How to Learn about Events in Iraq If You're a Regular LA Times Reader

Putting aside the obvious question ("Why are you an LA Times reader?") for the moment -- Apparently you'll get closer to the truth of what's happening in Iraq by reading a Times columnist than you will by reading reports from Times reporters actually assigned to deliver that information.

Here are the first few paragraphs of what columnist Max Boot had to say a few days ago:

An Iraq success story
Once-violent Ramadi, which now enjoys relative calm, shows that Iraqis can achieve peace -- with our help.
April 24, 2007

'A FEW WEEKS ago you couldn't drive down this street without being attacked. When I went down this street in February, I was hit three times with small-arms fire and IEDs." Col. John Charlton was describing Ramadi as we drove down its heavily damaged main street, dubbed Route Michigan by U.S. forces. Even though this was an unlucky day — Friday the 13th (of April) — we did not experience a single attack on our convoy of Humvees.

The previous week, a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives and chlorine gas into a police checkpoint, killing 12 people (not the 27 or more cited in most news accounts). But such violence, once the norm, has become the exception. Ramadi, which used to see 20 to 25 attacks a day, now sees an average of two to four a day. By the time I visited, no U.S. soldier had been killed in the town for weeks.

Hmm. Ramadi, Ramadi ..... wasn't a Times reporter "reporting from Ramadi" (i.e., using an unreliable Iraqi stringer with possible ties to terrorist "insurgents") not too long ago?

Why yes; it was Solomon Moore. He was telling us that our military carried out a deadly air strike that killed 30 Iraqi civilians -- reporting that had to be retracted later (without the paper having the integrity to call it a retraction) after a serviceman called the report false, and Patterico dug into what really happened.

So the news from Ramadi appears to have improved somewhat (also supported by a soldier's e-mail referred to here), and Max Boot managed to actually set foot in the area to see it for himself.

Meanwhile, it would appear that the Times writers who are supposed to be Times readers' main eyes and ears in Iraq are still laying low. Here is the text at the end of a recent report (bold is mine):

Jenny Jarvie in Atlanta, Tina Susman and Mohammed Rasheed in Baghdad and special correspondents in Ramadi, Baqubah and Baghdad contributed to this report.

From that description, it look like the Times is still using reports from people as unreliable as the person who fed them the "Ramadi air strike" fiction. Thus, it's still reasonable to question their accuracy (that would include the report in that same article from Ramadi of "nearly 30" killed; it wouldn't be unreasonable to predict that the actual count will drop by more than half, just as the one Boot describes in his column did.).

Cross-posted at

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.