that have good info in them, but you have to remember to filter their biases out.

The mainstream media sucks.

Duck Duck Goose
01-13-2004, 10:45 PM
Afaik, there are no obligation to do anything in the US save serve the corporate/capitalist agenda of owners and to not lose too much money...Id hazard that US media companies dont compete on the quality of what they offer, but on what people want to hear.
I thought this addressed the OP very well.

I don't browse CNN.com to get "news"--I browse CNN.com to see what's happenin' in the world lately. There's a difference.

John Mace
01-13-2004, 10:46 PM
For those interested, there is a Frontline (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/beyond/dispatches/) show scheduled for February 12th in which the reporter specifically set out to report on Iraq "outside of Baghdad".

Zoe
01-14-2004, 12:52 AM
Furt, what news organization or broadcast or publication do you consider a reliable source for unbiased information?

Do I understand you correctly that you see the BBC as more or less a liberal counterpart to Fox news and Rush Limbaugh?

Duckster
01-14-2004, 02:38 AM
I actually find some of the best links, along with analysis of the news right here on the SDMB! Seriously, Dopers may argue and attempt to sway others via their own web links, but there appears to be sufficient diversity and real web searching to find quality reports and news analysis. When you really get down to brass tacks, many Dopers have web search abilities and a nack for real news sniffing much better than the "journalists" who are supposed to be doing this as a job.

An ironic twist to this is every so often a thread here, along with the resulting critical eye from the Dopers, seems to be the basis for a more public corporate media story in the mainstream press. Now I am not suggesting some of these media types actually lurk on the SDMB for stories. However, it is sometime uncanny how a well used thread on issues makes it to the mainstream press (TV as well as print) around six to eight weeks after a "discussion" on the very subject right here.

Mehitabel
01-14-2004, 11:53 PM
Uhm...some guy named Ted Koppell, who has this obscure little show on late at night, has been in Iraq all week. He's retracing the route he took during the original invasion and seeing how people are doing, talking directly to them. He's reached Baghdad now, though, but he's still asking pretty tough questions--right now he's grilling Paul Bremer himself. A transcript should be up at abcnews.com pretty soon. And I've seen (and linked) to plenty of articles about life in the new Iraq, some even in the media-oriented NY Observer.

Scylla
01-15-2004, 12:02 AM
When you say "castration of the press" I am assuming that you mean someone has done the castrating.

In your links and your posts I'm not seeing anything about this.

Are you really saying that the press has been castrated in Iraq, or merely that the press seems impotent and isn't doing a very good job, or something else?

minty green
01-15-2004, 12:21 AM
I express no opinion at this point regrading the manner in which the press came to be castrated.

I do, however, remark upon your remarkable ability to count and discount my "links," given that I provided only one substantive link.

Scylla
01-15-2004, 12:44 AM
.

I do, however, remark upon your remarkable ability to count and discount my "links," given that I provided only one substantive link.


There are actually two links in your post, hence the plural. I realize they are related, but the fact is that there are two actual links within your post. The fact that there are more than one, means that you have "links" in your post.

The simple use of the plural is not predicated by whether or not the links are substantive or not. They remain "links."

I cannot imagine why you find this remarkable or worthy of focussing on. To me it seems an innane if not anally retentive nitpick that lacks even the merit of being correct. You certainly appear to be straining to find issue with my post.

I express no opinion at this point regrading the manner in which the press came to be castrated.

Allrighty. I was under the impression that this would be a debate where positions would be taken. Will we be having punch and pie while I wait?

London_Calling
01-15-2004, 01:50 AM
LC:
So, let's get this straight. You never watch Fox, but are sure it's biased because you've heard rumors that it is. And you offer us a reason for why it is biased (even though you don't watch it). Wow, that's impressive!

Sure, John Mace, because I really am that fu*king stupid. Thank goodness we've got people like you to help us all out.

For anyone who has a longer memory than a goldfish and can't find the much cited survey:


Misperceptions, The Media and The Iraq War (http://www.pipa.org/)

"A majority of Americans have held at least one of three mistaken impressions about the U.S.-led war in Iraq, according to a new study released Thursday, and those misperceptions contributed to much of the popular support for the war.

The three common mistaken impressions are that:


U.S. forces found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.


There's clear evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein worked closely with the Sept. 11 terrorists.


People in foreign countries generally either backed the U.S.-led war or were evenly split between supporting and opposing it.

