Media's War Coverage: Pushing Pessimism To The Sidelines Yet Again

As already pointed out, the big reveal from WikiLeaks this week was that it got the entire American press to admit that the war in Afghanistan is not going well, and that this is representative of the "conventional wisdom." And yet despite this, it's still not pessimistic enough to prevent lawmakers from throwing another $37 billion taxpayer dollars into the sinkhole. From the New York Times:

The House of Representatives agreed on Tuesday to provide $37 billion to continue financing America's two wars, but the vote showed deepening divisions and anxiety among Democrats over the course of the nearly nine-year-old conflict in Afghanistan.

The 308-to-114 vote, with strong Republican support, came after the leak of an archive of classified battlefield reports from Afghanistan that fueled new debate over the course of the war and whether President Obama's counterinsurgency strategy could work.

I don't understand! Do these lawmakers not have teevees? Because all week long, the people on the teevees were telling us that the war isn't going well.

Let's also recall that this week we learned that the last time we tossed billions of dollars at a war, we lost track of 95% of it. And, unless I've missed something, Congress has lately struggled to extend unemployment benefits to millions of Americans because everyone is terrified of adding to the deficit.

Nevertheless, mere days after the WikiLeaks disclosure forced the media to reveal that the pessimistic take on Afghanistan was the "conventional wisdom," that "conventional wisdom" is having a hard time breaking the surface of news coverage. Let's take the New York Times piece on the war funding bill, cited above:

--In the third paragraph, you read that President Obama "and top military officials said Tuesday that the disclosure of the documents should not force a rethinking of America's commitment to the war."

--In the fifth paragraph, anonymous administration officials suggest that the "passage of the spending bill... showed that [WikiLeaks] had not jeopardized Congressional support for the war."

--In the sixth paragraph, Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) shows up, saying "The president is taking a wise and balanced approach in Afghanistan, and it deserves our support."

--It's not until paragraph eight that we get this:

But some of those voting against it said they were influenced by the leaked documents, which highlight the American military's struggles in Afghanistan and support claims that elements of Pakistan's intelligence service were helping the Taliban.

"All of the puzzle has been put together and it is not a pretty picture," said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts. "Things are really ugly over there. I think the White House continues to underestimate the depth of antiwar sentiment here."

--Those sentiments surface, but are followed by several paragraphs of denunciations of WikiLeaks, from Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, CENTCOM command nominee General James Mattis, and President Barack Obama. They all basically cop the same pose: nothing new to see here! Only Admiral Mike Mullen attempts to mount the argument that "much had changed" -- presumably for the better -- since the period of time covered by the WikiLeaks document dump.

So there you have it. It took only a few days for the media to go from telling us that the pessimistic take on Afghanistan was the obvious, boring ho-hum "conventional wisdom" to restoring that point of view to the fringes, sandwiched between optimistic takes and war-cheerleading.

Which just goes to show that when the media wants to defend their own terrible coverage of the war, they'll tell us that we should have known all along that they have been bearish on Afghanistan. But when it comes to defending taxpayers from another $37 billion being shipped away in the service of a cause they believe to be lost, the media -- well, to be honest, the media doesn't give a damn about mounting that kind of defense!

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