Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Iraq and the Media

The Kansas Redhead is aggravated. I don't blame him. He points out the attached article, which is well worth the read. It's written by one of our soldiers in Iraq -- and he's rightfully angry about the press covergae of Iraq. Here's an excerpt...

...Through their incomplete, uninformed and unbalanced reporting, many members of the media covering the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy.

The fact is the Coalition is making steady progress in Iraq, but not without ups and downs. So why is it that no matter what events unfold, good or bad, the media highlights mostly the negative aspects of the event? The journalistic adage, "If it bleeds, it leads," still applies in Iraq, but why only when it's American blood?

As a recent example, the operation in Fallujah delivered an absolutely devastating blow to the insurgency. Though much smaller in scope, clearing Fallujah of insurgents arguably could equate to the Allies' breakout from the hedgerows in France during World War II. In both cases, our troops overcame a well-prepared and solidly entrenched enemy and began what could be the latter's last stand. In Fallujah, the enemy death toll has exceeded 1,500 and still is climbing. Put one in the win column for the good guys, right? Wrong. As soon as there was nothing negative to report about Fallujah, the media shifted its focus to other parts of the country.

More recently, a major news agency's website lead read: "Suicide Bomber Kills Six in Baghdad" and "Seven Marines Die in Iraq Clashes." True, yes. Comprehensive, no. Did the author of this article bother to mention that Coalition troops killed 50 or so terrorists while incurring those seven losses? Of course not. Nor was there any mention about the substantial progress these offensive operations continue to achieve in defeating the insurgents. Unfortunately, this sort of incomplete reporting has become the norm for the media, whose poor job of presenting a complete picture of what is going on in Iraq borders on being criminal.

Much of the problem is about perspective, putting things in scale and balance. What if domestic news outlets continually fed American readers headlines like: "Bloody Week on U.S. Highways: Some 700 Killed," or "More Than 900 Americans Die Weekly from Obesity-Related Diseases"? Both of these headlines might be true statistically, but do they really represent accurate pictures of the situations? What if you combined all of the negatives to be found in the state of Texas and used them as an indicator of the quality of life for all Texans? Imagine the headlines: "Anti-law Enforcement Elements Spread Robbery, Rape and Murder through Texas Cities." For all intents and purposes, this statement is true for any day of any year in any state. True — yes, accurate — yes, but in context with the greater good taking place — no! After a year or two of headlines like these, more than a few folks back in Texas and the rest of the U.S. probably would be ready to jump off of a building and end it all. So, imagine being an American in Iraq right now.

From where I sit in Iraq, things are not all bad right now. In fact, they are going quite well. We are not under attack by the enemy; on the contrary, we are taking the fight to him daily and have him on the ropes. In the distance, I can hear the repeated impacts of heavy artillery and five-hundred-pound bombs hitting their targets. The occasional tank main gun report and the staccato rhythm of a Marine Corps LAV or Army Bradley Fighting Vehicle's 25-millimeter cannon provide the bass line for a symphony of destruction. As elements from all four services complete the absolute annihilation of the insurgent forces remaining in Fallujah, the area around the former insurgent stronghold is more peaceful than it has been for more than a year.

The number of attacks in the greater Al Anbar Province is down by at least 70-80 percent from late October — before Operation Al Fajar began. The enemy in this area is completely defeated, but not completely gone. Final eradication of the pockets of insurgents will take some time, as it always does, but the fact remains that the central geographic stronghold of the insurgents is now under friendly control. That sounds a lot like success to me. Given all of this, why don't the papers lead with "Coalition Crushes Remaining Pockets of Insurgents" or "Enemy Forces Resort to Suicide Bombings of Civilians"? This would paint a far more accurate picture of the enemy's predicament over here. Instead, headlines focus almost exclusively on our hardships.

What about the media's portrayal of the enemy? Why do these ruthless murderers, kidnappers and thieves get a pass when it comes to their actions? What did the the media show or tell us about Margaret Hassoon, the director of C.A.R.E. in Iraq and an Iraqi citizen, who was kidnapped, brutally tortured and left disemboweled on a street in Fallujah? Did anyone in the press show these images over and over to emphasize the moral failings of the enemy as they did with the soldiers at Abu Ghuraib? Did anyone show the world how this enemy had huge stockpiles of weapons in schools and mosques, or how he used these protected places as sanctuaries for planning and fighting in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq? Are people of the world getting the complete story? The answer again is no! What the world got instead were repeated images of a battle-weary Marine who made a quick decision to use lethal force and who immediately was tried in the world press. Was this one act really illustrative of the overall action in Fallujah? No, but the Marine video clip was shown an average of four times each hour on just about every major TV news channel for a week. This is how the world views our efforts over here and stories like this without a counter continually serve as propaganda victories for the enemy. Al Jazeera isn't showing the film of the C.A.R.E. worker, but is showing the clip of the Marine. Earlier this year, the Iraqi government banned Al Jazeera from the country for its inaccurate reporting. Wonder where they get their information now? Well, if you go to the Internet, you'll find a web link from the Al Jazeera home page to CNN's home page. Very interesting.
Look, I don't know if everything LTC Ryan says is correct. But one of the rants yours truly has been dying to write for the last umpteen years has been my "I'm Sick of Vietnam" rant. Basically, the gist of this eventual piece will be the obsession of some people to comparing every American military maneuver, from Grenada to Lebanon to Afghanistan to Iraq, to the only war America ever lost (please note, the American military did not lose the war -- we, the American people, did). I mean, does anyone ever compare any of our military engagments to the Spanish-American War?

Now, the situation in Iraq is problematic, and the news media generally gravitates toward bad news anyway. But it's my personal belief that many in the news media -- led by the left-wing dishrag -- would love to create another War-Whose-Name-I-Refuse-To-Say-Again for their own unbridled joy in seeing America taken down a peg. Even if you don't want to go that far, it's reasonably clear that the media relishes negative, sensational headlines from Iraq. And some media outlets, like the dishrag, love to undermine the idea that some things are going well in Iraq.

Don't believe me? Take a look at Sarah Boxer's piece in the dishrag today. I'd tear into the "reporting" myself, but Instapundit has a nice roundup of people who have already taken care of it. Part of his last paragraph summarizes it perfectly...

Tom Hazlewood emails: "Give the MSM credit for consistency in Iraq. When Saddam was in power, the MSM refused to tell us the truth about Iraq. Now that he's gone, they still refuse to tell the story of Iraq. That hasn't changed, at all." Faint praise. . . .
I will, at some point this weekend, tie this whole wonderful shot to Dan Rather and CBS. In the meantime, ponder one thought -- if all we still had was the Big Three Networks and the left-wing dishrag, would we still be in Iraq?


Blogger Thomas Hazlewood said...

"I mean, does anyone ever compare any of our military engagments to the Spanish-American War?"

That made me laugh! It also made me wonder whether, if they were still around, our great-grand parents wouldn't have bemoaned VietNam as a replay of the 'quagmire of the Huk Rebellion'.

Regards, Tom Hazlewood

9:01 PM  
Blogger Raje said...


No doubt, I will need to work in the Huk Rebellion at some point into a post. Nice line.

7:34 AM  

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