April 24, 2009
Another MSM deception
This time by Newsweek:
"Newsweek greeted the coming of Easter with a black cover, and the headline 'The Decline and Fall of Christian America,' spelled out in red in the shape of a cross. Inside, it was more declarative: 'The End of Christian America.' Why? Because they found that the percentage of self-identified Christians had fallen 10 points since 1990. Okay, then let's compare. How much has Newsweek's circulation fallen since 1990? Just since 2007, their announced circulation has dropped by 52 percent. It would be more plausible to state 'The End of Newsweek.' At the end of 2007, Newsweek reduced its 'base rate' (or circulation guaranteed to advertisers) from 3.1 million to 2.6 million, a 16 percent drop. ... Newsweek's strategy in the midst of all its financial decline is to double and triple the amount of editorializing, cast aside all semblance of 'news' in favor of long, liberal essays by self-impressed Newsweek editor Jon Meacham and his international editor Fareed Zakaria. Is that really a business solution, or is it the captains performing violin solos on the deck of the Titanic? Christianity, in contrast to Newsweek, is in decent demographic shape. The American Religious Identification Survey that Newsweek touted -- from Trinity College in Connecticut -- estimated there are now 173.4 million self-identified Christians in America, up from 151.2 million in 1990. The percentage declined, but the actual number increased. ...[T]he top minds at Newsweek think they are the wisest of men, the definers of trends and the shepherds of public opinion. So why is everyone abandoning their advice? Why are the captains of a magazine that's lost half its circulation telling the rest of us where the mainstream lies?" --Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell
[Emphasis added - ed.]
Via The Patriot Post
May 08, 2008
Reality vs. "media truth"
Barack Obama held a victory rally at Reynolds Coliseum in North Carolina. The television media who were there presented it as a packed house:
Mary Katharine Ham, a journalist who works in North Carolina, was present at the rally, and snapped this picture of it:
Seems to be quite a dichotomy between the media portrayal of events, and reality. Eh?
[Via Cassy Fiano at Wizbang.]
April 17, 2008
As it turns out, Basra is not the disaster that American media was trying to paint it three weeks ago. In fact, life in Basra was improved by the Maliki crackdown. Here's an excerpt from a report by Agence France Presse:
Three weeks after Iraqi troops swarmed into the southern city of Basra to take on armed militiamen who had overrun the streets, many residents say they feel safer and that their lives have improved. The fierce fighting which marked the first week of Operation Sawlat al-Fursan (Charge of the Knights) has given way to slower, more focused house-by-house searches by Iraqi troops, which led on Monday to the freeing of an abducted British journalist. Residents say the streets have been cleared of gunmen, markets have reopened, basic services have been resumed and a measure of normality has returned to the oil-rich city. The port of Umm Qasr is in the hands of the Iraqi forces who wrested control of the facility from Shiite militiamen, and according to the British military it is operational once again.
Why isn't our American media reporting this?
[Via Hot Air.]
April 09, 2008
Objectivity in reporting
Ed Driscoll at Silicon Graffiti compares and contrasts the reporting on two similar situations involving elderly veterans.
August 31, 2007
It is not surprising to me that a CNS study found that the morning news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC were promoting Democrat presidential candidates over their Republican counterparts.
The study found that 55 percent of campaign stories on ABC's Good Morning America , CBS's The Early Show and NBC's Today focused on Democratic candidates while only 29 percent focused on Republicans. The remaining 16 percent were classified as "mixed/independent."
The morning shows aired 61 stories focused exclusively on Sen. Hillary Clinton, 44 stories on former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, and 41 stories on Sen. Barack Obama, all of whom are seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Former Vice President Al Gore, who is not officially running, was the subject of 29 stories.
Republican candidates received less attention, according to the study. Sen. John McCain was the focus of 31 stories. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was the focus of 26 stories and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney was the focus of 19 stories.
Interviews with Democratic candidates or their representatives accounted for more than four-and-a-half hours of airtime in the first seven months of 2007. Interviews with Republicans candidates or their representatives accounted for less than two hours, according to the study.
It's been a real lovefest, I tell ya . . .
