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Monday, September 03, 2007

When Is a Surge Not a Surge

David Cloud reports

"On a surprise visit to Iraq today for meetings with his commanders and top Iraqi officials, President Bush raised the possibility that some American troops could be withdrawn from Iraq if security there continues to improve."

Of course he has to cut troop levels as the army is breaking. Also the idea of a "surge" was a temporary increase. Now he is offering to not break his word if congress gives he what he wants. I doubt the trick will work

However, David Cloud does not reassure me. He wrote "continues to improve" in his own voice. He should have quoted Bush (painful but necessary when he is lying and you don't want to be too blunt about it) or write "if he decides that the improvements which he claims have occured, continue."

There is no need for reporters to repeat dubious claims in their own voice. Raw data suggest Bush is full of it as always.

update: The lede was burried but Cloud is pretty harsh in the rest of the article as in paragraphs 4 and 5.

Mr. Bush, who took no questions, did not say how large a troop withdrawal was possible. Nor did he say whether he envisioned forces being withdrawn sooner than next spring, when the first of the additional 30,000 troops Mr. Bush sent to Iraq earlier this year are due to come home anyway.

Administration officials were quick to point out that no troop drawdown may be possible before then if security deteriorates, as it has before.

This is a pattern in US journalism -- first the article starts with the claim by the public figure who arranged an event to get that claim out. Then there are a few paragraphs (only 2 means Cloud is being bold) then the facts which show the claim to be dishonest.

Thus people who actually read the article know the journalist knows what is going on and is willing to call them as he or she sees them. People who just read the first paragraph are misled. people who care about opinions of the relatively uninformed and can deny access or complain are pleased.

yesterday I dumped on Cloud after reading only the first paragraph of his story. I do not apologise. I think a discussion of lede grafs only is useful. My new feature is Iraq ledes daily (see above).

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