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By Gary D. Halbert
August 26, 2003


1.  Bush’s Approval Ratings Slump To Only 52%.

2.  Media Spins Iraq Situation As A Giant Failure.

3.  Yet Several Media Watchdogs Tell It Like It Is.

4.  Election Season Means Bias Will Only Get Worse.


President Bush’s approval ratings have slumped to 52% according to the latest Zogby poll this past weekend, down from the low 70s and upper 60s just a few months ago.  The Zogby poll also found that Bush’s negative approval rating has risen to 48%, the highest since before 9/11.  Yet the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 69% of Americans still think the war in Iraq was worth it.  So, what gives?

This week, we will look at how the mainstream media has successfully spun the news to create the impression that everything Bush has done has been a failure.  To illustrate, I will quote liberally from our friends at the Media Research Center who continually monitor the media for bias.   I continue to highly recommend this free service at

The fact is, the liberal media has done an excellent job of selling failure by the Bush administration on numerous fronts, but especially on Iraq.  Now the president’s approval ratings have fallen to the point that the 2004 election might just be a horserace.

Selling Failure On Iraq

Here is the Media Research Center’s latest assessment of media coverage in Iraq:

QUOTE:  “In a recent newspaper profile, CNN anchor Aaron Brown is captured trying to be witty as he cobbles together his ‘Newsnight’ show. He asks his co-workers, ‘So what the hell are we going to sell here?’   There’s an easy answer if you watch television: failure.

For most of the post-war period, the networks have sold us failure. The details change here and there, but the pitch remains the same. Failure to find weapons of mass destruction. Failure to work with do-nothings at the UN. Failure to restore water and electricity supplies even as saboteurs seek to undo every good deed. Failure to anticipate that snipers would be paid to shoot our soldiers in the neck while they buy a soda. Failure to create Iraqi democracy out of thin air within two weeks. Failure to keep sixteen dubious words out of the State of the Union address. Failure to nab Saddam or his odious sons.

But what happens when one of these failures turns upside down into a success, as in killing Uday and Qusay? Easy. More failures. Failure to capture the sons alive for their intelligence value. Failure to understand that Iraqis need to see the corpses. Failure to understand Muslims don't like to see corpses preserved. Eleanor Clift even suggested the failure to keep Saddam’s sons alive in order to cover up the failure to find weapons of mass destruction -- failure squared.

The ideology of failure makes journalism so easy and carefree. When yesterday’s media beef (we can’t kill the sons) totally contradicts today’s (we shouldn't have killed the sons), that’s okay. Coherence isn't required. Building a daily soundtrack of doom is the objective. Since the ‘major fighting’ ended, the media have tried to turn the world upside down. In the daily episode of self-fulfilling prophecy, reporters like CBS’s Joie Chen proclaim that as soldiers die ‘day by day’ in Iraq, ‘the concerns, and the doubts, of many of the folks back home grow.’

Joie Chen should try visiting the troops. E-mails home from soldiers in Baghdad paint an almost entirely different picture than what the networks are offering. One Green Beret’s e-mail (he asks for anonymity) about the unreality of the staged news from Iraq is hotly making the Internet rounds. In raw language, he laments being unable to touch ‘those taunting bags of gas that scream in [soldiers’] faces and riot on cue when they spot a camera man from ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, or NBC. If they did, then they know the next nightly news will be about how chaotic things are and how much the Iraqi people hate us. Some do. But the vast majority don’t.’

This soldier, who says he’s spent time ‘babysitting the pukes’ from TV networks, also maintains that the more Iraqis see that our soldiers don’t start any violence, and try to be friendly and compassionate to children and the elderly, the more their hostility dissolves. ‘I saw a bunch of 19-year-olds from the 82nd Airborne not return fire coming from a mosque until they got a group of elderly civilians out of harm's way. So did the Iraqis.’

When some enemy combatants rounded up women and children as human shields, the soldiers negotiated their release. When a young girl was discovered thrown down the stairs after the standoff, ‘the G.I.s called in a MedVac helicopter to take her and her mother to the nearest field hospital. The Iraqis watched it all, and there hasn't been a problem in that neighborhood since. How many such stories, and there are hundreds of them, ever get reported in the fair and balanced press? You know, nada.’

