The most recent polls show the country is almost split on the issue of launching a preemptive strike on Iraq – it is about 53 percent for and 42 percent against, according to a CBS/New York Times poll. One might never know this, however, by simply following the news or listening to politicians. In the media and among decision makers, it is obvious that the pro-war position is over-represented in relation to the opinions of the general population.
The massive amount of people who disagree with war with Iraq was demonstrated by protests spanning the globe this weekend, but it still seems that the pro-war side has the upper hand. Why is this? The news is source-driven, and the majority of sources available to reporters attempting to cover the Iraq discussion are official government spokespeople. These days there is not much of a difference between the Democrat and the Republican line on going to war. There is no way the Democrats would risk the political suicide of arguing against a war that America has the potential to win, even if they are opposed to war. This quandary leaves a gap in the officials available to discuss anti-war sentiments, which is apparent in news coverage.
The anti-war movement is not effective in promoting stable, official sources whom news agencies can speak to, but at the same time news agencies are insufficiently searching out the other side of the issue. It is uncommon to find coverage on the substance of the anti-war movements. The press should cover the arguments against war as much as it covers the arguments for war – currently it is unjustly unbalanced.