Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Three Frames. Or: The AP is Guilty of Data Mining 
Same Senate testimony, same day, three frames.

When Fox News, Reuters, and the Associated Press go to cover a 4-star general's testimony before the senate, what do you think happens?

Well, they choose to report two RADICALLY different stories.

Here's Fox:

Headline: Gen. Abizaid: Noose is Tightening on Terrorists

WASHINGTON — Al Qaeda is feeling the pinch from intelligence units working to flush out terrorist leaders including Usama bin Laden (search), Gen. John Abizaid, the head of U.S. Central Command, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

Abizaid also said that the coalition was "destroying Zarqawi's network from within" and that "his days in Iraq are numbered."

Here's Reuters:

Headline: "U.S. Commander Says Size of Iraq Insurgency Falling"

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Iraqi insurgents is falling and the days of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the al Qaeda-related militants, are numbered, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East said on Tuesday.

Now, here's the Associated Press:

Headline: Official: Pentagon Must Stop Iraqi Blasts

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon is not trying hard enough to defeat the makeshift roadside bombs that are the leading killer of U.S. troops in Iraq, the commander of American forces in the Middle East said Tuesday.

The AP makes no mention whatsoever of Abizaid's positive comments.

But even worse than that, AP's lede is not even supported by Abizaid's testimony:

Army Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee he was satisfied that the right people, with sufficient funds, were working on the problem.

Was AP even in the same room? Christ on a crotch-rocket, beyond assigning the right people with the right resources to the problem, what more is the Pentagon, as an institution, is supposed to do?

So the article takes the most useless angle on the testimony possible (tantalizing morsels of "treason" within Zarqawi's own organization are far, far more newsworthy), but falsifies its own lead paragraph.

But wait, the article's even stupider. Check out this "analysis" by the reporter:

Pentagon statistics show that over the past two months, the homemade, easy-to-hide weapons have accounted for a significantly higher share of U.S. battle deaths. In the final 10 days of February, for example, roadside bombs caused at least 15 of the 22 battle deaths.

In the first two months of this year, roadside bombs accounted for 56 percent of all battle deaths. In the final four months of 2004 they accounted for 19 percent, according to Pentagon figures.

Well, no shit, sherlock! That's because the final four months of 2004 saw some of the hardest close-quarters combat fighting of the war, most significantly in Fallujah. These were door-to-door, direct fire engagements. And the monthly casualty figures from that period bear that out.

In this droolingly ignorant analysis, somehow the AP misses the fact that U.S. casualty rates are down by over 50% below the previous month's, and at their lowest rate since last July.

So it's not that IED's are becoming more effective. IED casualties appear to have remained relatively constant. Direct fire casualties, however, have been significantly reduced.

Which is exactly what you would expect to see if, you know, we were winning.

Geez...that's a pretty basic bit of number crunching. And the reporter obviously had access to the raw casualty figures, or he wouldn't have been able to pull of the bogus calculation that he did. So the AP can't claim ignorance. Rather, the AP is guilty of the most egregious kind of data mining I've seen in a long time.

They deliberately excluded the meat of Abizaid's remarks, and they deliberately excluded information that would put the IED situation in perspective.


Splash, out


Inevitably this always catches up with you and usually at the worst possible time Moving . Moving
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Hey, excellent website. A great Iraq resource is Deaths in Iraq. It breaks all of the casualties down by age, race, branch of the military, country, etc.
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