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On Iraq, Reporters May Be Missing Their Mark(et)

Brian Martin, 1, checks out vegetables at the Copeland's Greenhouse and Farm Market in Greenwood, Ind. Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain tours the Shorja market in Baghdad, which a congressman likened to
Brian Martin, 1, checks out vegetables at the Copeland's Greenhouse and Farm Market in Greenwood, Ind. Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain tours the Shorja market in Baghdad, which a congressman likened to "a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime." Well, without flak jackets. (By Danese Kenon -- Indianapolis Star)

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By Al Kamen
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The liberal media have been jumping all over Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for accusing the press of not reporting all the good news in Iraq. There has been some improvement, McCain told reporters after strolling through the Shorja market in Baghdad. "But the American people are not getting the full picture of what's happening here.

"They are not getting the full picture of the drop in murders, the establishment of security outposts throughout the city, the situation in Anbar province, the deployment of additional Iraqi brigades who are performing well, and other signs of progress that have been made."

Instead, what does the press do? It harps on the hundreds killed around the country in the week before the visit, including at least 152 in Tall Afar, and the six U.S. soldiers killed the day McCain, wearing a flak jacket and surrounded by dozens of troops, was at the market.

We're now in the fifth year of the media's failure to report the good news from Iraq.

There has been much less attention paid to Rep. Mike Pence's assessment. Pence (R-Ind.) seemed most impressed by their shopping outing, saying he was able to "mix and mingle unfettered among ordinary Iraqis." Unfettered even by the troops all around them or the flak jackets the lawmakers wore.

Some nearby shopkeepers recalled that the day before the visit an Iraqi soldier had been shot by a sniper, and the day before that a sniper had killed two more victims.

Pence, however, said he came away from his "day at the market in Baghdad with a new sense of cautious optimism that freedom might just work for these people." The Shorja market, he said, was "like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime."

Really? Just like the weekend farmers market in the Minnetrista Cultural Center parking lot in Muncie?

Maybe not exactly. "There've been no shootings or car bombings" at that market since it opened a few years ago, said Robin Gibson, assistant metro editor of the Star Press in Muncie. So no dangers there at all? "Maybe some overeager dogs jumping at people," she ventured.

Avon Waters, a former features editor and writer for the Herald Bulletin in Anderson, the other relatively big town in Pence's largely rural congressional district, said he never wore a flak jacket and "never felt afraid" when he spent a couple of recent years covering farmers markets in Madison County, including places such as Elwood and Pendleton.

"No snipers or car bombs," Waters reported.

Well, there weren't any during the lawmakers' visit to the Baghdad market either, which enabled Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) to do some excellent shopping. "I bought five rugs for five bucks," he boasted. "People were engaging."


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