web counter Media Lies: Man how I hate the media

Friday, December 24, 2004

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Man how I hate the media

Sometimes it gets so tiring having to plow through the garbage that "reporters" write. Instead of just reporting the facts, they constantly have to interject their personal opinions and biases. It's just downright irritating.

Today, the AP reports on Rumsfeld's visit to the troops in Iraq. Not content with just reporting on the trip, the "reporter" has to add his own bias to the story.
Hoping to bring holiday cheer to the wounded soldiers and demonstrate compassion for the troops' sacrifices, Rumsfeld landed in pre-dawn darkness and immediately headed for a combat surgical hospital where many of the bombing victims were treated after Tuesday's lunchtime attack on a mess tent. The most seriously wounded already have been transferred to a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
If Rumsfeld said that he hoped to bring holiday cheer and demonstrate compassion, then quote him. If not, then don't put it in the story. It's nothing more than your opinion, and it subtly implies that Rumsfeld has an agenda for visiting rather than a desire to see the troops.

In fact, just two paragraphs later, we read Rumsfeld's reasons for going.
In an interview aboard the C-17 cargo plane that brought him to Mosul, Rumsfeld said he'd been planning to visit U.S. troops here long before Tuesday's deadly attack, believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.

"The focus of the trip is to thank the troops and wish them a Merry Christmas," he said.
So WHY do we have to be subjected to your damn opinion?

Make no mistake about it. People who write for a living choose the words that they write. I've written professionally, and I can assure you that I have struggled over a single word at times, trying to make sure that I convey exactly what I want the reader to take away from my article. I have only once written an article, made no edits to it, submitted it for publication and had it accepted without changes. It is a rare occurrence when an article doesn't require numerous changes (both big and small) before it is submitted for publication. (That includes this blog.)

So when you read articles like this, you are reading exactly what the writer wanted you to read. This writer quotes Rumsfeld's own explanation for the trip. Why does he feel the need to "explain" it first? Because he wants you to think of the trip as a cynical political manipulation, not a long-planned visit by a SecDef who really loves the troops.

There's more.
Rumsfeld's stealth Christmas Eve trip came on the heels of several difficult weeks for the defense chief. Several high-profile Republicans have publicly criticized Rumsfeld, prompting President Bush to defend him Monday as a "good human being who cares deeply about the military and deeply about the grief that war causes."

Speaking for himself on Wednesday, Rumsfeld said he stays awake at night worrying about soldiers and their families and shares their grief over lost loved ones.
What's the purpose of mentioning Rumsfeld's "several difficult weeks"? Why choose the word "stealth" to describe his visit? Context. The "reporter" wants to make sure that you don't forget the context - this is an embattled man who is cynically visiting the troops to try and portray a positive image to offset his bad press.

Think about it. The past weeks have nothing to do with this visit. Remember, Rumsfeld said he had planned the visit "long before" the attack on the base. That would also be before the recent criticism. This kind of writing disgusts me. There's no excuse for it other than bias.

But our "reporter" is not done yet.
Rumsfeld has made several visits to troops in the region, most recently two weeks ago to a forward base in Kuwait. There, a handful of soldiers openly challenged him about inadequate equipment and long deployments. Rumsfeld cut off their complaints by saying, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have."

He faced another firestorm earlier this week because he was not personally signing condolence letters to the families of dead soldiers, as the president does. Critics fault him for poor postwar planning and for a steadily growing list of problems, from failure to strangle the insurgency to prisoner abuses in Iraq and Guantanamo.

Rumsfeld's shoot-from-the hip style drew a popular following during the successful military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, but postwar problems in Iraq have soured his standing with Americans. Half now say he should resign even though the president just signed him on for his second-term cabinet.
The first paragrah is an outright lie, as any objective reading of the transcript of the meeting will prove. Rumsfeld did not "cut off" the soldiers' complaints but answered them in full. The second paragraph is a lie as well. The fact is that Rumsfeld did sign some of the letters. He just didn't sign all of them.

The rest is true as far as it goes, but many of the problems Rumsfeld has have been manufactured by the same kind of blatantly biased writing as this "reporter" produces. If I ran a news agency and someone wrote like this for me, I would fire them on the spot.

What follows is an exact copy of the story with the biased and unrelated portions removed. You tell me. Is it the same story?
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, on a Christmas Eve visit with the troops three days after the devastating attack on a U.S. military dining hall here, told soldiers he remained confident of defeating the insurgency and stabilizing Iraq, while noting that to some "it looks bleak."

"There's no doubt in my mind, this is achievable," Rumsfeld, who flew here under tight security, told a couple of hundred 1st Brigade soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division at their commander's headquarters. He promised them that later in life they will look back and feel pride at having contributed to a mission of historic importance.

"When it looks bleak, when one worries about how it's going to come out, when one reads and hears the naysayers and the doubters who say it can't be done, and that we're in a quagmire here," one should recall that there have been such doubters "throughout every conflict in the history of the world," he said.

Out of concern for security, Rumsfeld's aides went to unusual lengths to keep his visit a secret prior to his arrival, with only a few reporters and one TV crew accompanying him on an overnight flight from Washington. In an interview aboard the C-17 cargo plane that brought him to Mosul, Rumsfeld said he'd been planning to visit U.S. troops here long before Tuesday's deadly attack, believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.

"The focus of the trip is to thank the troops and wish them a Merry Christmas," he said.

Rumsfeld has made several visits to troops in the region, most recently two weeks ago to a forward base in Kuwait.

At 72, Rumsfeld is the oldest defense secretary; he was also the youngest when he served for President Gerald Ford.
UPDATE: The folks at Powerline were just as irritated as I was.

UPDATE 2: Somehow, the AP "reporter" missed this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, how do we win the war in the media? It seems like that is the place where we're getting beat up more than anybody else. I've been here -- this is my third tour over here, and we have done some amazing things. And it seems like the enemy's Web sites and everything else are all over the media, and they love it. But the thing is, is everything we do good, no matter if it's helping a little kid or building a new school, the public affairs sends out the message, but the media doesn't pick up on it. How do we win the propaganda war?

RUMSFELD: That does not sound like a question that was planted by the press.


RUMSFELD: That happens sometimes. It's one of the hardest things we do in our country. We have freedom of the press. We believe in that. We believe that democracy can take that massive misinformation and differing of views, and that free people can synthesize all of that and find their way to right decisions.

Out here, it's particularly tough. Everything we do here is harder, because of television stations like Al Jazeera and al-Arabiya and the constant negative approach. You don't hear about the schools are open and the hospitals are open and the clinics are open, and the fact that the stock markets are open and the Iraqi currency is steady, and the fact that there have been something like 140,000 refugees coming from other countries back into this country. They're voting with their feet, because they believe this is a country of the future.

You don't read about that. You read about every single negative thing that anyone can find to report.
(Hat tip to Instapundit - heh.)

UPDATE 3: An eyewitness report of Rumsfeld's visit from a soldier in Iraq.