Overall, 60 percent of Americans held at least one of those views in polls reported between January and September by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, based at the University of Maryland in College Park, and the polling firm, Knowledge Networks based in Menlo Park, Calif."

etc, etc . . .

John Mace
01-15-2004, 02:17 AM
Sure, John Mace, because I really am that fu*king stupid. Thank goodness we've got people like you to help us all out.

For anyone who has a longer memory than a goldfish and can't find the much cited survey:


Misperceptions, The Media and The Iraq War (http://www.pipa.org/)
Yes, someone with the intellegence of a goldfish would take that survey as conclusive proof that FOX is a biased news source. Probably because goldfish don't understand the concept of causal fallacies (http://www.datanation.com/fallacies/causal.htm), several of which apply to the conclusions drawn in that study.

London_Calling
01-15-2004, 02:33 AM
Well, feel free to walk us through how you think that applies to this particular survey because then we have something to talk about. All I’m seeing at the moment is someone who tells us what a laugh he’s having before driving off to another thread.

Are you sure you’re not in the wrong forum?


Or, alternatively, address the points in my post, which, under the circumstances, I’d better spell out even more clearly for you:

1. A media that is not required by law to produce fair and balanced reporting will only serve the agenda of those it represents, and
2. To ensure a media that presents fair and balanced reporting, an independent
regulatory structure with power of serious sanction is a valid mechanism to overcome the self-serving agendas of corporate owned media.

John Mace
01-15-2004, 10:51 AM
Well, feel free to walk us through how you think that applies to this particular survey because then we have something to talk about. All Im seeing at the moment is someone who tells us what a laugh hes having before driving off to another thread.
A believes B. A watches C. Therefore A learned B by watching C. Nope.

Or, alternatively, address the points in my post, which, under the circumstances, Id better spell out even more clearly for you:

1. A media that is not required by law to produce fair and balanced reporting will only serve the agenda of those it represents, and

2. To ensure a media that presents fair and balanced reporting, an independent regulatory structure with power of serious sanction is a valid mechanism to overcome the self-serving agendas of corporate owned media.

You're making 2 bold statements without proof. The survey you cited (you know-- the one I was supposed to read your mind about in your first post) is so narrowly focused on one topic that even if we ignore the causal fallacies it assumes, cannot be generalized so broadlly. Also, assuming #1 to be true, #2 simply subsititutes another agency for the one whose agenda is being represented in #1. The two agencies may self-correct, and they may not. And it is precisely the fear of "power of serious sanctions" that leads to the 1st amendment of the US constitution.

elucidator
01-15-2004, 12:45 PM
Somewhat buggers the question, John. Are you pleased that so many Americans hold views that are clearly false? (Note that I am granting, in advance, that you are too intelligent and aware to hold these views yourself. If I have mis-overestimated you, please advise)

John Mace
01-15-2004, 01:43 PM
Somewhat buggers the question, John. Are you pleased that so many Americans hold views that are clearly false?

I don't think it necessarily buggers the question. Surveys consistently show that Americans hold all kinds of unsupportable beliefs: UFOs, ESP, Angels, etc. And this extends to politics as well. It's been true from the beginning of the Republic until now, and yet we've managed to bumble our way into creating and maintaining a pretty damn good good country.

One can hope that the collective wisdom of the electorate cancels out the more whacky ideas. You are the guys who likes to hope, right?:)

elucidator
01-15-2004, 01:56 PM
An attribute I assume we hold in common.

But you didn't answer the question, John, you answered another question entirely. Does the prevalence of these beliefs please you? If someone expresses one of those opinions, do you feel bound to contradict them?

As to the silly beliefs commonly held by the Public, God bless 'em, I submit that it is a different kind of misinformation, specificly, misinformation that is acted upon, at great cost in blood and treasure. I am not particularly dismayed by the publics belief in UFO's unless Fearless Misleader should propose a pre-emptive invasion of Mars, which is, of course, perfectly....

Oh, dear. Naw, that's too fuckin' crazy. Isn't it?

John Mace
01-15-2004, 02:17 PM
But you didn't answer the question, John, you answered another question entirely. Does the prevalence of these beliefs please you? If someone expresses one of those opinions, do you feel bound to contradict them?

As to the silly beliefs commonly held by the Public, God bless 'em, I submit that it is a different kind of misinformation, specificly, misinformation that is acted upon, at great cost in blood and treasure. I am not particularly dismayed by the publics belief in UFO's...

Not pleased, but not particularly bothered either. At least not in the sense of being surprised. The UFO example was just easier to reference than other incorrect beliefs held by many in the political/economic realm.

