Iraq veterans often say they are confused by American news coverage, because their experience differs so greatly from what journalists report. Soldiers and Marines point to the slow, steady progress in almost all areas of Iraqi life and wonder why they don’t get much notice – or in many cases, any notice at all.
Part of the explanation is Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the Baghdad bureau chief for the Washington Post. He spent most of his career on the metro and technology beats, and has only four years of foreign reporting, two of which are in Iraq. The 31-year-old now runs a news operation that can literally change the world, heading a bureau that is the source for much of the news out of Iraq.
Chandrasekaran’s crew generates a relentlessly negative stream of articles from Iraq – and if there are no events to report, they resort to man-on-the-street interviews and cobble together a story from that. Last week, there was a front-page, above-the-fold article about Iraqis jeering U.S. troops, which amounted to a pastiche of quotations from hostile Iraqis. It was hardly unique. Given the expense of maintaining an Iraq bureau with a dozen staffers, they have to write something to justify themselves, even if the product is shoddy.
This just reinforces what I have thought for some time. I noticed that Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s reports from Iraq were always negative. They just can’t seem to find an Iraqi with a good opinion of the United States. I guess his assignment as Iraq bureau chief is in keeping with the Post’s general reporting. Chandrasekaran seems to compliment their domestic hit man, Dana Milbank nicely.
I wondered at his assignment as bureau chief at such an early age and so little experience. But I guess his reflections of the proper political attitudes made up for his light-weight background.