The soldier's missive is long, bitter, and instructive. He is stunned that the American press is so hostile to the U.S. mission. He oughtn’t be.   This is the American media at its most typical.

Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard has just returned from Baghdad, where he found, ‘Most Iraqis are overjoyed about their liberation. The American troops I spoke with, even those from units that have suffered postwar casualties, said they have received a warm welcome from their hosts. But most surprising were the strong words of praise for postwar Iraq from [non-government organization] leaders. If even some of what this delegation heard is true, the reconstruction of Iraq is going much better than reports in the American media suggest.’

Another journalist on the trip, the Wall Street Journal’s Paul Gigot, reported that Iraqis are ‘petrified’ that President Bush will lose office and U.S. troops will leave too soon.’

These accounts do not match the daily drip-drip-drip of our Bush-bashing press, always focusing on failures -- real, alleged, or invented. There is one failure they ignore: their own failure to recognize the public’s -- and the military’s -- growing disdain for the nattering nabobs of negativism.” END QUOTE.

Same Song, Second Verse

I know what some of you are thinking: Gary’s taking one article from one source and treating it like it’s the Gospel.  Actually, there are numerous sources for evidence of liberal media bias in addition to the Media Research Center.  One of these is Accuracy In Media, a media watchdog group located on the Internet at

In an August 20th article, AIM correspondent Cliff Kincaid wrote about the liberal media’s activities in Iraq.  I will quote part of that article below, but let me warn you that it is likely to make you very angry, unless of course you are one of those liberal apologists for all things anti-American:

QUOTE:  “The Washington Post reports that L. Paul Bremer, the civil administrator in Iraq, has issued guidelines for Iraqi media, forbidding them from inciting violence, promoting hatred or circulating false information ‘calculated to promote opposition’ to the new governing authority. But the Bush administration seems to be doing nothing about American reporters in Iraq serving as propaganda mouthpieces for foreign terrorists killing U.S. military personnel. The stories produced by these reporters undermine the war effort.

The latest example is an August 18 Newsweek story, ‘Inside An Enemy Cell,’ which refers to the terrorists killing American troops as ‘resistance fighters.’ Newsweek interviewed members of the ‘Army of Mohammed,’ who insisted that they don’t favor Saddam’s return and enjoy support from the Iraqi people. Newsweek reported that the group says that, ‘The Americans have occupied our land under a false pretext, and without any international authorization.’ That sounds like the typical liberal Democratic Party complaint about failing to get U.N. approval before going to war and then allegedly misleading the people about the reasons for the war. The ‘Army of Mohammed’ is using well-tested propaganda themes to win sympathizers in the West.

The Newsweek story, written by Scott Johnson, followed a July 21 CBS Evening News story by David Hawkins, who also provided a flattering portrait of the killers of Americans. In an interview arranged by a gun-runner, Hawkins offered the views of ‘three men who claim to have participated in several recent and deadly attacks on U.S. soldiers’ and who ‘say they’re not doing it for love of Saddam—but instead for God and their country.’ One of the terrorists, referring to American troops, told Hawkins, ‘We advise them that they have to leave Iraq before they die here.’

This report was then followed by an interview by CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston of several Iraqis awaiting orders to become ‘martyrs’ against U.S. forces. ‘Hassan,’ a volunteer ‘martyr’ speaking on camera to CBS News through a translator, said, ‘I will fasten a bomb to my body and explode myself in front of an American tank.’

What a change from the days when American reporters were embedded with U.S. troops as they fought Iraqi troops. At this rate, it may not be long before American reporters are embedded with the Iraqi terrorists as they actually kill Americans. These stories serve no purpose other than to demoralize our troops, their families and supporters of the war back in the U.S…

…There is a real possibility that efforts such as those of ‘Bring Them Home Now,’ egged on by the major media, could produce a U.S. defeat. The foreign terrorists flooding into Iraq to kill Americans are certainly counting on breaking the will of the American people to resist and persevere.

