I had to post on this one. Karl at Protein Wisdom has a methodical and thorough post regarding the failures of news organizations to accurately print stories on the War in Iraq since 2003. I can remember no more thorough and well documented post on why we should not believe our own media when they claim Defeat, and subvert Victory in the War on Terror.
The Big Picture(s) [Karl]
In the midst of the still-lingering controversy over the truthiness of The New Republic’s “Baghdad Diarist,” more than a few people suggested that war supporters, unable to discredit the real bad news coming from Iraq, targeted the Scott Thomas Beauchamp stories as a weak link. I cannot speak for everyone who supports the mission in Iraq, but I would submit that Beauchamp’s apparent fables and embellishments are not a “weak link” to be attacked, but simply an egregious example of the establishment media’s flawed coverage of the conflict. Accordingly, what follows is an over view of the establishment media coverage of the conflict in Iraq.
Though public opinion polls consistently show that Americans consider Iraq to be the most important issue facing the country, establishment media has slashed the resources and time devoted to Iraq. The number of embedded reporters plunged from somewhere between 570 and 750 when the invasion began in March 2003 to as few as nine by October 2006. The result was the rise of what journalists themselves call “hotel journalism” and “journalism by remote control.” Janet Reitman, reporting for Rolling Stone, described the state of the media in early 2004:
When I arrive in Baghdad in April, most American journalists are holed up in their rooms, reporting the war by remote: scanning the wires, working their cell phones, watching broadcasts of Al Jazeera. In many cases, they’ve been reduced to relying on sources available to anyone with an Internet connection… While Arabic and European media such as The Guardian and Le Monde manage to cover the war on the ground, American reporters seldom interview actual Iraqis. Instead, they talk to U.S. officials who are every bit as isolated as they are, or rely on local stringers and fixers, several of whom have been killed while working for Americans. “We live in a bubble,” grumbles one AP reporter. “If we know one percent of what’s going on in Iraq, we’re lucky.”
There are exceptions of course, though the number of establishment embeds shows they are literally exceptions. I do not discount the very real danger to Western journos in Iraq, though independent bloggers like Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, Bill Ardolino, and Michael J. Totten seem to have been able to embed outside Baghdad with nothing like the institutional support available to journalists from the establishment media… and that the number of such bloggers is growing. Moreover, I cannot ignore the consequences of “journalism by remote control.”
I don't think I can ever again believe the vast majority of news stories I read about a number of subjects, especially regarding War, Politics, the US Military, and Terrorism as a subject. If reporters AND their editors would just do their jobs professionally and accurately with an eye towards improvement and non partisan behavior and attitudes, as the US military does, we'd all be better off. And the world would truly be a better place.
For you military folks who read this blog, please remember your duty. Do your job as you've been trained to do it. Don't let your actions bring dishonor on you, your family, your service, or your country. The whole World watches you, and expects you to be better than anyone else in the World. It is because the standard is so high, and so many of us have met that standard in the past that they expect perfection from you. We know how hard it is. But we know you can do it, because we see how wonderfully proficient at doing your duty you all are every day, in every way.
Do your duty, for it is the noblest word in the English language. Press on, to Victory.