June 30, 2007
June 27, 2007
May 30, 2007
Chief Warrant Officer Jim Funk, of the Iowa National Guard, is in Iraq and has written to friends and family this accurate assessment of the media's role in the Iraq conflict.
"Hello media, do you know you indirectly kill American soldiers every day? You inspire and report the enemy's objective every day. You are the enemy's greatest weapon. The enemy cannot beat us on the battlefield so all he does is try to wreak enough havoc and have you report it every day. With you and the enemy using each other, you continually break the will of the American public and American government.
Read the whole thing.
April 27, 2007
The media as Hezbollah's weapon
World Politics Watch reports on a Harvard study titled: "The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict." Here's how the report begins:
While the war between Israel and Hezbollah raged in Lebanon and Israel last summer, it became clear that media coverage had itself started to play an important role in determining the ultimate outcome of that war. It seemed clear that news coverage would affect the course of the conflict. And it quickly transpired that Hezbollah would become the beneficiary of the media's manipulation.
A close examination of the media's role during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon comes now from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, in an analysis of the war published in a paper whose subtitle should give pause to journalists covering international conflict: "The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict." Marvin Kalb, of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, methodically traces the transformation of the media "from objective observer to fiery advocate." Kalb painstakingly details how Hezbollah exercised absolute control over how journalists portrayed its side of the conflict, while Israel became "victimized by its own openness."
Go read the rest.
April 26, 2007
The story of Jessica Lynch
Richard S. Lowry provides a well-researched perspective on the story of Jessica Lynch's capture and subsequent rescue. Here's how he begins:
TODAY, THE HOUSE Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chaired by Henry Waxman (D-CA) conducted a hearing into "misleading military statements" that followed the death of Pat Tillman and the ordeal of Jessica Lynch. I cannot speak of the Pat Tillman incident, but I can speak to the story of Jessica Lynch.
I spent more than two years of my life studying the battle of An Nasiriyah. I read thousands of pages of government reports and personally interviewed nearly one-hundred of the participants of the battle, including four survivors of the 507th Maintenance Company's ambush, several Marines who came upon the scene of the ambush, a young Marine who worked in the regimental intelligence shop and was responsible for the safekeeping of Jessica's personal effects, and several of the soldiers, sailors, and Marines who were actually involved in her rescue. The results of my research were published last year in Marines in the Garden of Eden.
Following her rescue, unsubstantiated reports abounded, the media made a variety of assertions: Jessica Lynch was a pretty teenage girl who had been subjected to the ravages of an unjust war. She had been sent into battle with inadequate equipment and protection. After taking a wrong turn, Iraqis feigning surrender had ambushed her unit. Yet, she bravely fought off the enemy until she could resist no longer. Because of the incompetence of the leadership in Washington, D.C., she had been taken prisoner by evil Iraqis who did unspeakable things to her.
This was the type of story that had "legs." Every news producer in America salivated when they read the first copy. They knew that their ratings would skyrocket when the story of this fragile American girl was told. This was the type of story that would go down in history. There was only one problem -- most of the story wasn't true.
Go read the rest.
[Via John at OPFOR.]
April 25, 2007
How our media is manipulated
J.D. Johannes, embedded with the Marines in Anbar Province, reports on a Washington Post report about a terrorist attack -- and then explains how the WaPo article is woefully inaccurate -- because he witnessed the attack in person.
Here is what really happened, along with some astute observations:
AQIZ's attack on Blackfoot, 1-501 was a dismal failure.
The two SVBIED plan is for the first to breach the wall or knock out a tower, allowing the second to enter the OP's compound.
The only thing the SVBIEDs accomplished was creating a crater 25-feet deep and 70-feet in diameter 50 yards from the south wall of OP Omar.
If a coalition assault on an AQIZ base ever failed so miserably, the press and certain members of Congress would be in an uproar. But AQI doesn't hold press conferences and conflates the facts in its press releases.
No American service members were killed. Only one was wounded seriously enough to warrant a medevac--a large piece of shrapnel in his arm.
The fact that AQIZ was able to stage a complex attack on OP Omar should be taken for what it was--an attempt at the spectacular that was a spectacular failure.
In the days after the attack, there was little no enemy contact in OP Omar's district and only limited contact in the Karmah AO.
