Some things the mass media "forgot" to tell you
By Oliver North, in Afghanistan
On Sept. 18, the Afghan people went to the polls to elect a new national parliament. It was similar to the kind of legislative election we will hold in less than six weeks -- with the same portent for political change. Yet most U.S. media coverage of Afghanistan's experiment in representative government focused on insurgent attacks aimed at disrupting the vote. Newspaper and television reports claimed "low voter interest" and highlighted "Taliban attacks aimed at reducing turnout." But, as we learned once we arrived here, those stories were simply wrong.
There were insurgent attacks -- but one-third fewer than during last year's presidential elections. According to international observers, fewer than 1 percent of polling stations had any violence at all. And those same monitors reported voter turnout -- an estimated 3.6 million, or about 40 percent of those eligible -- was actually higher than it was in the 2009 election.
Set aside for a moment that most Afghan voters had to ignore the risk of violence, walk to their local polling stations and wait in long lines -- and that turnout was higher than it is in most of our "off-year" elections. Ask instead how those who reported this story managed to get it so wrong. The answer, of course, is that there is an agenda in many of our media. Those who "shape the news" have a predisposition for the negative and make a conscious choice to ignore "good news" that contradicts their bias.
Therefore, "news" from here tends to spotlight corruption in the Karzai government, the tribulations caused by pervasive opium production and American military losses. Reports datelined "Kabul" and stories filed from Kandahar and Herat frequently cite the ineffectiveness of the Afghan National Security Forces. Yet when Gen. David Petraeus commended the ANSF after the recent elections for "safeguarding a weapon with greater potential than any other: the people's right to vote," he was all but ignored.
Thank goodness few of the warriors we are covering here in Afghanistan are even aware of the intrigues swirling in Washington or the negative news so fascinating to our media elites. The troops here are too busy fighting America's real enemies.