ElvisL1ves
01-15-2004, 02:34 PM
Sam, can we take that to mean that you're no longer going to grace us with breathless, adoring articles about how swimmingly things are going in Iraq without first checking to see if the writer ever left the Green Zone? 'Tis devoutly to be wished.

John, some of us do see a difference worth observing between harmless misbeliefs (UFO's) and ones that get wars started and people killed. But maybe it's all the same to you.

Milum
01-15-2004, 10:23 PM
On the castration of the press and the pathetic coverage of Iraq

I looked beyond the hyperbole of minty green's opening proposition in search of a talking point to present in opposition . In vain.

Instead I'd just like to say that the on-ground press in Iraq is not at all castrated, and only the doom and gloom coverage of Iraq by so-called "rare" reporters of whom minty green admires so much, can be called sad and pathetic.

Sam Stone
01-15-2004, 10:29 PM
Sam, can we take that to mean that you're no longer going to grace us with breathless, adoring articles about how swimmingly things are going in Iraq without first checking to see if the writer ever left the Green Zone? 'Tis devoutly to be wished.


The context in which I was posting some of those messages was as a counter to the absolute defeatest messages we were getting from other quarters, claiming that Iraq was a disaster, the people all hate the U.S., the insurgency had widespread support from the population, the country was cracking up into civil war, yada yada yada. Remember those?

The real situation on the ground is complex. The people are ecstatic that Saddam is gone, but wary of the U.S. presence. They want the U.S. gone, but they want them to stay because they are worried about civil war. The Sunnis are worried about their loss of status and prestige, but they are happy that Saddam is gone. Etc. Overall, there is widespread support for the invasion having taken place, and widespread support for the general idea of the coalition's plans, but much skepticism about the details and a lot of anger about specific goings-on.

jshore
01-16-2004, 12:26 AM
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Instead I'd just like to say that the on-ground press in Iraq is not at all castrated, and only the doom and gloom coverage of Iraq by so-called "rare" reporters of whom minty green admires so much, can be called sad and pathetic.

I agree, man. All this doom and gloom sucks! Let's hear happy news...You know the way it would be covered if a totalitarian country was controlling things. Hell, I am sure that if Saddam Hussein had conquerred the U.S. [you know, with that massive arsenal of WMDs ;) ] then you wouldn't be hearing any nambie-pambie sad and pathetic stories about things here in the Iraqi media!

[And, if all those Fox News watchers end up believing lots of stuff that just ain't so, well, they voted for Fox in the marketplace everytime they tuned their TV sets to that channel. And, as we know, the market is the only just, infallable, and non-coercive way to decide anything in our society.]

jshore
01-16-2004, 12:41 AM
Yes, someone with the intellegence of a goldfish would take that survey as conclusive proof that FOX is a biased news source. Probably because goldfish don't understand the concept of causal fallacies (http://www.datanation.com/fallacies/causal.htm), several of which apply to the conclusions drawn in that study.

John, while it is true that correlation does not equal causation and, indeed, I am sure that the viewers of Fox News are somewhat of a self-selected bunch, does it not bother you that so few of these viewers seemed to have their incorrect viewers disabused by watching Fox? And, particularly...Does it not bother you that of those who watched Fox as their major news source, the ones who claimed to be following the news on Iraq most closely were the ones least likely to be disabused of these incorrect "facts"?

mhendo
01-16-2004, 03:34 AM
A believes B. A watches C. Therefore A learned B by watching C. Nope. True enough in any single instance. And, even when applied to larger groups, still not conclusive proof of causation.

But when the figures for correlation are high enough, one can justifiably begin to draw some conclusions about the connections. It's certainly true that the causal direction is unclear. Perhaps the real question that comes out of this survey, then, is:

Does watching FOX tend to make people ignorant, or do more ignorant people watch FOX?

mhendo
01-16-2004, 03:35 AM
I should add:

My bet is that it's a system of mutal reinforcement.

David Simmons
01-16-2004, 03:40 AM
[QUOTE=John Mace]I don't think it necessarily buggers the question. Surveys consistently show that Americans hold all kinds of unsupportable beliefs: UFOs, ESP, Angels, etc. QUOTE]

True, but were people who held such unsupportable beliefs elected to positions of national leadership? Or thrust into such positions by a 1 vote marging in the Supreme Court?

This is off the OP, but having experienced the candidates produced by the primary system, I am liking the old smoke-filled room better all of the time.