I will not hazard a guess as to whether another complex attack is in the wings for Omar or any of the other OPs in Karmah, but my anecdotal experience is that once AQIZ gives it all they got in an area and fail, they lose their grip.
I expect as the debates rage in Congress, AQIZ will step up the rate of complex attacks.
The enemy was not able to dislodge the paratroopers of Blackfoot from OP Omar, but Congress may be more successful.
Go read this post -- and others in the Outside the Wire blog. It will open your eyes to the fact that when our news media gives us a glimpse of Iraq, we are looking through a glass darkly . . .
April 13, 2007
Bias in the BBC
Ed Driscoll discusses a book by former BBC journalist, Robin Aitken, that describes a 'corrosive internal culture' in the BBC.
What is the BBC's worldview? "I think the BBC, by and large, lines up behind what I would term the progressive consensus on whatever issue one happens to be talking about," Aitken recently told me. "So for instance, during the era of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, the BBC was too willing to find excuses for Soviet misdeeds and excesses; was too sympathetic for the notion of unilateral nuclear disarmament; was too hostile and suspicious of the motives of the US.
"In other words" Aitken continues, "it was too skeptical of the West and its motives; not skeptical enough of the Soviet Union and its motives. And I think that in bending over backwards to be fair, it often tips the other way, and is actually unfair to our side if you like."
This tends to line up well with my (admittedly limited) experience with the BBC over the last 25 years, or so, during the European travel phase of my career.
January 18, 2007
Roadblocks to getting it right
Amir Taheri provides some interesting insight about why the media has had such difficulty with accurate reporting on Iraq. It's not what you think . . .
JUST outside Um al-Qasar, a port in south east Iraq, a crowd had gathered around a British armored car with a crew of four. An argument seemed to be heating up through an interpreter.
The interpreter told the Brits that the crowd was angry and wanted U.K. forces out of Iraq. But then a Kuwaiti representative of Amnesty International, accompanied by a journalist friend, approached - and found the crowd to be concerned about something quite different.
The real dispute? The day before, a British armored vehicle had an accident with a local taxi; now the cab's owner, backed by a few friends, was asking the Brits to speed up compensating him. Did these Iraqis want the Brits to leave, as the interpreter pretended? No, they shouted, a thousand times no!
So why did the interpreter inject that idea into the dialogue? Shaken, he tried a number of evasions: Well, had the Brits not been in Iraq, there wouldn't have been an accident in the first place. And, in any case, he knows that most Iraqis don't want foreign troops . . .
Since 2003, Iraq has experienced countless similar scenes, with interpreters, guides and "fixers" projecting their views and prejudices into the dialogue between Iraqis and the outside world.
Immediately after liberation, interpreting and "fixing" for the Coalition and for hundreds of foreign media people became a cottage industry, employing thousands. Most of those were former Ba'athist officials, often from the Ministry of Information or media companies owned by Saddam Hussein and his relatives. Some tried to curry favor with the new masters; others decided to wage political guerrilla war against the "invaders" by misleading them. Both ended up offering a twisted view of post-liberation Iraq.
Read the rest. There are several other reasons discussed. You'll find it a fascinating article.
January 09, 2007
A letter to Lou Dobbs
Donald Boudreaux, Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University, writes a letter to CNN managing editor, Lou Dobbs, and provides him with a remedial economics lesson. Here's how he begins.
Dear Mr. Dobbs, Congratulations on having a large new bloc of voters bear your name! Politicians ignore the "Lou Dobbs Democrats" at their peril.
Every night on CNN you claim to speak for these people. They are America's middle class: decent folks who work hard and play by the rules but who, you insist, are abused by the powerful elite. Free trade is one of the policies allegedly supported by the elite and for which you reserve special vitriol. You thunder that imports destroy American jobs, reduce wages, and make the economy perilously "unbalanced."
But you are mistaken.
Go read the rest.
December 07, 2006
AP integrity (or lack thereof)
Jules Crittenden, over at the Boston Herald website, posted an op-ed that essentially calls for news agencies to boycott the Associated Press's shoddy product.
When a company defrauds its customers, or delivers shoddy goods, the customers sooner or later are going to take their business elsewhere. But if that company has a virtual monopoly, and offers something its customers must have, they may have no choice but to keep taking it. That’s when the customers, en masse, need to raise a stink. That’s when someone else with the resources needs to seriously consider whether the time is ripe to compete.
