Dumb Numbers?

Seems like no one can quite figure out how many Iraqis have been killed following the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. The Post turned heads with its report today that put the number at 1,300 (according to Baghdad’s central morgue). But it’s becoming hard to corroborate that number.

  • “Later, however, Iraq Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari called such high death totals “inaccurate and exaggerated,” without mentioning the Post.”

  • The New York Times has the number at “379 dead and 458 wounded, the nation’s Council of Ministers said today. At least 246 people in Baghdad alone were killed, the top two city morgue officials said.”

  • “The Associated Press carried this on Tuesday: ‘The Post cited figures from the Baghdad central morgue, but an official there told The Associated Press that as of Sunday night they had received only 249 bodies tied to the violence. The Post figure appeared high based on police and hospital reports from the major population centers at the time of the attacks.'”

  • “The Los Angeles Times, after noting the different figures today, added another, from Haidar Safar, a Ministry of Health official in charge of compiling data from hospitals and morgues across the country. He said 519 Iraqis have died from violence across the country since the blast occurred.”

Is this an example of excellent reporting by the Post? Or misleading?

>UPDATE: Over at CBS’ Public Eye Blog, Hillary Profita discusses how CBS is dealing with the sensitive number issue. It may be that slow and steady may win the race here; more confirmation is needed in order to verify the Post’s number.