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War in Iraq Low on Obama's Agenda; Compliant Media Move On, Too

"Despite persistent violence and a critical election coming up, President Obama hardly ever mentions the war in Iraq," Joseph Curl reports in Thursday's Washington Times, and the news media are largely aiding in this neglect. Curl discloses that "the last time a White House reporter asked about the Iraq war was June 26," while ABC, CBS and NBC aired just 80 minutes of coverage in all of 2009.

The near-media blackout means that the success of President Bush's "surge" policy in 2007 - a policy opposed by President Obama and Vice President Biden when both were presidential candidates and ridiculed by the networks as a "Lost Cause" - has gone virtually unreported in the past year. This week's Newsweek is an exception, with a big Iraq War cover story declaring "Victory at Last."

According to Newsweek's Babak Dehghanpisheh, John Barry and Christopher Dickey: "It has to be said and it should be understood - now, almost seven hellish years later - that something that looks mighty like democracy is emerging in Iraq. And while it may not be a beacon of inspiration to the region, it most certainly is a watershed event that could come to represent a whole new era in the history of the massively undemocratic Middle East."

Curl documents the lack of media interest in a war in which nearly 100,000 U.S. troops continue to serve:

The White House press corps hasn't asked Mr. Obama about the Iraq war in months. The president was last asked about the conflict on Dec. 7, during an Oval Office press availability with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But the question came from a Turkish reporter - after an Associated Press reporter asked about the economy.

In fact, the last time a White House reporter asked about the Iraq war was June 26, when National Public Radio's Don Gonyea asked an Iraq-related question during a joint news conference of Mr. Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to records kept by CBS Radio reporter Mark Knoller....

The three main broadcast networks - ABC, NBC and CBS - have moved on to other topics as well. In 2008, the Iraq war was the seventh most heavily covered story, with the three networks devoting 288 minutes to reports about the war, according to the Tyndall Report, which monitors the weekday nightly newscasts of the networks. In 2009, the Iraq war dropped off the top 10 list, with just 80 minutes of coverage.

The New York Times wrote 374 "substantial" stories on Iraq in 2008 (meaning the word "Iraq" appears at least 10 times in article), according to the Nexis database. In 2009, that dropped to 208. The same went for The Washington Post - 422 "substantial" stories on Iraq in 2008; 169 in 2009, after Mr. Obama had taken office.

You can find the full article at The Washington Times.

-Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center.