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Media Outlets That Went Nuts Over O'Hanlon Ignoring Cordesman's Pessimism About Iraq

The Horse's Mouth | August 9, 2007
Greg Sargent

Here is a list of the big news orgs and network shows -- compiled from here, here, and here -- that lavished coverage on Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack over their now-infamous Op-ed saying that we just might win the war in Iraq:

CBS Evening News

CNN Newsroom

CNN Evening News

CNN Situation Room

MSNBC Tucker

NPR Talk of the Nation


CBS Early Show

CBS Evening News

Fox News Special Report

MSNBC Hardball

O'Hanlon and Pollack:

Fox News Sunday

As noted here yesterday, national security analyst Anthony Cordesman went to Iraq with O'Hanlon and Pollack, and reached a strikingly different conclusion. The Center for Strategic and International Studies, where Cordesman works, just told me that they sent out a release about this yesterday morning.

Over 24 hours later, here's a list of the media outlets that have covered it, according to a Google news and Nexis search:

Agence France Press


Yep -- one major network.

Really, it's worth stepping back and pondering just how unprofessional and dysfunctional the media's performance has been on this story to date. It starts with The Times's editors, who actually allowed these two to con the paper's readers into forgetting their unflagging support for the invasion and the surge, letting them get away with describing themselves only as war critics. That embarrassing flub then colored virtually all the coverage that followed. Because of it, the big news orgs persuaded themselves that there was something counterintuitive about their conclusion -- and proceeded to report, in one outlet after another, that these war "critics" had suddenly found reason to be hopeful.

Now we have a story that's genuinely counterintuitive -- that is, that a companion of the two went along and reached very different, and far more pessimistic, conclusions about the prospects for success in Iraq. Not only is this counterintuitive, but there's also conflict here, too -- Cordesman flags his disagreement with his esteemed colleagues in the first paragraph of his synopsis . This also puts Cordesman at odds with the White House, which relentlessly flacked O'Hanlon and Pollack's findings. And the media response to Cordesman thus far? Virtual silence.

I'm told that some reporters have inquired about the report, so things may change; I really hope they do. As of now, however, the silence that has greeted Cordesman's far more detailed report -- from the same news orgs that gave exceptionally generous, and outright misleading, coverage to O'Hanlon and Pollack's optimism about Iraq -- stands as a sad, though perhaps fittingly pathetic, postscript to this whole affair.

Update: Check out this comprehensive comparison of the assessment of Cordesman versus that of O'Hanlon and Pollack.

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