Go read the whole thing.
December 05, 2006
The military and the media
Bill Roggio, currently in Iraq, has a post up about the perceived dichotomy between what our media is reporting and what our military is experiencing in Iraq.
In nearly every conversation, the soldiers, Marines and contractors expressed they were upset with the coverage of the war in Iraq in general, and the public perception of the daily situation on the ground. The[y] felt the media was there to sensationalize the news, and several stated some reporters were only interested in “blood and guts.” They freely admitted the obstacles in front of them in Iraq. Most recognized that while we are winning the war on the battlefield, albeit with difficulties in some areas, we are losing the information war. They felt the media had abandoned them.
This is well worth following. Recommended.
December 04, 2006
Beware the doomsaying about Iraq!
The Washington, D.C. Examiner has a cautionary editorial about the media's rush to judgement about Iraq.
President Bush was right to declare yesterday in Latvia that he will not withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq until the “mission is complete” because “we can accept nothing less than victory for our children and our grandchildren.” It appears Bush’s characteristic Texas stubbornness is the only thing standing between victory and the U.S. defeat that has all but been proclaimed by Washington’s foreign policy establishment and its friends in the mainstream media like “60 Minutes” reporter Lara Logan. She insisted in her weekend interview with Gen. John Abizaid that “managing the defeat” is America’s only option.
Go read the rest.
December 02, 2006
Voice in the wilderness
Michael Fumento makes a good point in this lamentation about two "journalists" who publish summary judgements based upon illicitly obtained (and incomplete) classified information and the opinion of an anonymous source.
Will the real Ramadi please stand up?
By Michael Fumento
"The U.S. military is no longer able to defeat a bloody insurgency in western Iraq [Al Anbar Province] or counter al Qaeda's rising popularity there, according to newly disclosed details from a classified Marine Corps intelligence report," began a front-page article in yesterday's Washington Post by Dafna Linzer and Thomas E. Ricks. It concerned the so-called "Devlin Report," a five-page document allegedly filled with gloom and doom. It contrasts completely with my article Return to Ramadi, in the Nov. 27 Weekly Standard, in which I write that the largest city in the province is slowly being reclaimed from al Qaeda. By coincidence, the day my article hit the stands the Times of London published an extensive article coming to the same conclusion as mine. But for the timing, you'd practically think one of us had plagiarized the other.
Why such different conclusions between our articles and the Post's and whom to believe?
It helps to know that the Times writer and I both went to and reported from Ramadi. We didn't summarize classified documents or quote unnamed sources. Linzer and Ricks stayed home and reported from Washington, relying entirely on an unpublished document in addition to quoting a "senior intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity." I have recently ripped the media's "Baghdad Brigade" for pretending it can cover a country the size of California from a single Iraqi city. What does that say about those who think they can cover Al Anbar from Washington?
All of this illustrates a point I and others have desperately tried to make, that you cannot understand the Anbar if you haven't been there. That's why I went three times to the province and twice to Ramadi itself. It wasn't to attend a beerfest. It may also help explain things that Ricks has a recent book declaring the war a "Fiasco," and hence is already inclined towards a pessimistic view. Top-notch milblogger Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail declares, "Military and intelligence sources that I spoke to who have read the [Devlin] report indicate that they largely agree with [it] . . . but not as presented by the Washington Post." (Emphasis his.)
Alas, as much attention as my article has gotten it's hard to compete with a Post A1 article. Further, as Vietnam's Tet Offensive proved, guerrilla wars are as likely to be decided in the media as on the battlefield. It's looking like Iraq will prove no exception.
(Michael Fumento maintains a hybrid website at Fumento.com with blogs from his last two trips to Al Anbar, photos from all three trips, and two major articles from his trip earlier this year. Especially recommended is "The New Band of Brothers," which contains links to much combat video.)
