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Media Pushes Too Far on Iraq Negativity

RadioBlogger has the transcript of Hugh Hewitt's interview with Victor Davis Hanson on Iraq and the media coverage of the war. Here is the full audio and transcript. But the exchange where VDH takes on Time Magazine's bureau chief in Baghdad is particularly interesting.

Hewitt: Professor Hanson, I'd like to play for you a little bit of Michael Ware, Baghdad bureau chief for Time Magazine. Two nights ago on CNN, I was debating him. I'd like to get your reaction to what this says about our culture.
H. Hewitt: Compared to what, Mr. Ware? Compared to Baghdad under Saddam? Are you arguing that Iraqis are worse off today than they were four years ago?

A. Cooper: Michael Ware, do you want to respond?

M. Ware: Yeah, well I think if you ask a lot of Iraqis, I think you'll be surprised by what the answer is. A lot of them say what? This is democracy? The joke is you call this liberation. And okay, let's look at the context as you suggest. Let's look at the even bigger picture. What is the bigger picture? Who's winning from this war? Who is benefiting right now? Well, the main winners so far are al Qaeda, which is stronger than it was before the invasion. Abu Musab al Zarqawi was a nobody. Now he's the superstar of international jihad. And Iran...Iran essentially has a proxy government in place, a very, very friendly government. Its sphere of influence has expanded, and any U.S. diplomat or senior military intelligence commander here will tell you that. So that's the big picture. Where's that being reported?

Hewitt: Now Victor Davis Hanson, how do you respond to that?

VDH: Is that man a journalist?

Hewitt: Well, he's the Time Magazine Baghdad bureau chief.

VDH: That's just a mockery of what we would call sober and judicious reporting. And everything he said was factually incorrect. We dismantled two thirds of the al Qaeda hierarchy, and Mr. Zarqawi was well enough to get an invitation to come before we went into Iraq to seek medical care under Saddam. Everything he said was untrue, and when we went into Iraq, nobody knew much about the Iranian nuclear program. The entire world is galvanizing against it now. The Iranians are petrified that this democratic experiment will work right on their border, and one of the most subversive things they can imagine right next to them. And the United States knows so much more about the danger of Iran than it did two years ago. The world was asleep to their nuclear antics. And 67% of the people have confidence in Iraq, according to the polls, that things are getting better. And it shows two things. One is that this idea of stability is always better than the chaos that comes with freedom. It's like saying that Hitler or Stalin...1936 Germany was much, much better than anything you can imagine in the 20's, when you had inflation. Or Stalin's...after the purges, there was a sense of order in Russia. All of that's true, as long as you accept that Saddam was killing 40-50,000 people a year. And the second is this utopianism that all wars are a choice between something's perfect, and something that is bad. When we went to war after 9/11, and we had one war with Saddam in '91, a second war with 12 years of no-fly zones, then we had...there were no good choices. There was a bad choice and a worse choice.

Hewitt: So with this in mind...again, I stress he's the Baghdad bureau chief of Time Magazine, at one time the most influential magazine in the West, I believe. What is the disease in the media? Where did it come from?

VDH: I think it came to be frank between the journalism schools, the academic training of a lot of the people, and this affluent, elite culture, to be frank, that comes out of the universities on the left and right coasts, that's divorced from the tragic view, because these people are not...they don't open hardware stores. They don't service cars. They've never worked physically with their hands. They have an idea in this international culture of the West that somehow, all of their affluence, all of their travel, all of their freedom came out of a head of Zeus, and it's not dependent on the U.S. military, the United States role in the world. They have no appreciation for the very system that birthed and maintained them. And they've had this sort of sick cynicism, nihilism, skepticism, and the height of their affluence and leisure, that they don't have any gratitude at all, which is really one of the most important human attributes. Humility to say you know, I'm very lucky to be a Westerner, and have certain freedoms. And that's why he cannot appreciate what we're trying to do in Iraq, because he has no appreciation of the very idea that he can jet out of Baghdad anytime he wants on a Western jet that's going to get him safely to a Western country, where he's going to be protected, that the people in Iraq want that same thing that he doesn't seem to appreciate. And that's...I know I'm sounding a little emotional, but that's been one of the most depressing aspects of this entire media...you did a great service to the country, Hugh, by having him on your show, and having him admit to something that we all suspect. But that hysteria and that anger and that prejudice was very valuable for people to see.

Earlier this week on NBC's Today Show Laura Ingraham hit back hard at her hosts (Video):

The Today Show spends all this money to send people to the Olympics, which is great, it was great programming. All this money for "Where In The World Is Matt Lauer?" Bring The Today Show to Iraq. Bring The Today Show to Tal Afar. Do the show from the 4th ID at Camp Victory and then when you talk to those soldiers on the ground, when you go out with the Iraqi military, when you talk to the villagers, when you see the children, then I want NBC to report on only the IEDs, only the killings, only the reprisals.....

To do a show from Iraq means to talk to the Iraqi military to go out with the Iraqi military, to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off.

The press has pushed too far with the one-sided negativity on Iraq and the backlash will work to the President's benefit.