Adrian Blomfield went to Baghdad as a strong believer in regime change. Now he thinks that Bush has messed up in Iraq — and should be booted out of the White House
The other day, shortly after returning from a longish stint in Iraq on behalf of the Daily Telegraph, I had dinner with a staunch Republican friend at a restaurant here. I was expecting a stern rebuke, and she did not disappoint. ‘I thought you were fairly unbiased,’ she said. ‘Yet your stories became increasingly focused on the attacks. Why didn’t you write about the good things, about how Americans troops are building schools and restoring services?’
Many of those intending to vote for President Bush next week would share my chum’s frustrations. They believe there is a conspiracy, perpetrated by the undoubtedly liberal-dominated press, to bury the good news and report only on the bad in an effort to make sure he is not re-elected.
Do they have a point? The difference between the despondency of media reports from Iraq and the optimism of the press releases put out by US military command in Baghdad certainly could not be starker.
My inbox is filled with emails from a Sgt Steve Valley at the Coalition Press Information Center bearing cheery headlines such as ‘Iraqi Children Get a Kick out of Donation’, ‘Winning Hearts by Filling Stomachs’ and ‘Another Precision Strike in Fallujah’. Sgt Valley, who signs off his emails with the words ‘Cowboy Up’, recounts heart-warming tales of brave American soldiers handing out soccer balls to children, delivering food to poor mothers and rebuilding schools, clinics and playgrounds.