November 30, 2006
And now for the rest of the story
The Washington Post recently reported the the Anbar province in Iraq is unsalvageable, and cited a classified Marine Corps intelligence report as its source. Bill Roggio, a war correspondent who is preparing to return to Iraq, calls foul and proceeds to disassemble the WaPo article. Here's how he begins:
The Washington Post has access to segments of the latest intelligence report on Anbar province, and reports the situation in western Iraq is dire. Military and an intelligence sources that I spoke to who have read the report indicate that they largely agree with the most recent assessment of the situation in Anbar in Colonel Devlin's report, but not as presented by the Washington Post. The situation in Anbar province, they say, has not changed much since the release of the last report.
Go read the whole thing. It is an excellent study in how the truth can be distorted -- even by someone who is not trying to. Whether or not that is the case here, I'll leave to you to decide.
Also refer to this post about Michael Fumento's experiences in Anbar as an embed with the 1st BCT. It is considerably more optomistic than the WaPo article.
November 17, 2006
The embed problem
Michael Fumento, who has been embedded three times with military units in Iraq, maintains that the dearth of embeds in Iraq is not the fault of our military. Here's how he begins:
The number of embeds in Iraq is so small it’s grotesque. During the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, more than 600 reporters, TV crews and photographers were embedded with Coalition Forces, according to the Associated Press. Last year, during the vote to ratify a new constitution, there were 114. At the end of September, there only 11 and one of them was me.
As I’ve observed elsewhere, embeds offer a unique perspective on the war in that they’re actually viewing it. Contrast this with the MSM Baghdad press corps that bizarrely believes it can cover a country of 26 million people and the size of California from hotels in a single city using stringers, phone calls, and email. In other words, they may as well be back in the States except for their desire to have the coveted title of “War Correspondent.” Vietnam gave us the first war in virtually real time; Iraq is giving us the first virtual war.
Further, it speaks volumes that war critics like screenwriter-director Nora Ephron has vilified embeds, insisting they’re “too close” to the war. And reporters in New York covering the WTC attacks should have been in Iowa, right? What Ephron is really saying is that the American public has no right to know what’s happening in Iraq. Embeds, through their actions, declare the opposite.
But what accounts for this dearth of embeds?
Go read the rest.
November 15, 2006
An Al-Qaeda victory?
Harold C. Hutchison at StrategyPage points out that Al-Qaeda won the American elections this month. I'm inclined to agree.
One of the immediate things known in the wake of the American November elections is that the media strategy employed by al Qaeda has succeeded. Having failed to disrupt three elections in Iraq, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups fought to hang in there, and shifted their aim to American newsrooms.
Go read the rest.
November 14, 2006
It is amazing how radically things have changed in Afghanistan between 6 November and 8 November. Texas Rainmaker points out the details.
November 04, 2006
Sue the New York Times
Austin Bay, at the Houston Chronicle website, points out the tremendous damage done by the NYT when it exposed the secret SWIFT program in June.
The SWIFT program was a meticulously constructed multinational covert operation that had the cooperation of Belgium, Spain and other European nations.
The Times' revelation not only damaged the SWIFT program as an individual effort, but damaged the "inside diplomacy" that organized it and ensured its legality.
I've discussed the SWIFT debacle with my contacts in the U.S. intelligence and defense technology communities, and asked for an estimate of what it would cost to reconstitute a SWIFT-type intel program. Gut estimates range from $400 million to $500 million — a hefty quantity of taxpayer cash.
Maybe the people of the United States of America should sue the New York Times to recoup the losses incurred as a result of that newspaper's irresponsible and treasonous act.
November 03, 2006
New York Times admits to WMD in Iraq!
The Times has radically changed its position on the presence of a mature nuclear program in Iraq.
Of course, they're spinning this to hurt Bush, yet the New York Times now maintains that Iraq's nuclear program was very close to developing actual weapons.
The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.
These are the same documents that the NYT has repeated disparaged as not being authentic.
What a bunch of hypocrites.
Ed Morrissey has more.
That appears to indicate that by invading in 2003, we followed the best intelligence of the UN inspectors to head off the development of an Iraqi nuke. This intelligence put Saddam far ahead of Iran in the nuclear pursuit, and made it much more urgent to take some definitive action against Saddam before he could build and deploy it. And bear in mind that this intelligence came from the UN, and not from the United States. The inspectors themselves developed it, and they meant to keep it secret. The FMSO site blew their cover, and they're very unhappy about it.
