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Blog: Drudge spreads 'big lie' on Iraq casualties
Mike Sheehan
Published: Wednesday March 14, 2007
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Internet news site The Drudge Report is passing off Iraq casualty figures from a questionable media outlet as fact, a journalist blogger asserts.

"Any legitimate news that U.S. troop deaths are sharply down, in a way that is statistically significant, would be welcomed with open arms by all," says Will Bunch, a senior Philadelphia Daily News writer, at his blog Attytood.

"Matt Drudge is running what purports to be just such a story on the top left of his incredibly influentual Web site right now as I write this," Bunch continues. "The headline reads: 'Baghdad security crackdown seriously curbs killings of US soldiers...'"

He invites readers to check the source of Drudge's link. "The article is not from a credible, independent media outlet," he continues, "but from the Kuwait News Agency (or KUNA). Kuwait is still America's biggest ally in the Gulf (for obvious reasons) and so the source of the story is a huge tell here."

The KUNA article credits the launch of new Baghdad security measures as the reason for a 60 percent decline in "the rate of killings of US troops in Iraq."

Bunch takes issue with a disclaimer in the piece that states, "The statistics excluded US troops killed in other governorates such as Al-Anbar, Diyala, and Salahiddin," which, he counters with data of his own, misrepresents the story.

He accuses Drudge of "spreading a Big Lie," even as the Senate debates troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Bunch writes, "No doubt, the gist of that headline is bounding around the airwaves of talk radio and in the electrons of cyberspace as we speak.

"And it is also influencing the judgment of America's news directors," he continues. "Mark Halperin, the political director of ABC News, and John Harris, who had the same job at the Washington Post and now runs The Politico, wrote a book chapter recently entitled 'How Matt Drudge Rules Our World.'"

"If Matt Drudge really rules their world," Bunch concludes, "it's time for a revolution."

Excerpts from the Attytood blog post, available in full at this link, follow...

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The thing is, I work with the casualty numbers three or four nights every week, producing a feature for the Philadelphia Daily News called the Numbers Racket. And I could tell that the figures in this Kuwait article/press release are nowhere even in the ballpark of reality. For that, we look to the indepedent Web site icasualties.org, which is used by many major news orgs and bases alot of its info on Pentagon releases.

This is the table of all the deaths. First, the one piece of good news. Overall deaths did drop during the period addressed by the article. But the grim news is that the totals are much, much higher than suggested in this story, that tens of thousands of Drudge readers are relying upon for talking points.

The number of American troops killed from Feb. 14 through March 13 is 73, not 17, or more than four times higher. In the prior month, from Jan. 14 through Feb. 13, which was a remarkably bloody period, 116 American troops died. So the tally did drop overall, and that's great news, by it was 37 percent, not nearly the 60 percent as the story reports. And the decline in deaths per day is even less -- because, as the article also fails to note, February only has 28 days.

Here's what I find most significant. The U.S. death rate for the 28-day period in question is 2.61 deaths a day. The daily American death rate since the war began four years ago is 2.37 deaths a day -- so even now, Americans are still dying now in Iraq at a higher-than-average rate for this conflict.

Is anyone really happy with that? As we've argued on this site almost every day since we started it, even 1 American death is one too many in an unnecessary and useless war, based on lies from the start. And now the proponents of more war continue to lie in a desperate effort to keep it going.

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