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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I am checking the lede paragraph of stories on Iraq on the web pages of the Washington Post, New York Times, L.A. Times, CNN, and La Repubblica (largest circulation Italian paper)

Update: And Talking Points Memo which ran the ap story without comment. The ap lede

In Surprise Visit to Iraq, Bush Envisions Possible Troop Cutbacks but Gives No Timetable

AP News

Sep 03, 2007 17:58 EDT

President Bush raised the possibility Monday of U.S. troop cuts in Iraq if security continues to improve, traveling here secretly to assess the war before a showdown with Congress.

Riechmann and Burns imply that security has improved in Iraq. The possible troop draw down is ascribed to Bush, the alleged recent improvement in security is not. the lie is presented as a fact. The whole article is dismal. There is no mention of the facts that alleged security improvement are based on data showing a normal seasonal decline in killing when the temperature reaches hotter than hell, nor any discussion of how raw numbers differ from the DOD's highly processed calculations nor well any reporting from Iraq.

And this is the story posted on TPM ! I am shocked. I can get the ap wire all sorts of places. Talking Points Memo should not waste its hard won credibility posting raw ap stories and, implicitly, endorsing the ap's inferior journalism.

Update 2: Also graphed by Tom at Blairwatch. I think the curve connecting the dots is not raw enough. Also the Blog should have been called "The Blair Watch Project".

Washington Post front web page

Bush: More Gains in Iraq Could Lead to Drawdown

Ahead of congressional testimony from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker on war's status, Bush argues surge tactic deserves more time.

OK I guess. The Bush: seems to be the Post's way of making an indirect quote neither claiming those words left Bush's mouth in that order nor stating them in the Washington Post's voice.

I click the link and read the Lede

In Iraq, Bush Cites Gains
President Suggests Continuation Could Allow Drawdown

By Michael A. Fletcher and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; Page A01

AL-ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq, Sept. 3 -- President Bush, making an unannounced visit to this isolated and well-fortified air base in Anbar province, said Monday that continued gains in security in Iraq could allow for a reduction in U.S. troops and called on the Iraqi government to follow up with progress toward rebuilding and political reconciliation.

The headline is biased for Bush. I think "Cites" should be "Claims". As written the headline states that there are gains, which is true but based on cherry picking.

The lede provides no balance to Bush except by noting that it seems to have been decided that is not safe for him to go to a normal government office.

New York Times front web page

Bush, in Iraq, Says Troop Reduction Is Possible

President Bush pre-empted pressure for a withdrawal by hailing what he called successes and contending that only a stable Iraq would allow a U.S. pullback.

OK the "what he called" is good and needed. Click the link

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq, Sept. 3 — President Bush made a surprise eight-hour visit to Iraq on Monday, emphasizing security gains, sectarian reconciliation and the possibility of a troop withdrawal, thus embracing and pre-empting this month’s crucial Congressional hearings on his Iraq strategy.

yech. No "alleged" or "what he called". In the lede of the actual story, Cloud and Myers paraphrase Bush's false claims in their own voices without flagging the alleged fact that he is lying like a dog.

Also in The Times

Envoy’s Letters Counter Bush on Plan for Iraq

A previously undisclosed exchange of letters shows that President Bush was told in advance of a plan to dismantle the Iraqi Army.

Click the link

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 — A previously undisclosed exchange of letters shows that President Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to “dissolve Saddam’s military and intelligence structures,” a plan that the envoy, L. Paul Bremer, said referred to dismantling the Iraqi Army.

That's clear. This is an actual news story (not that the content should surprise anyone) not a report on an event staged for the media. Bremer is trying to protect his reputation. Unfortunately for him, his letter shows not only that Bush was informed (of course) but also that Bremer devoted much more effort to flattery than to communication (no surprise there either) "The reference from Mr. Bremer’s note to Mr. Bush is limited to one sentence at the end of a lengthy paragraph in a three-page letter. The letter devoted much more space to recounting what Mr. Bremer described as “an almost universal expression of thanks” from the Iraqi people “to the U.S. and to you in particular for freeing Iraq from Saddam’s tyranny.”" So Bremer courtier of a vain and stupid King. Nor surprise their either but yech. I can't stand to read the actual letters.

LA Times front web page

U.S. military buildup fails to reconcile Baghdad
By Tina Susman
Despite the plan, communities rupture along sectarian lines, violence shifts and the capital is mired in infighting.

click and first paragraph

By Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
8:20 PM PDT, September 3, 2007

BAGHDAD -- The U.S. military buildup that was supposed to calm Baghdad and other trouble spots has failed to usher in national reconciliation, as the capital's neighborhoods rupture even further along sectarian lines, violence shifts elsewhere and Iraq's government remains mired in political infighting.

Devastating. Corresponds to the article (which I have read and comment on below).

CNN front web page. No Iraq story. I think that's about right.

CBS news

La Repubblica front page

Bush, visita a sorpresa in Iraq
"Possiamo ridurre le nostre truppe"
Il presidente nella base aerea di al-Asad (foto) ad ovest di Bagdad. Con lui anche il segretario alla Difesa Gates e la Rice. E per la prima volta apre ad un ritiro parziale: "Con nuovi successi, meno soldati per la sicurezza"

Bush Surprise visit to Iraq
"We can reduce our troops"
The President in the al-Asad air base (photo) west of Baghdad. Secretary of defence Gates and Rice are with him. For the first time he is willing to consider a partial Withdrawal: "With new success, fewer soldiers for security"

OK look my fellow statunitensi, it could be worse, much worse. Back when I was learning Italian (I have given up on learning correct Italian) I read the abstracts in La Repubblica. Then I began trying to read the articles. The editor who wrote the abstract managed to introduce two false claims. First Bush did not definitely call for a reduction in troops, but said it might be possible. Second he has always talked about partial withdrawal (as they stand up we stand down). Wow makes the US press look good.

Note that quotation marks are used for indirect quotes in Italy. That is quotes aren't really quotes. maybe Italians can tell which quotes are supposed to be accurate and which aren't. It drives me nuts.

I click the link and find the actual reporter makes only one gross error

More from an editor (probably the same one)

Il graduale disimpegno grazie ai "successi" nella sicurezza. Ma in agosto la guerra civile ha ucciso 1773 civili
La visita è stata un vero e proprio "consiglio di guerra". Incontro con i capi sunniti. Gli inglesi lasciano Bassora

The gradual withdrawal due to the "successes" in security. But in August the civil war killed 1773 civilians. The visit was a genuine "war counsel". Bush met Sunni leaders. The English quit Basra.

Like the scare quotes and the statistic 1773 is key, but if the question is whether there has been progress one does need more than one data point no ?

Finally the report's lede

BAGDAD - "Se i successi proseguono potremo ridurre le truppe in Iraq". Nel giorno in cui i militari di Sua Maestà lasciano, dopo quattro anni, il quartier generale di Bassora agli iracheni, Goerge W. Bush fa una visita a sorpresa in Iraq. E per la prima volta apre alla possibilità di un graduale ritiro dall'infuocato scenario iracheno.

"If the success continues, we can reduce troop numbers in Iraq." In the day in which her majesties soldiers leave Basra after 4 years, Goerge W. Bush makes a surprise visit in Iraq, and, for the first time, shows he is open to the possibility of a gradual withdrawal from the conflict in Iraq.

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