Liberals on Capitol Hill ridiculed Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz for stating the obvious - that ‘Iraq is now the central battle in the war on terrorism.’ The bombing of the United Nations’ headquarters in Baghdad has further demonstrated the truth of his statement. But it will be difficult to win this war when the terrorists are getting better press in the U.S. media than our own troops.”  END QUOTE

You can read the entire AIM article by Cliff Kincaid by clicking on the link that follows this article.

No Fair And Balanced

If you still think that I am quoting too extensively from “conservative” media watchdog groups, you might want to visit the Spinsanity website at .  This is one of the most objective sources of media bias I have seen, and it pulls no punches either way.  If you are a big Bush fan, you won’t like some of the articles you will see there, but for those wanting to see through both the conservative and liberal spin, this is an excellent website.

The truth is, the Bush administration has made some mistakes in Iraq.  It is clear they did not accurately assess what a post-war Iraq would look like.   Yet who would have thought that Saddam Hussein and his military would disappear, leaving the Baathist supporters heavily armed and dangerous?

The killing of American (and other) troops is deplorable, even if the numbers have been relatively small.  Yet to listen to the media, you would think they prefer that we never went to Iraq in the first place, and that they would rather Saddam still be in power.  Fortunately, a large majority of Americans (69% as noted above) does not agree.

And yes, you can count me among those who think the war in Iraq was worth it, as well as among those who believe that weapons of mass destruction will eventually be found underground or hidden in the rugged terrain of Iraq.  Of course, when they are found, look for the liberal media to whine about it taking so long to find them, or that they were just “planted” evidence, or that they were moved into Iraq after the end of the war by the “resistance fighters” noted in the AIM article above.

The latest media flap is over whether or not we should have more troops in Iraq now, and the Democrats wasted no time jumping on this bandwagon.  The media and the Dems are now criticizing Bush for not sending more troops into Iraq to stop the violence.  The media hopes the public has forgotten how they criticized Bush for sending too many troops into Iraq in the first place.  Cries of imperialism were widespread.  Some believe this was precisely the reason that Bush and Rumsfeld were quick to pull troops out of Iraq soon after Baghdad was occupied.  Now, the media and the Democrats are calling on Bush to send more troops in immediately.  I guess if you are the media, you can have it both ways.

For the record, I happen to be one who agrees that we need more troops in Iraq.  I also believe we need to increase the size of the military in general.  But that’s another discussion for another day.


Liberal bias in the media is nothing new.  I have written about it periodically for the last 20 years.  Over that time, however, I don’t recall the media being this strident in their opposition to a president.  As I have written in this E-Letter before, I believe there are many in today’s media who actually hate George W. Bush.  And they will stop at nothing in their campaign to run him out of office.

Also, we have to content ourselves with the fact that we are in an election cycle.  The Democratic contenders, aided by the media, will continue to criticize Bush, even though he led with authority and brought down one of the most despotic regimes in history.  Yet the media would have us believe it was a colossal failure.  It wasn’t.

Whenever I hear this constant negative criticism, I am reminded of a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, another American president who often found himself in the crosshairs of his critics and the media:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Amen, Teddy…  Just my thoughts…  That’s all for this week.

Best Wishes,

Gary D. Halbert


Cliff Kincaid’s AIM Article

How Bush Critics Sell Failure
(See articles of 8/16 & 8/18.)



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Forecasts & Trends E-Letter is published by Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. Gary D. Halbert is the president and CEO of Halbert Wealth Management, Inc. and is the editor of this publication. Information contained herein is taken from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed as to its accuracy. Opinions and recommendations herein generally reflect the judgement of Gary D. Halbert (or another named author) and may change at any time without written notice. Market opinions contained herein are intended as general observations and are not intended as specific investment advice. Readers are urged to check with their investment counselors before making any investment decisions. This electronic newsletter does not constitute an offer of sale of any securities. Gary D. Halbert, Halbert Wealth Management, Inc., and its affiliated companies, its officers, directors and/or employees may or may not have investments in markets or programs mentioned herein. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Reprinting for family or friends is allowed with proper credit. However, republishing (written or electronically) in its entirety or through the use of extensive quotes is prohibited without prior written consent.

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