If a waiter told you the banana portion of the dessert accounted for just 200 calories and he/she just can’t get a reliable figure on the rest, would that be a fair report of what the banana split entails?
Unfortunately, U.S. media often gives consumers the banana equivalent when reporting war casualties in Iraq. I think our troops certainly deserve credit and our deep respect for their sacrifice but what about everyone else involved? They, like many who tread Afghani and Sudanese soil, are often quietly “spun” to the fringes of the media equation. When members of the press report war casualties in terms of American soldiers who have died instead of reporting on overall human costs, there is an inherent imbalance and a subtle bias. Here is what gets my goat about reporting the war through that prism:
1. It assumes that Americans are only, or at least mostly, concerned with the well being of American soldiers and not the remainder of people who have died.
2. Such reporting conveniently omits the number of maimed, wounded or otherwise incapacitated as a result of the invasion.
3. It omits the contractors, aid workers and volunteers from around the world who have sacrificed their lives to try and improve life in a war zone.
4. By ignoring the total number of maimed or wounded and instead focusing on headlines such as CNN on Oct 30th, 2007 “Iraq war deaths show sharp decline” the war becomes less difficult to digest and a real picture is not always transmitted to the people..
Some outlets will give an incredible running total, or report on an occasional study and if you are lucky enough to watch the many hearings related to Iraq on C-SPAN, you will see getting a solid figure and a straight answer is a battle. The U.N. estimated the total human cost to be roughly 100 people a day in November of 2006, and the U.S. government recently released this chart which stands in contrast to those figures. Notice our leaders can’t even agree (below chart) — Jason Damata