Monday, January 29, 2007
A case in point: the Washington Post today ran a front page story on the clash in Iraq between insurgents and the US-supported Iraqis.
The Post headline and subhead:Iraqis Raid Insurgents Near Shiite Holy City, U.S. Copter Crash Kills 2 During Fight.
Yet, the headline could have just as easily been written as such:
Iraqis Raid Insurgents Near Shiite Holy City, 250 Insurgents Killed in Fighting.
So why did the Post choose the subhead they did? Why focus the reader's attention of the number of US casualties? To me, while it is sad that 2 US soldiers lost their lives during this clash, it is far more critical to convey that the good guys killed upwards of 250 insurgents during this fight. The Post didn't do what they did because of space limitations: the subhead they went with had 36 spaces (not counting the periods after U and S), while '250 Insurgents Killed in Fighting' takes up a mere 33 spaces. It's not because two more American dead soldiers represents some type of milestone that cries out to be mentioned. And it's not because they mourn the lives of each and every American soldier who dies in Iraq; as I've written before, the writers at the Post care very little for our military.
No, and I know you didn't really think they did what they did for reasons having to do with typographical design constraints, they chose the subhead they did because they (their supposedly 'neutral' writers and editors) are beating the 'We're losing' theme every chance they can get... and telling people (especially those only scanning the headlines and not bothering to read further into the story) that yet more American lives were lost in Iraq is, in their mind, just another nail into the coffin of Bush's Iraq adventure. The last thing they'd want to do is give anyone the impression that everything isn't going to hell in a handbasket in Iraq... and by burying the number of the enemy killed by the goodguys, that is what they tried to do.