Tuesday, December 19, 2006

"Conservatives need to realize that something is not dubious just because it’s reported by the New York Times"

Rich Lowry says :
The “good news” that conservatives have accused the media of not reporting has generally been pretty weak. The Iraqi elections were indeed major accomplishments. But the opening of schools and hospitals is not particularly newsworthy, at least not compared with American casualties and with sectarian attacks meant to bring Iraq down around everyone’s heads in a full-scale civil war.
A very fair point! Here's some really good news in Newsweek that I've been aware of for a long time, but not because of the MSM:
Civil war or not, Iraq has an economy, and—mother of all surprises—it's doing remarkably well. Real estate is booming. Construction, retail and wholesale trade sectors are healthy, too, according to a report by Global Insight in London. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports 34,000 registered companies in Iraq, up from 8,000 three years ago. Sales of secondhand cars, televisions and mobile phones have all risen sharply. Estimates vary, but one from Global Insight puts GDP growth at 17 percent last year and projects 13 percent for 2006. The World Bank has it lower: at 4 percent this year. But, given all the attention paid to deteriorating security, the startling fact is that Iraq is growing at all.
Newsweek also notes: "there's a vibrancy at the grass roots that is invisible in most international coverage of Iraq." Yes, well, you have to dig sometimes to get a bigger picture. Until he stopped doing his round up of good news, I used to read Arthur Chrenkoff.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Presently, The New York Times has all the credibility of the Weekly World News. I can hardly believe I actually subscribed to that paper back in my undergraduate days. Nowadays, you couldn't pay me to read it.

Mike in S.A.

10:11 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

That's funny. But you know I have the same visceral reaction as you, but I know the NYT's is still good for information if you can cut through their framing of it.

Also, isn't John Burns of the NYT's one of the most trusted reporters on Iraq on the right and the left?

9:43 AM  
Anonymous luther said...

That's some pretty big discrepancies around the GDP growth: 17%, 13% and 4%!!! Doesn't that also make one question the other figures as well or question how they are actually taking measurements? For example, are there actually 26 thousand new companies? Or were these already existing mom and pop businesses that are now formally registered? Do these figures include businesses that have failed? Or is it only a count of new registrations - IE does it really indicate a sky rocketing count in healthy businesses?

I'm in no position to know the answers to these questions - but these are the types of thoughts that always run through my mind when people start throwing out statistics like these. And both the GOP and Dems like to manipulate numbers to their advantage.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the NYT's is still good for information if you can cut through their framing of it.

True, and that could also be said about Texas Monthly - sometimes interesting but reliably elitist and tasteless. The latter of which is exemplified by the cover of their January 2007 issue.

Mike in S.A.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I noted that too, Luther, and yes, I wonder how they measure some of this stuff, but even with that in mind, I think it's fair to say the Iraq economy is growing.

That's a pretty tasteless cover, Mike. I agree.

9:12 AM  
Anonymous luther said...

I think its fair to say that there are specific measures being taken that indicate economic growth in certain areas. It is then a leap of faith, or desire, to then take that to mean that the country as a whole is now just booming economically beyond belief and in a self-sustained fashion.

I also found this part of the wording interesting:
"Even so, there's a vibrancy at the grass roots that is invisible in most international coverage of Iraq. Partly it's the trickle-down effect."

Typically tricle-down is a "dirty" word used by Dems to bad mouth Republicans - and replublicans deny that trickle-down is an actual economic strategy. So I thought this word choice was very odd?

Real-estate prices have risen several hundred percent, suggesting that Iraqis are more optimistic about the future than most Americans are.

I remember reading something similar about Kabol - that real estate and rental prices went up a thousand percent or something along those lines. What it meant in that situation was that slum lords had taken over and most people could not afford housing.

See how easy it is to spin information like this in multiple directions.

Now don't get me wrong - I do want things to go well in Iraq, and if the economy is starting to take off, even if only in pockets, that is awesome news. All I'm saying is that we have to be careful when reading the news regardless of its source.

12:05 PM  

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