What other highlights has the Times now authenticated? We have plenty:
* 2001 IIS memo directing its agents to test mass grave sites in southern Iraq for radiation, and to use "trusted news agencies" to leak rumors about the lack of credibility of Coalition reporting on the subject. They specify CNN.
* The Blessed July operation, in which Saddam's sons planned a series of assassinations in London, Iran, and southern Iraq
* Saddam's early contacts with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda from 1994-7
* UNMOVIC knew of a renewed effort to make ricin from castor beans in 2002, but never reported it
* The continued development of delivery mechanisms for biological and chemical weapons by the notorious "Dr. Germ" in 2002
Actually, we have much, much more. All of these documents underscore the threat posed by Saddam Hussein and show that his regime continued their work on banned weapons programs. We have made this case over and over again, but some people refused to believe the documents were genuine. Now we have no less of an authority than the New York Times to verify that the IIS documentation is not only genuine, but presents a powerful argument for the military action to remove Saddam from power.
The Times wanted readers to cluck their tongues at the Bush administration for releasing the documents, although Congress actually did that. However, the net result should be a complete re-evaluation of the threat Saddam posed by critics of the war. Let's see if the Times figures this out for themselves.
Let's carry this one step further:
With this newly affirmed evidence that Iraq was a year away from a nuclear weapons capability in 2003 we would be facing a nuclear-armed, Saddam-led Iraq in 2006 had we not invaded the country and removed him from power.
Certainly not a prospect any sane, peace-loving person would seek out.
UPDATE: Back in April, Fritz Umbach at Salon.com was quick to doubt the provenance of the very same set of documents and mentioned my belief that they were genuine:
American Geek crowed that the Iraqi documents reveal "Saddam did … in fact, have important dealings with al-Qaeda" and lamented that "New York Times, the AP, and their ilk" have not reported such "facts."
Well, I need lament about that no longer -- since the New York Times is now regarding those documents as factual. It's a pity that they only now assert the factual nature of the documents in an attempt to slam the Bush administration.
Mixed news from Iraq
Gateway Pundit provides some good-but-unreported news about Iraq.
Then he makes and cites comments on the latest NYT leak of classified information (do they have no shame?):
. . . the New York Times appears to have doctored the slide referred to in this brilliantly well-timed bit of election propaganda by removing the classification markings which are invariably found at the top and bottom of these slide (even when they are unclassified — and this one was classified, as Central Command has already confirmed). I want to know whether there is any level of national secret the Times is not willing to betray for the political advantage of its pet causes. And I would like to know what else they may have doctored on the slide.
And while we're at it, I would love to understand why the law doesn't prohibit the propagation of strategic national secrets in wartime — which has always been understood as treason.
Read the whole thing.
October 28, 2006
Journalism in Iraq
Michael Fumento, currently on his third embed tour in Iraq, writes about typical war correspondence in Iraq -- and how it widely deviates from his experiences there. Here's how he starts:
Would you trust a Hurricane Katrina report datelined “direct from Detroit”? Or coverage of the World Trade Center attack from Chicago? Why then should we believe a Time Magazine investigation of the Haditha killings that was reported not from Haditha but from Baghdad? Or a Los Angeles Times article on a purported Fallujah-like attack on Ramadi reported by four journalists in Baghdad and one in Washington? Yet we do, essentially because we have no choice. A war in a country the size of California is essentially covered from a single city. Plug the name of Iraqi cities other than Baghdad into Google News and you’ll find that time and again the reporters are in Iraq’s capital, nowhere near the scene. Capt. David Gramling, public affairs officer for the unit I’m currently embedded with, puts it nicely: “I think it would be pretty hard to report on Baghdad from out here.” Welcome to the not-so-brave new world of Iraq war correspondence.
Go read the rest.
October 24, 2006
Michael Yon, over at The Weekly Standard, discusses an alarming development in Iraq.
