Is the American news media screwing up the war effort? 

Don't Panic! . . . Your war questions answered

If you watch TV news or listen to talk radio, you're probably aware that the Bush administration and its allies have responded to the decline in public support for the war in Iraq by blaming the news media.

The blame attack is two-pronged, which, if you think about it, is a great number of prongs for attacking something. I just like saying the word "prong." Prong-prong-prong. Let me see that prong! Man, that is a great word.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the two-pronged attack on the media.

Prong No. 1 mainly comes from the mouths of Bush administration officials and goes something like this: "Hey, awesome American people (particularly those of you in middle-class suburban areas of electoral swing states)! There's plenty of great stuff going on in Iraq. Unfortunately, the news media only tell you about the bad stuff because the bad stuff is more sensational and easier to report."

Prong No. 2 is nastier -- and borderline libellous. Prong No. 2 usually doesn't come from the Bush administration directly but instead from its political and media allies. Prong No. 2 aims to tar as a traitor anyone in the media whose reporting makes the Bush administration's war policies look bad. If we are losing the war, according to Prong No. 2, it's the media's fault.

Bill O'Reilly typically uses that attack style. On the March 21 broadcast of "The O'Reilly Factor," he announced, "I believe that there is a segment of the media trying to undermine the policy in Iraq for their own ideological purposes." During the same broadcast, O'Reilly continued his attack during an exchange with right-wing radio hostess Laura Ingraham. My favorite bit was when O'Reilly "asked" Ingraham, "Do you think NBC news is actively trying to undermine the war in Iraq?" Great "question," Bill.

Now, as a member the news media, you might expect me to respond to these sorts of accusations with an indignant, smarty-pants comeback, such as, "If the White House planned the war in Iraq as well as it planned its assaults on the news media, the war might not be going so badly."

And to all the people who call in to TV and talk-radio shows to moan about how Americans are pessimistic about the war only because the liberal media never report about the schools the United States has built and/or repainted in Iraq, you might expect to me say something like, "When a reporter goes to Iraq and writes about schools instead of car bombings, that is like going to Columbine on the day of the shootings and reporting about SAT scores."

But I'm not gonna say anything like that.

No, sir/ma'am, I'm here to tell you that the accusations are in fact correct.

The news media are indeed screwing up this war, but it isn't the entire news media doing it. It's just me. I, Andisheh Nouraee, am solely responsible for the Iraq War going badly.

The fact is, I have had a hand in all the major screw-ups that people keep blaming on the Bush administration. For example, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wanted to follow Gen. Eric Shinseki's advice that it would require several hundred thousand U.S. troops to secure Iraq after an invasion. But one night in early 2003, I snuck into Rumsfeld's bedroom and whispered in his ear while he slept. I told him, "A hundred thousand soldiers is plenty to secure Iraq. Good night, sweet Rummy."

And remember when L. Paul "Jerry" Bremer III, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, disbanded the Iraqi army and the police, two decisions that simultaneously undermined public order and boosted the insurgency? Well, that was my fault, too. Bremer handed me a quarter and said, "Heads, disband 'em. Tails, keep 'em." I told him heads even though it was really tails.

Some other biggies: My decision to not provide adequate armor for U.S. soldiers. "Shrapnel wounds build character," were my exact words. Halliburton? All me, babe! Abu Ghraib -- me, too. (Don't knock naked pyramiding till you try it.) Greater Baghdad's on-again, off-again electricity? I've got the master switch on my desk.

You should come by and play with it sometime. It's fun.

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