How News Outlets Reported U.S. Toll in Iraq Hitting 4,000

By: E&P Staff

MSNBC was first to report late Sunday that apparently the grim milestone of 4,000 U.S. military deaths in Iraq had been reached.

It related from Iraq, “Four U.S. soldiers were killed by a bomb blast in southern Baghdad late Sunday, raising the death toll for American forces since start of the war to 4,000, according to the Pentagon.”

The tragedy coincided with a rise in violence across Iraq on Sunday that left at least 61 people dead.

The attacks included rockets and mortars fired at Baghdad’s Green Zone and a suicide car bomb detonated at an Iraqi army post in the northern city of Mosul.

AP reported later: “The U.S. military says a roadside bomb has killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad. That raises the overall American death toll to at least 4,000, a grim milestone as the war enters its sixth year.

“The military says another soldier was wounded when the bomb struck the soldiers’ vehicle during a patrol in southern Baghdad.

“The statement says the soldiers are from Multi-National Division but gives no other details about their identities …

“The milestones for each 1,000 deaths — while an arbitrary marker — serve to rivet attention on the war and have come during a range of pivotal moments.

“When the 1,000th American died in September 2004, the insurgency was gaining steam. The 2,000-death mark came in October 2005 as Iraq voted on a new constitution. The Pentagon announced its 3,000th loss on the last day of 2006 — a day after Saddam Hussein was hanged and closing a year marked by rampant sectarian violence.”

Reuters quoted U.S. military spokesman Rear Admiral Greg Smith: “It is artificial in the sense that somehow the 4,000th tragic loss somehow will be different from the first. I don’t want to say that we shouldn’t recognize that as a milestone. It’s something that we’re not focused on and certainly not going to attribute any more or any less to than any other soldier’s death.”

E&P Editor Greg Mitchell’s new book, “So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits — and the President — Failed on Iraq,” explores press reaction to the rising death toll since 2003. To learn more, go to blog

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