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January 14, 2005

The Media: Aiding and Abetting the Enemy?

It's a serious charge, and I'm not really comfortable making it, at least not in those words.

But LTC Tim Ryan of the 1st Cav apparently is fed up:

I just read yet another distorted and grossly exaggerated story from a major news organization about the "failures" in the war in Iraq. Print and video journalists are covering only a small fraction of the events in Iraq and more often than not, the events they cover are only the bad ones. Many of the journalists making public assessments about the progress of the war in Iraq are unqualified to do so, given their training and experience. The inaccurate picture they paint has distorted the world view of the daily realities in Iraq. The result is a further erosion of international public support for the United States' efforts there, and a strengthening of the insurgents' resolve and recruiting efforts while weakening our own. 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. War is a terrible thing and terrible things happen during wars, even when you are winning. In war, as in any contest of wills with capable opponents, things do not always go as planned; the guys with the white hats don't always come out on top in each engagement. That doesn't mean you are losing. Sure, there are some high profile and very spectacular enemy attacks taking place in Iraq these days, but the great majority of what is happening in Iraq is positive. So why is it that no matter what events unfold, good or bad, the media highlight 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 already 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. Just yesterday, 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.

...

This war is not without its tragedies; none ever are. The key to the enemy's success is use of his limited assets to gain the greatest influence over the masses. The media serves as the glass through which a relatively small event can be magnified to international proportions, and the enemy is exploiting this with incredible ease. There is no good news to counteract the bad, so the enemy scores a victory almost every day. In its zeal to get to the hot spots and report the latest bombing, the media is missing the reality of a greater good going on in Iraq. We seldom are seen doing anything right or positive in the news. People believe what they see, and what people of the world see almost on a daily basis is negative. How could they see it any other way? These images and stories, out of scale and context to the greater good going on over here, are just the sort of thing the terrorists are looking for. This focus on the enemy's successes strengthens his resolve and aids and abets his cause. It's the American image abroad that suffers in the end.

I don't think most of this is actual deliberate -- well, it's deliberate for most of the foreign press, of course, which actually wants America to lose -- but the American press is largely convinced that the war was a mistake, is and always was unwinnable, and that George Bush should be punished, by means foul or fair, for prosecuting it.

They don't intend to aid the enemy, but, once again, you can't cover a war like this and expect any other result.

Thanks to JimW for the tip.


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posted by Ace at 06:16 PM

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