TODAY’S LETTERS: Iraq War, Mortgage Coverage And ‘NYT’ Changes

By: E&P Staff

Readers wrote in today about the Iraq war, mortgage coverage and changes to The New York Times

5 Years Ago: Many Top Newspapers Opposed War
I read your article, “Believe It or Not – 5 Years Ago, Many Top Newspapers Opposed the War.”

I am not an editor of a newspaper, nor do I work for one. Yet five years ago I, too, opposed the Iraq War. Believing in the power of the pen, I wrote several letters to my hometown paper, opposing it. None were published. I wrote my congressman…no reply. I wrote to the governor of my state…no reply. I discussed my beliefs with my pastor…I was informed God didn’t want my views to go against the president. Still, I continued to voice my opinion to friends. Most were supportive of the war, and believed I was wrong. One friend blatantly stated I should leave the United States because it was “un-American” to be against the war. Yet, this same person would send his son to Canada, if the draft was re-instated.

It seems many commentators and editorialists were taking the same position as my friends. Perhaps, out of pressure, the war went from front page news to back page obscurity. Less and less did I read about men and women coming home wounded but denied proper care. Even less mentioned was the war’s toll on military families, the financial strain, mental health issues, and suicide. Directly or indirectly, newspapers were encouraging us to support the war, with little attention to those who came home in a coffin. Instead, we celebrated Saddam Hussein’s downfall without realizing its consequences.

Yet, there were a few bright spots in journalism…those who stood firmly against the Iraq war. I am sure it is difficult for any newspaper to take an unpopular stand. Likewise, I have no doubt they were criticized, ridiculed, and even condemned. Yet, their refusal to back down encouraged me to continue my opposition to the war. They have given me vindication…people are now realizing how wrong the war is. And, they have given me hope…perhaps, in the future, other newspapers will follow suit and stand up for what they believe in.

Although attempts were made to silence it, free speech is still alive and well. Long live the newspapers who were brave enough to use it!!!.

Thank you for your article. Thank you for reading my opinion.

Linda M. Smith
Irmo, S.C.

How News Outlets Reported U.S. Toll in Iraq Hitting 4,000
I very much appreciated the in-depth discussion today marking the deaths of 4,000 American soldiers in Iraq.

However, the report leaves many questions unanswered. It would be helpful if the media would give us reports that put these numbers in context — the numbers alone are somewhat meaningless. (I don’t actually mean “meaningless” here. My brother was killed during the Vietnam conflict, so I know well that such numbers are never meaningless. But I would like to know what America is sacrificing in this war, compared to previous wars.)

For example, what is the ratio of deaths to U. S. personnel deployed to Iraq vs. Vietnam? In a ratio to, say, the Gross National Product, what exactly is our indebtedness for Iraq compared to Vietnam, Korea or even World War II? What percentage of the wounded coming home from Iraq would have been expected to die in previous wars? What resources are being dedicated to helping the returning wounded, compared to previous wars? What percentage of jobs that were done by soldiers and U.S. agencies in previous wars are being done by private contractors in Iraq, and what percentage of U.S. expenditures in Iraq would have been in the military budget in previous wars?

I am an American citizen living in Canada and a 1968 Stanford journalism graduate.

Merry Chellas

It appears the “American Puublic” does not want to be un-misinformed . I have travelled eastern United States while doing my section hiking of the Appalachian Trail over 5 years, and have met many Americans of different ages , stages , and employment . Generally most Americans are quite comfortable with the American world view- ‘we are might, we are right.’

I am a Canadian, we have : CBC, BBC, France 5, CNN, NBC, ABC etc. I am somewhat of a news hound. The American media feeds Americans what they want to hear, no more no less. Other national medias were quick and quite precise in reporting a more realistic world view. They did not buy nor sell the official story of 911-Iraq connection which was insinuated by the US Government.

With 4,000 U.S. deaths , not much is made of the million Iraqi deaths, the 4 million refugees, the effects of depleted uranium on soldiers and civilians, and the use of Iraq testing ground for new atrocious weapons. The rest of the world knows the war crimes committed in the middle east. The Press knows, but wave the Flag 3 times, Americans , get tears in their eyes, and don?t want to hear nor see anything else as long as they are fed their regular brain mush !

The free press is a myth that no longer allows itself to exist.

Alonzo Leger
New Brunswick, Canada

Big Design Changes for Opening Pages of ‘NYT’
My first reaction to the changes over three up-front pages in the Times was, “What a great idea!”
Then I started reading the vastly expanded summaries of many of the stories in the paper. By the time I finished the triple-page treat, I was tired enough to feel that the new treatment is too much of a good thing. Also, on a second take, the summaries just don’t look right when you remember that those pages were largely filled with real news stories just the day before. If the Tiimes feels the new treatment will make it more marketable to the public, I suspect it will be disappointed.

Wes Pedersen
Chevy Chase, Md.

Fitch To Tribune: Sell, Zell, Sell
Why has there been no significant effort by the Left to acquire media sources? I cannot find an answer to this question.

Every time a newspaper or broadcast station is mentioned to be ‘up for sale’ I can only find right-winged corporate candidates mentioned vying for the purchase of said medias. With all of the terrible influence that the media has applied, especially since ‘9/11’, in backing simply everything that this Administration has wanted. Questioning almost nothing. This coupled with a decidedly passive citizenry has led to a terrible war , economy and a loss of National integrity.

The general public looks at a few headlines and 19 minutes of T.V. network and radio news. Except for Air America, Bill Moyers , and Frontline their is very little broadcast news and printed media offering an opposition to the tsunami of right wing talk shows and sycophantic media.

Why won’t the big money of the Left step up and correct this horrific imbalance???

Barry De Jasu

Newspaper Biz Editors Defend Mortgage Crisis Coverage
A nuanced and well-researched story on the media’s response to the mortgage-meltdown story. The Columbia professor mostly gets it wrong, in this reader’s opinion. If anything, the AP, Reuters, et al, have been overly pessimistic in their coverage for quite a while.

Typical AP stories by Martin Crutsinger and/or Joe Bel Bruno will take a mostly flat or slightly down day on the Dow and headline the story “Dow Falls” or “Dow Down.” Seasoned readers know that a 100 point move on the Dow (in either direction) is less than one percent of market equity. But readers who grew up in the days of a sub-1000 Dow are still accustomed to getting excited over a 100 point shift.

I digress.

Jim Parker
Lakeland, Fla.

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