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August 29, 2007

The Media's War Vs. The Real War

Huge and thorough piece by Karl at Protein Wisdom on "The Deciders'" extremely questionable decision-making.

Who's getting the war right? Not the MSM, which is simply too emotionally and egotistically invested in defeat to be trusted.

The establishment media has developed ever more creative ways of reporting US casualties. For example, in April 2007, the McClatchy newspaper chain reported that “March… marked the first time that the U.S. military suffered four straight months of 80 or more fatalities,” without any suggestion as to why the number 80 had any significance. Indeed, the four prior months averaged over 80 casualties; they just weren’t as evenly distributed.

The establishment media also has become more willing to show graphic video of US casualties at the hands of the enemy. CNN aired an insurgent sniper video obtained directly from the enemy. ABC News aired video of a Bradley armored vehicle blown up by an improvised explosive device as six American soldiers died inside, then exploited the grief of family members to attack the current “surge” of troops in Iraq. Similarly, CBS News spiked a story containing video originally posted on an al Qaeda propaganda website, but posted the same video on its own website. Throughout the conflict the establishment media has shied away for the truly graphic images of the enemy beheading civilians.

Conversely, there are the stories “journalism by remote control” misses, or chooses not to cover. As early as September 2003, establishment reporters admitted that “good news” stories were getting short shrift; three years later, nothing had changed (Jane Arraf). If anything, by late 2006, the stories missed were getting larger.

Take, for example, the coverage of events in Anbar province. In September-November 2006, the Washington Post ran a series of articles suggesting that the US military was unable to defeat the bloody insurgency in western Iraq “or counter al-Qaeda’s rising popularity there.” These stories were echoed in the New York Times/International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, NBC News, ABC News, CNN, the AP and others, down to local TV.

But this was not the only picture of events in Anbar. In “Will the Real Anbar Narrative Please Stand Up?”, Bill Ardolino juxtaposed the WaPo stories against analysis by bloggers and embedded reporters like the Times of London’s Martin Fletcher and Michael Fumento for the Weekly Standard. Bill Roggio’s military and intelligence sources were angry over the media’s characterization of the secret reports cited by the WaPo. Roggio examined how the claims made in the WaPo coverage were taken out of the larger context of events in Anbar. Roggio and the Mudville Gazette’s “Greyhawk” charted the formation and rise of the Anbar Salvation Council — the alliance of 25 of the province’s 31 tribes in the fight against al Qaeda. Roggio and Greyhawk followed up when the Anbar tribes got US air and artillery support — a development ignored by the establishment media.

We now know which narrative was more accurate. Al Qaeda was not increasingly popular in Anbar. To the contrary, the local tribes were overwhelmingly opposing and increasingly waging war against al Qaeda, with support from the US military. Bloggers — carefully following and synthesizing information from their own sources, military information, embedded reporters, Arabic media and isolated stories in the establishment media over the course of a year — proved to be better remote journalists than those at the WaPo, NYT, CSM, AP, CNN, NBC and ABC (and any others I have overlooked).

Incidentally, as early as September 2004, Roggio had predicted the tribes would eventually turn on al-Qaeda. This type of development is crucial to winning a war against an insurgency. Popular support is key to the continuation of an insurgency; Mao Zedong famously advised his insurgents to “move through the people like a fish moves through water.” Thus, the magnitude of the media’s failure to recognize the import of the rise of the Anbar Salvation Council — and its portrayal of Anbar province as lost — cannot be understated.

Even now, generally antiwar media outlets are traveling throughout Iraq and revising their opinions. The Guardian reports that violence is ebbing and wealth returning to parts of Iraq, Der Spiegel concludes that the “US Military is more successful in Iraq than the world wants to believe,” and even Salon’s correspondent concedes that parts of Iraq actually seem to be getting better. The establishment media still remains largely confined to quarters in Baghdad.

If that looks like I've merely reprinted the bulk of Karl's post, nope, it's a whole lot more than that. Read the whole thing.


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posted by Ace at 02:56 PM

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