My experiences with the U.S. military as a soldier and then as a writer and photographer covering soldiers have been overwhelmingly positive, and I feel no shame in saying I am biased in favor of our troops. Even worse, I feel no shame in calling a terrorist a terrorist. I've seen their deeds and tasted air filled with burning human flesh from their bombs. I've seen terrorists kill children while our people risk their lives to save civilians again, and again, and again. I feel no shame in saying I hope that Afghanistan and Iraq "succeed," whatever that means. For that very reason, it would be a dereliction to remain silent about our military's ineptitude in handling the press. The subject is worthy of a book, but can't wait that long, lest we grow accustomed to a subtle but all too real censorship of the U.S. war effort.
I hope this is not true, but if it is, we must nip it in the bud. This is NOT why we fight.
Yon goes on to talk about the critical need for our side of the story to be reported. (Emphasis added.)
There's little comfort in the supposition that this mess might be more the result of incompetence than policy. After all, what does it matter whether the helicopter crashed because it ran out of gas or because someone didn't tighten the bolts on a rotor? Our military enjoys supremely onesided air and weapons superiority, but this is practically irrelevant in a counterinsurgency where the centers of gravity for the battle are public opinion in Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, and at home. The enemy trumps our jets and satellites with supremely onesided media superiority. The lowest level terror cells have their own film crews. While al Sahab hums along winning battle after propaganda battle, the bungling gatekeepers at the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) reciprocate with ridiculous and costly obstacles that deter embedded media covering our forces, ultimately causing harm to only one side: ours. And they get away with it because in any conflict that can be portrayed as U.S. military versus media, the public reflexively sides with the military.
Read the whole thing. Yon's is a rare perspective -- one that needs to be shared. Highly recommended.
October 21, 2006
Glenn Reynolds, over at Instapundit, showed his uncanny insight the other day.
Knowing more history than most journalists is no great feat.
October 19, 2006
Trudeau lives it
OPFOR discusses cartoonist Gary Trudeau's personal ethics.
After enduring 3 years of stupid protestor tricks, we've learned that "I support the troops, not the war" is an empty, used carsalesman's line. SMASH did a thorough job proving that on a street corner outside Walter Reed Army Hospital.
Yet while Code Pink and friends were outside the hospital engaged in their most inappropriate protest, Gary Trudeau -who has made his anti-war slant clear through his comic strip) was inside and bedside. Trudeau checked his politics at the door, and made himself 100% available to our wounded warriors, signing autographs, chatting with soldiers, and listening to their stories.
THAT, ladies and gentleman, is "supporting the troops, not the war." I will be reading The Sandbox daily, simply out of support for Gary Trudeau and his efforts on behalf of our soldiers. I encourage you all to do the same.
Hats off to you, Mr. Trudeau. I hope others can learn from your example.
October 04, 2006
Callimachus, a journalist by trade, has some pertinent things to say about the agenda-driven reporting that is so prevalent in today's media.
But you get not a whiff of that in the Bush story. All you'd get is Bush's remark and the political response from Democrats. Nobody even had the guts to ask, "well, is their rhetoric essentially the same as the enemy's propaganda?" The leading Democrats certainly aren't going to bring that up on their own. The similarity is rather embarrassing to them, I'd think.
But until you actually ask that question, and show the comparison, you won't know whether Bush is making an accurate comparison or not.
Go read the whole thing.
September 15, 2006
Thomas Sowell weighs in about the New York Times article that nastily (and erroneously) smears four conservative think tanks. And he adds some thoughts that should make all of us stop and examine the greater issue that he refers to.
The self-infatuated idea nobody could disagree with you for honest and informed reasons is far more dangerous than possible influence from donors' money. Far more is involved here than cheap-shot journalism. It is the audience for such journalism that is the real concern.
Our whole educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, is increasingly turning out people who have never heard enough conflicting arguments to develop the skills and discipline required to produce a coherent analysis, based on logic and evidence.
Read the whole thing. Then think about it.
September 04, 2006
Melanie Phillips voices her concerns about the apparent culpability of the global media in demonizing Israel and glorifying the Hezbollah terrorists who attacked them. Here's how she begins:
Early in the recent Lebanon war, the blogosphere revealed the fabrication of images by Reuters, whose reputation is now in shreds among those dwindling numbers in the western mainstream media who still acknowledge there is such a thing as the truth. Since then, the nature and scale of the various frauds perpetrated by the media during that war put those doctored Reuters pictures into the shade. The western media are no longer merely producing questionable professional practices in reporting a war. They are now active participants in it --and on the wrong side of history.
