"Dude, Where's My Civil War?"

That's the title of a devastating (to the NYT) Ralph Peters column from yesterday's NYPost. He's travelling with the army, and while the big papers reported anti-Americanism on the rise in the wake of the mosque bombing, Peters saw something a little different:
Rolling with the "instant Infantry" gunners of the 1st Platoon of Bravo Battery, 4-320 Field Artillery, I saw children and teenagers in a Shia slum jumping up and down and cheering our troops as they drove by. Cheering our troops.
And this was no mere drive-by impression.
First Lt. Clenn Frost, the platoon leader, took every opportunity to dismount and mingle with the people. Women brought their children out of their compound gates to say hello. A local sheik spontaneously invited us into his garden for colas and sesame biscuits.
It wasn't the Age of Aquarius. The people had serious concerns. And security was No. 1. They wanted the Americans to crack down harder on the foreign terrorists and to disarm the local militias. Iraqis don't like and don't support the militias, Shia or Sunni, which are nothing more than armed gangs.

From the start of the war, it has always been the case that those who are there are optimistic and pessimism grows the further away you get from Iraq. But how can the MSM consistently get the story backwards? Peters offers some of the explanations we already know. Some people have an agenda. Some people are too frightened to leave their hotel rooms:
there's no way we can let irresponsible journalists off the hook - or their parent organizations. Many journalists are, indeed, brave and conscientious; yet some in Baghdad - working for "prestigious" publications - aren't out on the city streets the way they pretend to be.
They're safe in their enclaves, protected by hired guns, complaining that it's too dangerous out on the streets. They're only in Baghdad for the byline, and they might as well let their Iraqi employees phone it in to the States. Whenever you see a column filed from Baghdad by a semi-celeb journalist with a "contribution" by a local Iraqi, it means this: The Iraqi went out and got the story, while the journalist stayed in his or her room.

Which we knew, but here's the additional element I found enlightening.
the Iraqi stringers have cracked the code: The Americans don't pay for good news. So they exaggerate the bad. And some of them have agendas of their own.

So now you know. Keep up with Peters' reports. Today's column is good too (reg. required after one sample read).