... Bush mentioned [Al Qaida] 27 times in a recent speech on Iraq at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. In West Virginia on the Fourth of July, he declared, “We must defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq.”What the editor is saying is that the White House focus on Al Qaida has fooled the media in reporting it incorrectly. But while he says journalists have a responsibility to "ask tough questions about the accuracy" of Bush's statements, McBride is all to happy just to repeat them, day after day after day.
The Associated Press reported last month that although some 30 groups have claimed credit for attacks on United States and Iraqi government targets, press releases from the American military focus overwhelmingly on Al Qaeda...
And in using the language of the administration, [The Times] has also failed at times to distinguish between Al Qaeda, the group that attacked the United States on Sept. 11, and Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, an Iraqi group that didn’t even exist until after the American invasion.
There is plenty of evidence that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is but one of the challenges facing the United States military and that overemphasizing it distorts the true picture of what is happening there. While a president running out of time and policy options may want to talk about a single enemy that Americans hate and fear in the hope of uniting the country behind him, journalists have the obligation to ask tough questions about the accuracy of his statements...
Recent Times stories from Iraq have referred, with little or no attribution — and no supporting evidence — to “militants linked with Al Qaeda,” “Sunni extremists with links to Al Qaeda” and “insurgents from Al Qaeda.” The Times has stated flatly, again without attribution or supporting evidence, that Al Qaeda was responsible for the bombing of the Golden Dome mosque in Samarra last year, an event that the president has said started the sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.
For the president, an emphasis on Al Qaeda has political advantages at a time when powerful former allies, like Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are starting to back away from his war policy. Al Qaeda is an enemy Americans understand, in contrast to the messy reality of an Iraq where U.S. troops must also deal with Sunni nationalists, Shiite militias and even criminal gangs.
“Remember, when I mention Al Qaeda, they’re the ones who attacked the United States of America and killed nearly 3,000 people on September the 11th, 2001,” Bush said in the Naval War College speech.
Actually, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which came into being in 2003, pledged its loyalty to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda the next year but is not believed to be under his operational control.
McBride, of course, would dismiss the NY Times editor's views out of hand as being another example of media bias.
Which, when you think about it, is a pretty outrageous position from someone who teaches college journalism courses and is willing to trash one of the country's best newspapers because its editorial page doesn't follow the Bush script.