In terms of news coverage, the war in Afghanistan is "like a faint heartbeat, accounting for just 4 percent of the nation’s news coverage in major outlets through early December, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism," the New York Times reports today.
And that's down from 5 percent last year.
“It’s never passed the threshold to be a big story week in, week out for Americans,” said Mark Jurkowitz, the associate director of the project.
One senior foreign correspondent for television, when told of the 4 percent coverage figure, said he was impressed — given the relatively small contingent of foreign journalists in Afghanistan.
“There are like seven of us there,” remarked the correspondent, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to call into question his network’s commitment to the war. Those who are there have done courageous work, exposing corruption and documenting military progress in rooting out insurgents.
The low levels of coverage reflect the limitations on news-gathering budgets and, some say, low levels of interest in the war among the public. About a quarter of Americans follow news about Afghanistan closely, according to recent surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.
Twentyfive percent? Actually, that sounds like quite a significant chunk of the US population, particularly given that only 100,000 US troops are in Afghanistan, even now during this height of the Obama "surge." (If I never hear the word "surge" again it will be way too soon.) Our candidates ignored the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan during the recent elections and got away with it, but maybe it's now the case, as casualties of our COIN policy mount, people are tuning in figuratively even if there's little literally to tune in to. If that's true, this notion of "low levels of interest" is just a way for news executives to rationalize their budget, resource and imagination constraints. Like so:
“Inside the United States, you’ve got audiences that are beginning to suffer from war fatigue,” said Tony Maddox, who oversees international coverage for CNN.
Then again, how about sticker shock? It seems impossible to get an accurate tally of the billions and billions of dollars that go to this war -- USA recently came up with the figure $350 million a day, which takes us to about $127 billion a year -- while the massive proportion of the budget that overall covers defense and security costs is another mare's nest of tangled and loose billions. (Sharpen your pencils and have at it here or even here). In these times of economic hardship especially, this is at least a reckless waste of money that endangers our national security at least as much as any wandering band of Taliban.
We get nothing for this treasure and never will -- a hot story that you would think the Lefty MSM would be all over. Maybe this isn't the case because COIN war, which is, at its core, PC (Peace Corps) War, just isn't an offensive enough concept to the Left. Meanwhile, elites of all stripes seem to reckon, the "only" people hurting here are in the military ....