Why is this news?

This is a terrible tragedy:

U.S. forces killed two Iraqi women — one of them about to give birth — when the troops shot at a car that failed to stop at an observation post in a city north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials and relatives said Wednesday. Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, was being raced to the maternity hospital in Samarra by her brother when the shooting occurred Tuesday.

My question, though, is why is this news? Is it appropriate to have war reporting governed by the same "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality that makes the average local newscast virtually unwatchable? My instinct is "no," but my fatigue level and the work load I've got to get through before I hit the sack tonight make it impossible for me to articulate why. Any takers on this question? As always, I'm open to hearing any viewpoints, so long as they are politely expressed. My preference, of course, is for argument, not invective.

UPDATE:  For the stories just from today about Iraq that don't involve blood and malfeasance, you can go here and here.  My thanks to those of you who left comments.  I think you're absolutely right.  I was just too tired last night to follow through on my initial thought.

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  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    It IS a terrible tragedy…..and tragedy is part of everyday life. It would also be a tragedy if troops failed to fire on a car that didn’t stop and it blew up and killed a bunch of our guys.

    The problem with highlighting this particular type of tragedy is that it will be used for propoganda purposes by our enemies. If the American media were regularly highlighting the humanitarian activities of our troops, and trumpeting the spreading of freedom and the doing of good deeds by American soldiers, then an occasional report of a tragedy would seem reasonable.

    They’re not doing that. The constant reporting of the body count, calling our soldiers murderers and terrorists, and then spreading news of this tragedy to the world — basically unbalanced by any consistent and significant reporting of our successes — leads to the conclusion that they want us to lose to the terrorists.

  • http://thoughtyoudneverask.blogspot.com/ Zabrina

    I agree with the previous comment. It seems that every day I hear the daily mainstream radio, tv, or NPR “news report” on Iraq (usually bad news connected to Americans), and I say, “And is that ALL that happened in Iraq today? Or is that all your reporters moved out of their hotels to cover?”

    It’s pretty obvious that what we’re getting is a negative drumbeat with purposeful blinders. Also pretty obvious (if the polls can be believed) that it is working in shaping the public’s view of what’s going on in Iraq.

    It’s hard not to think it’s being done purposely, after so much discussion of this very bias by now (Bernard Goldberg’s Bias came out in 2003). I mean, how many radio, tv, and newspaper conference rooms have been turned over to serious discussion and self-scrutiny regarding their own organization’s reporting bias? How many university journalism seminars have taken this on as a serious charge? Does anyone at the top of these operations really consider the big picture and how they are missing it every day, doing what they define as “journalism”?

    The media is not just derelict in reporting only the bad (episodic, anecdotal) news from Iraq, but also in maintaining its myopic American focus (perpetuating ignorance of the rest of the world)–probably rationalized by the thought that they are selling what the U.S. public wants–while ignoring dropping ratings and circulation numbers.

    On the other hand, there seems to be more alternative viewpoints being expressed (via talk radio, the internet, books published, and C-SPAN coverage) than ever before, which is cause for being optimistic.

  • erp

    This is a tragedy that doesn’t imply a widespread conspiracy to kill pregnant Iraqis as the article in our morning paper wants to imply.

    The soldiers at the check point aren’t mind readers and the driver of the car should have known the danger and slowed down. Having a baby born in a car isn’t that unusual or dangerous. Flouting security is.

    The disgrace is the media trying to make this into another in a long list of issues designed to embarrass/impeach the president.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    I was in Venezuela as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early ’70s, and one of the stories we were absolutely hit on the head with was about a Volunteer a few years earlier who drove through a checkpoint. The car arrived and no one was visible….the driver slowed down to a crawl and slowly eased up to the guard shack….when no one appeared, they moved on through. Only then did the Guardia Nacional guy come out and spray the receding car with automatic rifle fire!

    I don’t remember whether the Volunteer was killed or only severely wounded, but the message to us newbies was clear: STOP at checkpoints or the consequences could be dire. The Venezuelans were fighting an insurgency at the time, and we were expected to adapt…..or else. Not pretty, but certainly understandable, even if the Great Satan is on the other side of the equation.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    It demoralizes both American civilians and soldiers. That is why it is inappropriate to help the enemy and hurt your friends in a war to the death.

    When the media accrues to itself the powers of spying, intelligence, and unwarranted search because it is in the public interest, without Constitutional limits, then that is a problem the tabloids and public people without private lives already know. In peacetime, this is an annoyance, and does not affect the great majority of people because the great majority of people are not in the public awareness, and therefore is not put under a microscope. In war time, this kind of obsessive compulsive disorder on the media’s part kills people and helps others kill people. A man too tired to pay attention to what he is doing, can get into a driving accident or get into an industrial accident. Common sense tells us that those who ply people with substances that degrades their ability to function properly, bears criminal guilt and negligence if they get into an accident. The often said excuse of the drug dealers, “I didn’t make them take it, he got himself killed, I didn’t do nothing” is a common justification. But it is not valid.

    We all know what a white lie is and what a lie of omission is. Deception does not require people to tell lies. Someone saying a phrase with two meanings, and letting the other person assume the incorrect meaning is using deception. This is what the media excels in, because it is too easy now to check the facts. So they report the facts, and if people assume the negative meaning, then the media just acts like they didn’t do anything wrong, they didn’t tell any lies, they weren’t the ones making people believe in wrong things. Very self-deceptive.

    A man driving his pregnant wife to the hospital, is not justified in ramming all other vehicles off the road or exceeding the speed limit on highways by 100 miles per hour. Common sense would have told the man not to run through checkpoints, but he was panicked. And in war, panic means you die, period. There is no second chance.

    The Iraqis have a big problem. Their problem is simply that they are used to death, destruction, and oppression. One of the ways they dealt with this was by mental suppression, they suppressed the knowledge of the “bad things”. Suppressing the knowledge of what would happen at a checkpoint if you refused to stop was a learned instinct during Saddam’s days. If you thought about it, you would freeze, if you thought about what happened to your brother, sons, and family you would freeze, you would perhaps ask a the secret police the wrong question about your family and then you yourself would die. Thus as a survival trait, the Iraqis just suppressed thinking about the future and what they should do. What they should do is what Saddam told them to do. This democracy, this people voting their conscience, is foreign to the current generation in Iraq. And there will be casualties and fatalities. This is what happens when the war is short, it causes a longer occupation.

    The rage, the mental problems, the lack of self-confidence, all could have been cured by war and fighting and the band of brothers bond that could have developed between US forces fighting a guerrila war with local Shia and Kurdish militias. That didn’t happen, because Rumsfield increased his 50,000 troops to 150,000, a compromise with the Shinseki generals that wanted 250,000 to 500,000 troops.

    The military has for the most part, solved post traumatic stress disorder. They knwo what causes it, and they have created measures to combat it. However, civilian post traumatic stress disorder is not due to war, it is due to terror and helplessness. This, the military did not know about and did not know how to cure it. Thus, we have the situation in Iraq right now. People running checkpoints, people complaining about free reconstruction, Arabs complaining about tanks and occupation when during Saddam, to complain was to die.