Busted!… Multi-National Force Iraq Scores on Mainstream Media
Special Update: For the “Think Progress” visitors below…
It’s refreshing to see the world’s finest military win a battle on the media front!
Of all of the 1,800 plus articles published yesterday on the Al Sadr Anti-US-occupation protest in Najaf, Iraq, not one mentioned that the turnout was way below what was expected and hoped for by the media and the pro-Iranian Muqtada al-Sadr.
From the pictures that were released by the MSM of the protest it was impossible to tell exactly how many showed up to stomp on and burn the US flag.
The Weekly Standard Blog was the first to report that turnout was far below what was expected:
The demonstration in Najaf has been muted. While Middle East Online claimed “hundreds of thousands of Shiites burned and trampled on US flags,” the reality is the protest was far smaller than Sadr would have liked. Reuters puts the protest size in the thousands, and during a press round table briefing today, Rear Admiral Mark Fox noted that the Coalition is closely monitoring the protest, and put the number of demonstrators between 5,000 and 7,000. The protest is monitored both on the ground and via air, which allows for a relatively accurate count of the number of protesters. Sadr’s weak showing during the April 9 protests highlights the setbacks he has suffered both politically and militarily since the inception of the Baghdad Security plan and his flight to Iran.
Today, the Coalition Forces provided more on the Najaf protest.
Update: An aerial shot of Baghdad, Iraq (not Najaf as reported earlier) yesterday shows another gathering of Iraqis but not the 3,000,000 that was hoped for.
The Multi-National Force Iraq added this report on the Al Sadr protest in Najaf, yesterday:
BAGHDAD — Citizens of Iraq assembled in Najaf Monday to conduct a demonstration against the U.S. presence in their country.
Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for the protest on the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, when Coalition forces toppled the Saddam Hussein regime.
The number of participants that took part in the event ranged from 5,000 to 7,000, based on aerial photographs, said U.S. Army Col. Steven Boylan, a military spokesman with Multi-National Force-Iraq.
During the era of Saddam Hussein the people could not voice their opinions or freely express how they felt about the government. This changed in Dec. 2005 when millions of Iraqis voted for a democratic future during their general election of a new government.
The gathering is part of the right to peaceful assembly and for the Iraqi people to voice their views, said Boylan. This is an example of the changes occurring in Iraq, he added.
The Worldwide Standard adds this on the protests:
Multinational Forces Iraq has a vested interest in monitoring the size of protests such as this. The Coalition and Iraqi government are not only concerned about following the activities of the Sadr’s Mahdi Army, particularly in the strategic city of Najaf and while a major operation is underway in Diwaniyah, but they must also provide security for an event such as this. By closely monitoring the size of the crowds, the Iraqi and U.S. military can adjust the security posture.
But Sadr achieved the desired political effect, regardless of the size of the protest. The media accounts have characterized the protest as a successful showing of Sadr’s power, despite the small showing by Sadr supporters, or his failure to appear in public.
Clearly, Al Sadr and the media missed the mark on this one.
Just like they did last time.
But, don’t expect an apology.
It’s just too bad… That the 3,000 who protested against sectarian violence on Saturday did not get the same amount of coverage.
UPDATE: To the Think Progress visitors:
The next time you link here with a military-bashing post do your homework first!
Anyone following the Al Sadr protest on Monday knows that the protest started in the neighboring town of Kufa and the march ended in Najaf for the rally.
If you knew better what you were actually reporting on you would have known that the “cropped” picture that you posted was taken during the “march” and the media did not show any aerial shots from the rally to verify their numbers.