April 12, 2003
Bush's Political Adviser Faults Some Iraq War Coverage
EW ORLEANS, April 11 — The president's senior political adviser, Karl Rove, told a gathering of newspaper editors here today that the news media's exhaustive coverage of the war in Iraq had confused people by subjecting them to reporters' "mood swings" and the results of endless polling about the military's progress.
In remarks to the annual convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Mr. Rove lamented what he described as news organizations' changing interpretations of how the war was proceeding. He said "the euphoria of April 9," when news coverage was dominated by images of a statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled to the ground in Baghdad, did not match the earlier "flood of commentary that the military was bogged down and the strategy flawed."
"So much information is coming so fast and from so many different directions that it can also make it difficult to maintain perspective," Mr. Rove said. "Ultimately, we must have the capacity to stand back and see the deep currents and the important shape of events."
Mr. Rove praised the Pentagon's policy of "embedding" reporters with the troops in Iraq. "The public has been helped to see the reality of things in a way they never have before," he said, adding that a longtime distrust between the news media and the military had been eased.
But he was critical of the frequency with which newspapers and television networks alike had sought Americans' opinions on the progress of the war and the performance of the president.
"It raises a question: How much polling is too much?" he said. "When does it all begin to take away from the story and overwhelm all of us with too many numbers in too short a period of time?"
Mr. Rove's visit to the editors' convention was the latest of a series of talks he has been giving since the war began, mostly to conservative groups. He devoted much of his speech today to pressing Mr. Bush's domestic agenda, including the administration's tax cut proposals and efforts to improve student achievement.
And for all his criticism of news organizations, the tone of it was often light.
"I'm not here to provide answers, only making observations," he said.
"Observations," he concluded, "shared by 68.5 percent of registered voters in a survey conducted by the Pew Charitable Trust."