August 23, 2003

Many Deaths Left Out of Iraq Story

Here is powerful and shameful evidence of the
Corporatist (remember, that's what Mussolini said
"fascism" would be more aptly named) "US mainstream
news media" collaboration with the illegitimate,
incompetent, corrupt regime in the White House. Yet
despite the fact that they really halve the death toll
for US troops and utterly ignore the death tol of
Iraqis (and Afghanis, BTW), Non-Plusse Radio (NPR),
Anything But See (ABC), Must Not Be Seen (MSNBC) still
must report some death toll and its impact is damning
on the _resident's hope for election (he can't be
"re-elected" since he lost in 2000)...FAIR is doing
very important work, I support them financially, and
if you do not already, I encourage you too and of
course at the very least write the protests they
suggest, it does count. Their Web site is listed in
"Vital Links" on the LNS home page..Remember, now more
than ever, 2+2=4

FAIR Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting 112 W. 27th
Street New York, NY 10001
Many Deaths Left Out of Iraq Story

August 20, 2003

With U.S. forces under consistent attack in Iraq,
months after George W. Bush declared "major combat"
over on May 1, media routinely refer to the number of
American soldiers killed. But many of those reports
dramatically undercount the actual number of U.S.
deaths since Bush's May 1 address.

A recent NPR report (8/7/03) was typical: "These two
deaths bring to 55 the number of U.S. forces killed in
combat since May 1st, when President Bush declared
major fighting had ended." A survey of transcripts
from some leading broadcast news outlets--ABC World
News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News and
National Public Radio-- found numerous reports that
used the same phrasing. These media are making a
distinction-- one rarely explained to audiences--
between combat and non-combat deaths, choosing in most
cases to only report the former.

NPR used this formulation earlier this month (8/3/03):
"The U.S. has suffered more than 50 combat fatalities
since major fighting ended in May." The following day
(8/4/03), it omitted the usual qualifier, rendering
the report inaccurate: "So far, 52 American soldiers
have died since major combat officially ended in Iraq"
(8/4/03). In reality, the total U.S. dead was about
twice that figure, as tallied by the website Iraq
Coalition Casualty Count

The broadcast TV networks tend to feature the lower
number in their reports as well. "The total killed
since President Bush declared the major combat over:
56 Americans," declared Campbell Brown (NBC Nightly
News, 8/8/03). In another reference to Bush's May 1
speech, ABC's John Cochran reported (World News
Tonight, 8/8/03): "Since the president gave that
assurance, 59 Americans have been killed, 399
wounded." CBS Evening News reported (8/8/03) that
since Bush's comments, "56 U.S. troops have been
killed, including one last night, a guard from the
82nd Airborne, shot while on patrol in Baghdad."

Some might suggest that using a casualty figure that
includes non-combat deaths would portray the war as
more deadly and dangerous than it really is. But
non-combat fatalities clearly include deaths that are
a result of the war; car accidents are often a result
of speeding to avoid ambushes, for example, and the
heavy battle gear troops are forced to wear
contributes to heat-related fatalities. As Editor &
Publisher's Greg Mitchell wrote (7/17/03), "Even if
killed in a non-hostile action, these soldiers are no
less dead, their families no less aggrieved. And it's
safe to say that nearly all of these people would
still be alive if they were still back in the States."

In a few unusual reports, news outlets have tallied up
all the U.S. military deaths in Iraq. On July 28, NPR
reported that "the number of Americans killed in
action since President Bush declared an end to major
combat on May 1 now stands at about 50. An equal
number of U.S. troops have died from other causes
during that time." In an August 9 report on CBS
Evening News, CBS anchor Thalia Assuras reported that
"since the proclaimed end of major combat, 119
soldiers have died in the line of duty." ABC World
News Tonight (7/21/03) reported that "95 U.S. troops
now have died in Iraq since President Bush declared
the end of major combat on May 1st, 38 of them in what
the military calls hostile acts."

Iraqi casualties, especially since Bush's May 1
declaration, are barely on the media radar. Most
references to life in Iraq since then offer few
details on the number of Iraqi dead or injured.
"Fifty-four American troops killed in the last 100
days. There's no exact count of the Iraqis killed, or
robbed, or raped," reported NBC's Richard Engle
(8/9/03). While an exact total is impossible to
verify, the website Iraq Body Count
( lists dozens of Iraqi
deaths since May 1, many of whom were killed by U.S.

Asked to describe Iraqi perceptions of the United
States, NPR reporter Anne Garrels said: "Rightly or
wrongly, Iraqis believe their lives count for little
in the eyes of the Americans, who dutifully tally the
Americans killed, but give no numbers on Iraqis who
were killed, whether they're guilty or innocent"
(8/3/03). While the Iraqis may be right about the
higher priority given to U.S. vs. Iraqi deaths, not
even all U.S. casualties are being fully
acknowledged-- and that shortcoming applies not just
to the Pentagon, but to media as well.


Contact media outlets and encourage them to report the
complete totals for U.S. soldiers who have died in
Iraq, and not just those labeled "hostile fire" or
"combat" deaths by the Pentagon. Encourage journalists
to attempt to count Iraqi losses as well.

ABC World News Tonight
Phone: 212-456-4040

CBS Evening News
Phone: 212-975-3691

NBC Nightly News
Phone: 212-664-4971

National Public Radio
Jeffrey Dvorkin, Ombudsman
Phone: 202-513-3245

As always, please remember that your comments are
taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone.
Please cc with your correspondence.


FAIR Home | Search | Contact Us | Activism | How to
Write a Letter
Join FAIR's e-mail list & receive news, action alerts

Posted by richard at August 23, 2003 06:38 PM