The Associated Press has found a unique way to ensure that negative statements and comments regarding Iraq get wide circulation.. Just have two writers do similar pieces with different titles and release them on the same day. The articles should contain the same negative comments and talking points. Throw in a few token positives, rearrange the flow of the articles and you have a hit. It’s a given that someone will read at least one of the articles and come away with an idea of bad things in Iraq. If the AP strikes the mother lode and a reader is exposed to both pieces, the repeated negatives work like a subliminal message.
Such is the case with 2 stories released by the AP on October 25, 2005. The subject was the failure to find any fraud in the Constitutional referendum in Iraq. The 10-day audit was completed and the citizens ratified Iraq’s Constitution. Thomas Wagner’s article, “Draft Constitution Adopted by Iraq Voters”, was posted at 0928 EDT. Mariam Fam’s article, “Iraq’s Constitution Ratified by Voters”, came later in the afternoon at 1600 EDT.
Here's 2 of the most glaring examples...
Wagner: “Many Sunni Arabs fear that the constitution will create two virtually autonomous and oil-rich mini-states of Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south, while leaving many Sunnis isolated in poor central and western regions with a weak central government in Baghdad.”
Fam: “Many Sunni Arabs fear the constitution will create virtually autonomous and oil-rich mini-states of Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south, leaving Sunnis isolated in poor central and western regions with a weak central government in Baghdad.”
Wagner: “But Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni Arab member of the committee that drafted the constitution, called the referendum ‘a farce’ and accused government forces of stealing ballot boxes to reduce the percentage of ‘no’ votes in several mostly Sunni Arab provinces.”
Fam: “Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni Arab member of the committee that drafted the constitution, called the referendum ‘a farce’ and accused the Shiite and Kurdish-dominated government of stealing ballot boxes to reduce the percentage of ‘no’ votes in several provinces.”
Some might argue that the similarities are just a fluke, a coincidence or just one of the hazards of having two journalists working on the same story on the same day. I disagree.
What are the chances that both writers would come up with “oil-rich mini-states”, “poor central and western regions” and “weak central government in Baghdad” in one sentence? Knowing the history of the AP’s coverage of the war in Iraq, I’d say the chances are slim and none.