Todd Manzi

The Associated Press has caused some U.S. soldiers to lose their lives. The terrorists know they cannot defeat us militarily. They understand the only way they can win is if our military withdraws because the American people stop supporting the war. 

Terrorists are trying to get their message across to us, but instead of issuing press releases, they are killing our troops.

We know how important the will of the American people is regarding the war. Doesn’t the will of the terrorists matter also? If their cause looks lost, they will attack less. If they think they have a chance to win, they will attack more. The irresponsible, antiwar-biased reporting from the Associated Press over the last four months can only have encouraged our enemy to keep trying. Terrorists may have been given the false hope that all is not lost for them.

The facts:

The Rasmussen Poll taken July 13th and 14th indicated 44% of Americans thought the U.S. was winning the War on Terror. 

Meantime, the AP’s August coverage of Cindy Sheehan had an extreme antiwar bias. AP reporters propped up Sheehan and issued dispatches that looked more like editorial commentary than news. Like the terrorists, the antiwar movement was motivated to act based on the prospect of getting press coverage. The AP and the mainstream media claimed people rallied to support Sheehan, but they actually scampered down to Crawford because they knew receptive reporters were waiting to greet them. A news cycle friendly to the antiwar movement was in place, and like moths to a flame, the antiwar zealots flew to Camp Casey. 

The antiwar campaign worked. The Rasmussen Poll taken August 10th and 11th indicated a 6% drop down to 38% of respondents who thought we were winning the war. Knowing he had to respond, the president planned an aggressive push for his message. Unfortunately, the hurricanes blew the news cycle in a different direction, and President Bush was forced to wait to make his case.

The president’s speech on October 6th at the National Endowment for Democracy marked the beginning of the administration’s attempt to counter the damage caused by antiwar reporting in August. The speech was followed by the release of an intercepted letter from our enemy’s leadership. A couple of days later, on October 13th, President Bush had a video teleconference with troops in Iraq. The AP did not report anything of substance about the message contained in these three events.  Instead, they created a false news cycle regarding the supposed staging of the teleconference. 

The effect of AP’s antiwar emphasis showed up in the Rasmussen Poll taken October 15th and 16th. There was only a 1% recovery in the numbers: 39% of Americans thought we were winning the war. In early August, Sheehan’s antiwar message was packaged for maximum impact, and poll numbers went down. In early October, the president’s message was not reported and poll numbers stayed down.

In the coming months, the message of congressional Democrats and the antiwar movement were given maximum media attention. The Senate shutdown, Rep. John Murtha's comments, and constant updates of the U.S. death toll, etc. were touted. Conversely, the AP stifled the president’s message. President Bush’s October 25th speech, approval of the Iraqi constitution, President Bush’s Veterans Day speech, Congress’ vote against Murtha, Sen. Lieberman's positive reports from Iraq, etc. were ignored or reported with negative antiwar-bias.

In total, a false impression, a much more negative impression, of American support for the war was conveyed to our enemy. The truth, which could not be ignored, is reflected in President Bush’s powerful speech on November 30th. What did the AP think of the speech? “[The] speech did not break new ground or present a new strategy.” What did the American people think of the speech? The Rasmussen Poll taken November 30th and December 1st indicates 48% of Americans now believe the U.S. is winning the war. The best explanation for the nine-point bounce from the October poll is clearly that the speech provided new information to a large portion of the population.   

Anyone who looks at the events, the news coverage and the Rasmussen polling information must conclude the American people were misinformed about the war.  Ironically, if another industry were to under deliver to this extent, it would be news.  The AP would be all over it and newspapers would print it.

Newspapers are in a position to hold the AP accountable to objectivity. Even if they are rooting for the terrorists to win, you think they would at least be concerned about the credibility of their product. For some reason, the newspaper industry does not care that the AP is biased. Newspaper editors are like ostriches with their heads in the sand.

I asked Scott Bosley, the executive director of American Society of Newspaper Editors, what he thought about the Associated Press’ antiwar bias. Bosely’s opinion:

“The AP is not biased. It covers stories episodically, attempting to put them in context.”

The consequence of the AP’s coverage of the War on Terror: they have allowed themselves to become a pawn of our enemy. The terrorists are as cunning as they are evil, and they have incorporated media coverage as part of their strategy to win the war. Intuitively, the AP and the rest of the mainstream media understand that the promise or hope for press coverage influences behavior. After all, every year the public relations industry spends billions of dollars hoping to position their clients’ message in the media.


Todd Manzi

Todd Manzi is a Townhall.com media critic.

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