Anti-Patriotism: the Press Undermines the Iraq War Effort UPDATED!!

The morning he was to report to Congress on the results of the military surge in Iraq, General David Petraeus awoke to a barrage of major newspapers seeking to undermine him and the war effort. 

Monday's New York Times tipped the left's hand:  “Some Democrats took issue with the characterization of General Petraeus as operating free of influence from the administration, suggesting that they would like to diminish his credibility heading into days of intense sparring over how much more time Mr. Bush's strategy for Iraq should be given.”

UPDATE: purchased a now-infamous full page ad in Monday's Times deriding General Petraeus as "General Betray Us," and accusing him of "cooking the books" in his report. Turns out the Times sold MoveOn the page at a very deep discount:  the standard political advocacy rate is $167,157, but MoveOn paid just $65,000 See Terry Trippany's September 11 post on

Congressional Democrats, expecting Petraeus to conclude that we're making progress and the U.S. should continue the fight in Iraq, have been chopping away at the general's credibility for days.  The principal line of attack has been to suggest that Petraeus's report is not independent, but was dictated to the general by the White House.  Some politicians have even referred to it as the “Bush Report.”  The press is repeating the drumbeat.

According to the Times, the Bush administration has “presented” Petraeus and Harry Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, who is also delivering a report, as “unbiased professionals, not Bush partisans.”  The Times immediately cast doubt on Petraeus's independence, arguing that Bush has “said for years that force level decisions should be left to military commanders,” but the decision to send additional “surge” troops to Iraq “was primarily made in the White House, specifically by the president...”

USA Today pitched in with a poll claiming that Americans “are skeptical of what [Petraeus] will say.” The poll found that “53 percent of those surveyed say the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq will deliver 'a biased report that reflects what the Bush administration wants the public to believe.'”

As if anticipating that Petraeus planned to ask for more time to prosecute the war in Iraq, the USA Today/Gallup poll found a “record 60 percent say the United States should set a timetable to withdraw forces 'and stick to that timetable regardless of what is going on in Iraq.'”

In a front page article, "The Iraq Report's Other Voice," The Washington Post suggested that Petraeus's testimony may be less important than that of Crocker, the ambassador to Iraq.

Why have the Democrats and the press been so resolute in opposing Petraeus's report, which was expected to report significant progress in Iraq?  According to a second article in the Post, Democratic attitudes toward the war hardened after antiwar activists registered “outrage” online following Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's statement, shortly after the 2006 elections, that he might “go along with” President Bush's plan to send more troops into Iraq.

Brian Fitzpatrick is senior editor at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the MediaResearchCenter.