EDITORIAL: Story not a tribute to heroes

Last Wednesday, The New York Times devoted nearly seven pages to a story which essentially speaks for itself: 2,000 Americans have died in the Iraq War.

No other newspaper featured such coverage. On the front page was a color photograph of a grieving widow being presented with the flag that draped her husband’s coffin. On pages A14 and A15, there were two more large, color photographs of grieving family members, accompanied by a long article and a computerized graphic charting the number of deaths per day in Iraq, which stretches across the bottom of both pages.

Then, on pages A16-A19, were the faces of the most recent 1,000 service members killed in the line of duty, with their name, age and hometown listed below each photo. The photos are small; small enough that the reader might find it difficult to concentrate on just one. The collection of images washes over the reader’s consciousness like a tidal wave, and it’s not hard to imagine that such an impression is exactly what The New York Times had in mind – to flood readers with feelings of remorse and regret, to create a force of emotion so overwhelming that remembrance of the cause for which these men and women gave their lives becomes nearly impossible.

Ostensibly, the Times was merely attempting to give a face to the names that are so often lost in the shuffle, but in fact it is simply manipulating a body count to further its own ideas about the war.

The headlines also indicate that the purpose of the coverage is an effort to present the war in an unfavorable light. Most have to do with the fact that many of the dead were on their second or third tour in Iraq, taking focus off of the enemies who line the roadside with bombs and placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of Washington policy makers. It’s almost as if to say George Bush is more responsible for their deaths than the insurgents who actually killed them.

Under the guise of objective journalism, the Times has distorted the significance of the number of dead. It has sought to create the impression that the soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that died on the sands of Iraq were not heroes, but victims, slaughtered in an unjust war, waged by uncaring leaders and supported only by those who have not felt the loss of a loved one.

In essence, the Times‘ coverage of the 2,000th death in Iraq is the quintessential example of liberal media bias. It has seized on an artificial benchmark in the course of the war to make a point about the war’s injustice – as if the 2,000th death is somehow more significant than the 1,999th or the 2,001st. Also, the coverage focuses on only one side of the story, emphasizing the grief of death over the pride of sacrifice that so many feel. It has wholly ignored the larger context of the story, totally disregarding the possibility that the deaths of these service members contributed to the accomplishment of substantial political objectives that were little more than a series of pipe dreams only five years ago. But most disgraceful of all, it has hijacked the images of the brave men and women who gave their lives in order to push its own political agenda.

The above editorial is the opinion of two members of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.