web counter Media Lies: A military man speaks

Friday, January 14, 2005

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A military man speaks

Blackfive has published an essay on the media, written by a soldier, that excoriates the press for their unctuous coverage of the war in Iraq. He has much to say, and with an unerring aim he drives right to the center of the problem.
Much of the problem is about perspective, putting things in scale and balance. From where I sit in my command post at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, things are not all bad right now. In fact, they are going quite well. We are not under attack by the enemy; on the contrary, we are taking the fight to him daily and have him on the ropes. In the distance, I can hear the repeated impacts of heavy artillery and five hundred-pound bombs hitting their targets in the city. The occasional tank main gun report and the staccato rhythm of a Marine Corps LAV or Army Bradley Fighting Vehicle's 25-millimeter cannon provide the bass line for a symphony of destruction. Right now, as elements from all four services complete the absolute annihilation of the insurgent forces remaining in Fallujah, the area around the former stronghold is more peaceful than it has been for more than a year. The number of attacks in the greater Al Anbar Province is down by at least 70-80% from late October -- before Operation Al Fajar began. The enemy in this area is completely defeated, but not completely gone. Final eradication of the pockets of insurgents will take some time, as it always does, but the fact remains that the central geographic stronghold of the insurgents is now under friendly control. That sounds a lot like success to me. Given all of this, why don't the papers lead with "Coalition Crushes Remaining Pockets of Insurgents" or "Enemy Forces Resort to Suicide Bombings of Civilians"? This would paint a far more accurate picture of the enemy's predicament over here. Instead, headlines focus almost exclusively on our hardships.
Why indeed?

I've asked myself this question more times than I care to count. What is wrong with the press? Why can't they tell the truth? They're Americans. Do they hate this country? Are they incapable of seeing both sides of a story?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I know this. Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, "right-wing" radio, blogs — they all exist because the press isn't doing its job — because the press is not telling the whole story. It isn't that they lie so much as they don't tell the truth. They tell part of the story, leaving out essential details that give the story balance and help the reader to understand the situation more fully.

LTC Ryan points out that the media is being shamelessly and skillfully manipulated by the terrorists, yet they dutifully file their stories, supporting the terrorists' point of view without so much as bothering to ask why.
The scene is repeated all too often: an attack takes place in Baghdad and the morning sounds are punctuated by a large explosion and a rising cloud of smoke. Sirens wail in the distance and photographers dash to the scene a few miles away. Within the hour, stern-faced reporters confidently stare into the camera while standing on the balcony of their tenth-floor Baghdad hotel room, their back to the city and a distant smoke plume rising behind them. More mayhem in Gotham City they intone, and just in time for the morning news. There is a transparent reason why the majority of car bombings and other major events take place before noon Baghdad-time; any later and the event would miss the start of the morning news cycle on the U.S. east coast. These terrorists aren't stupid; they know just what to do to scare the masses and when to do it. An important key to their plan is manipulation of the news media. But, at least the reporters in Iraq are gathering information and filing their stories, regardless of whether or the stories are in perspective. Much worse are the "talking heads" who sit in studios or offices back home and pontificate about how badly things are going when they never have been to Iraq and only occasionally leave Manhattan.
It's insane. Is there not one person in the US press with enough intelligence to see through this charade? Or are they fully aware of what's going on and doing it deliberately?

Read the whole thing. If it doesn't make you question what you really know about Iraq, you don't understand how bad the problem is right now.

UPDATE: You can find LTC Ryan's published article at World Tribune.