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MacCallum Ignores Report of 790,000 Iraqi Deaths

Reported by Judy - October 12, 2006 -

Martha MacCallum gets an "F" for her "A-List" topics on Fox News' "Live Desk" on Wednesday (Oct. 11, 2006) after she chose to ignore a report that estimated casualties in Iraq since the U.S. invasion may top 600,000.

The report is based on a study by Johns Hopkins University, which estimated civilian deaths totalled between 420,000 and 790,000 in the three-plus years since the war began. It was published in The Lancet, a medical journal.

During MacCallum's one-hour show, the shocking report merited just one sentence, and that was from White House correspondent Wendell Goler. Reporting on George Bush's news conference earlier in the day, Goler said of Bush: "He rejected a report that puts civilian casualties over half a million, saying the methodologies has been discredited.”

And that was it. Nothing about how the American occupation has resulted in more than twice as many deaths as Saddam Hussein managed to cause in 25 years of rule.

When MacCallum turned to her A-List panel, she didn't bother to bring up the topic there, even though her wild card for the day was Bill Cowan, a Fox News military analyst. Instead, MacCallum hadCowan talk about prenuptial agreements signed by celebrities prior to marriage.

Juan Cole, a scholar specializing in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Michigan, discussed the report and its prospects in the media on his blog on Wednesday.

He predicted the report would be met with undue skepticism because "the Republican Party and a significant fraction of the business elite in this country is very invested in the Iraq War, and they will try to discredit the study. Can you imagine the profits being made by the military-industrial complex on all this? Do they really want the US public to know the truth about what the weapons they produce have done to Iraqis? When you see someone waxing cynical about the study, ask yourself: Does this person know what a chi square is? And, who does this person work for, really?"

Cole himself finds the study's conclusions plausible. "The study concludes that an average of 470 Iraqis per day have likely died as a result of political violence since March 19, 2003, though the number could be as low as 350 per day if the margin of error skewed to the low side. United Nations estimates based on figures from Iraqi morgues are more like 100 per day. I follow the violence in Iraq carefully and daily, and I find the results plausible," he said.

Most bodies don't end up at morgues, he said, because Iraqi Muslims generally believe that the body should be buried by sunset the day after death. And many won't report deaths because they don't want to draw attention to themselves.

Cole has a more exhaustive analysis of the report on his blog that is well worth reading.

Polls show that the Iraq War is the top issue on voters' minds this fall, yet Fox News has chosen to ignore the issue, not even offering the "Happy Iraq" stories it used to air. Rather than cover the war, MacCallum focused on a good news report on the economy, asking why the so-called strong economy has not translated into more support for George Bush.

If the news from Iraq were good for Bush, want to guess how much coverage it would be getting on Fox?