Saturday, May 21, 2005

The BBC Record is Stuck. Still

The title of the BBC article is "Iraqi living standards 'plummet'" people skimming the headlines will shake their heads and say that it is perfect proof that the U.S. presence is causing the country to spiral out of control. This is not long after NBC nightly news quoted a government memo (another one) from an unnamed government official (another one, or possibly the same one who did not see but thought they saw a memo about a report on a sewer bound Koran) as declaring that Iraq was in a state of civil war.

Funny how there can be a civil war going on with only one news agency noticing. Is it still on? Where is the front line located? So many questions, so few journalists. The media have stopped showing footage of Iraq during the day because the site of cars and markets is confusing to the viewers. Night footage helps convey the fact that nearly all Iraqis are now dead and only the most violent survivors patrol the streets in a Mad Max kind of world while the dogs and the journalists (both of them) sneak across the post apocalyptic landscape at night.

Wonderful article but I might point out a few things to people who were too depressed by the headline to click on the article.

The living standards which the BBC says have plummeted are measured over the last 25 years. They even grudgingly admit that part of that problem may kind have been caused by factors that predate the invasion.

Another thing I would like to point out is that the BBC seems to have, in all good faith, seems to have... shall we say, not noticed something:

"Iraqis living in Baghdad, for example, now only have about ten hours of electricity each day, half of what they enjoyed in 2003."

You see, during Saddam's time, he had some tasks that required electricity. Things like bathing yourself in riches while your country starves and running a totalitarian state require a certain amount of electricity so he had the grid set up in such a way that most of the countries electricity was directed to Baghdad and very few people living near the power plants had electricity service anything like what was being delivered to Baghdad and even at that the BBC admits (accidentally) that back in the pre-American glory days they were getting only 20 hours a day. Either the BBC reporters and editors don't know this which means they don't have anyone on staff who researches Iraq (Hell even I knew this) or they knew and did not think this information was necessary for its readers to grasp the editorial bent they were trying to get across.

They end the article with a series of displays showing the crappy state of the infrastructure in different parts of Iraq. There is no sense of how the rates have changed over time. Even a estimate would have given a sense of whether or not the reconstruction was actually the complete failure they are making it out to be. I guess that once again we are not in a need to know position as far as the BBC is concerned. I wonder why such records are not available from the Saddam era? Could it be that the regime just did not care about who had services and who did not?

I suppose that when it comes to stories which a news organization is emotional about they just can not even try to be objective. It is a shame that some of those journalism schools could not try to instill a respect for truth in its students. For them balance is when you give truth and lies equal respect and the motto is "If you can't say something nasty about something it does not exist".

As for how the media which certainly "supports the troupes" I would like to link to the words of one of the armed forces about what he thinks about the media.

For some news about Iraq that you will not generally see on the news, try Portal Al Iraqi or Chrenkoff's Good News from Iraq - part 25 or you could read some of the Iraqi blogs (Saddam was never one for encouraging the internet in the areas of Baghdad which "enjoyed" 20 hours of electricity but strangely enough many Iraqis are having their say. This site has a good blogroll of Iraqi sites for English language speakers. But then maybe the BBC does a good enough job of tracking down the opinions of Iraqis. They could not do any worse than they do at reporting the facts.


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