July 23, 2003
The Wall Street Journal
How selective reporting feeds on its own negativity, which will in the long run be proven wrong.
In the doldrums of summer, a gun battle that erased the sons of Saddam has perked up the news. Uday and Qusay were the pillars of Saddam’s brutal regime, and perhaps the most feared of all its members. This intelligence and military success will surely infuse some balance into the saturnine reporting from Baghdad. The raid that led to their richly merited deaths demonstrated the unremitting pressure that is squeezing the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s regime. So will the naysayers at last concede that we are doing something — anything — right?
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The news brought celebrations in the streets of Baghdad, previously peopled, we’ve been told, only by surly Iraqis who hate our presence there. The market immediately reacted by dropping the price of oil. Yet it is hard for a reader to determine the trends in Iraq when most headlines focus solely on American casualties. Because shipwrecks make news, headlines about sinking ships are not a reliable measure of maritime safety. Late last March, the press rushed so quickly from one side of its own Good Ship Integrity to the other that it almost capsized. There were reports about U.S. forces bogged down in the desert and a flawed Pentagon strategy. While these stories were coming in, Baghdad fell. Phew, that was close.