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November 28, 2006

NBCNews Declares: After Careful Consideration, We've Decided To Call Democrats' Plan "Cut & Run," Because That's Plainly What It Is

No, not really. Just trying to make a point.

As everyone knows, NBCNews decided to make itself part of the story, and manufacture news, by claiming they had, in their Solomonic wisdom, divined that the violence in Iraq is in fact a "civil war." Which Bush and CENTCOM deny, of course.

Now, one could, without straining definitions, easily categorize the violence as a "civil war." It's not implausible to say we are looking at a sort of low-intensity civil war.

But neither is it implausible to say a true civil war is a higher-intensity sort of affair, not merely abushes and terror attacks here or there, but something resembling open armed combat with battlelines and areas controlled by one faction or the other -- you know, what we usually require for the purposes of calling a conflict a "civil war."

NBCNews violated three major principles of journalism here. More, depending on how you count them.

1) Editorial Bias. Obviously, their claim is designed to cast Bush and CENTCOM as liars, or at least as detached from reality. The media claims to avoid resolving, of their own "expertise," contentious issues such as this (especially purely semantic ones), preferring a he said/she said version of reportage. Note how the media is unwilling to call the Iraqi terrorists "terrorists." Bush and CENTCOM call them terrorists, the terrorists say they're f reedom fighters, the media declines to weigh in on the sematic argument and instead opts for the neutral "insurgents."

There is a lot more clear-cut evidence to call these people "terrorists" than to call the conflict a "civil war." Why is NBCNews so eager to editorialize on one semantic argument but not another?

2) Making themselves the story. "We Report, You Decide." Not for NBCNews. They've decided to report and decide, and, rather than the usual convention of quoting experts for one claim or another, have announced that they themselves are a repository of sufficient expertise to begin rendering judgments.

3) Manufacturing news. There's no new "news" here, except for the fact that NBCNews has decided that it is now a newsworthy player in the conflict itself, and its thinking on this matter is as important -- nay, more so -- than, say, CENTCOM's.

Now, as for my headline: Obviously any plan that involves our troops "redepolying" out of theater -- usually called "retreating" -- is a "cut and run" plan. It is at least a retreat, and a surrender.

This is clear. There is a semantic argument about it, but it is an absurd one -- when you retreat and surrender, well, you're retreating and surrendering. Words have meanings, and "fleeing from the enemy" is a definition of "retreat."

Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that retreating isn't our best option; one can still make a case that such a retreat is in our best interests, and may leave us in a better position to attack our enemies than continuing to fight. And one can claim that the war is unwinnable, making a retreat the preferrable choice.

But one thing you cannot claim is that a retreat is anything other than a retreat. The Democrats continue insisting that their plan to cut and run is really a "tough, strong" "aggressive redeployment" to Okinawa. This is a far sillier semantic claim that maintaining that Iraq is not in civil war. Any number of experts can tell you that in standard military terminology, conceding a theater of battle to an enemy and retracting away from it is a "retreat."

And yet NBCNews feels no particular compunction to settle this fairly-easily resolved semantic debate.

Why the difference?

Note that NBCNews, like all other media organizations, has barely any personnel in Iraq at all, and what few they do have are largely stationed in the Green Zone.

But actually going out there and getting into the sand and blood to report on a war is expensive, nevermind dangerous. Far easier to "report" from the safety of the New York offices, with a hundred liberals calling a dozen liberal "experts" to make up some "news" that they already all knew, at least in their hearts.

I anxiously await NBCNews convening a panel of experts to finally resolve the semantic argument over the definition of "retreat." I imagine it's coming any day now.

And then they can get right on deciding if a living human fetus -- undeniably both "human" and "life" -- is a "human life" or not.

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posted by Ace at 04:26 PM

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