Read the whole thing. She provides links and citations to back up her statements. I found it compelling because, after loads of independent research on my part, it fits so well into my thoughts on the subject. I do think that the media has backed off from slamming Israel (somewhat) since hostilities have ended.
September 03, 2006
Lorie Byrd has an op-ed up at Townhall about the news media missing the story. Here's her concluding paragraph:
A famous politician speaking to Matt Lauer on the Today Show once said of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, â€śthe great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracyâ€¦â€ť She was wrong about that one. DNA proved that the â€śgreat storyâ€ť there really was about a President who was reckless enough to have an affair with an intern in the Oval Office and then use his power to orchestrate a coverup. She did have a point, though. Sometimes the â€śgreat storyâ€ť isnâ€™t the one the media is telling, Sometimes it is just as interesting to find out how a story, especially one revealed to be incorrect in so many ways, came to be believed by so many journalists and so widely reported in the first place.
Go read how she arrived at that conclusion.
August 18, 2006
Jeff Jacoby discusses Mike Wallace's fawning interview of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And he's taking no prisoners. Here's how he starts:
NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN flew to Munich to see Adolf Hitler, Walter Winchell observed in 1938, ``because you can't lick a man's boots over the phone." Why did Mike Wallace fly to Tehran?
Go read the rest.
August 15, 2006
As a reporter who worked for Reuters for three years, Phillip Klein discusses bias and errors in this global news agency.
Though I don't have specific knowledge of what went on at the photo desk when Reuters ran the altered images, my three plus years of experience at the wire service leads me to believe the following: there is an institutional bias against Israel at Reuters, but the photo desk did not knowingly run doctored images.
Go read the whole thing.
August 14, 2006
Betsy Newmark provides a good compilation of links concerning the staging of photographs and video in Lebanon. It's pretty damning stuff.
August 07, 2006
Terrorism and the Media
Rachel Neuwirth has a provocative op-ed up about how the Media enables terrorism. Here's how she begins:
A major segment of the global media is behaving in a manner that makes terrorism and mass killings more likely rather than less likely. They enable and encourage terrorist slaughter of innocents by supplying providing a propaganda bonanza for the terrorist cause. Without the gain, there would be less incentive for the horrific behavior.
This is true now with Israeli defense measures against Hezbolla terrorism, and has been true for many years, especially during the long Arab-Israeli conflict. Not enough attention has been paid to media manipulation. It is long overdue that this be exposed and the media be confronted and held accountable.
Read the rest.
July 28, 2006
Don't believe everything you see on CNN
CNNâ€™s senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is backpedaling from his story last week about Israel bombing civilians in Lebanon.
Challenged by Reliable Sources host (and Washington Post media writer) Howard Kurtz on Sunday, Robertson suggested Hezbollah has â€śvery, very sophisticated and slick media operations,â€ť that the terrorist group â€śhad control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn't have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath,â€ť and he even contradicted Hezbollahâ€™s self-serving spin: â€śThere's no doubt that the [Israeli] bombs there are hitting Hezbollah facilities.â€ť
Why didn't Robertson say that in his report? Why isn't CNN broadcasting a retraction/correction to that story?
[Hat tip to Betsy's Page.]
CNN: Soft on terrorism?
Mary Katherine Ham has a thought-provoking post up at the Townhall Blog about CNN's apparent softness about Hezbollah and terrorism.
Look, I do youth ministry with a group called Young Life. It's a great Christian group that brings spirit[u]al guidance, mature friendship, and quite often, Cheetos and pizza and trips to Six Flags, to high-school kids all over the nation.
Great organization, right? Well, imagine if a good segment of us Young Life leaders was more than pleased to strap plastic explosives around our waists in the name of Jesus and kill whichever high-school kids didn't accept Christ into their lives. What if our stated mission were to support the Christian kids with pizza and Cheetos and to detonate anyone who believed differently than us? What if we encouraged other Christian high-school kids to do the same to their friends who weren't Christians?
Kinda puts things in proper perspective, doesn't she? The only problem I see with her arguments is that I do NOT see terrorist leaders strapping the explosives on themselves -- they strap them on others.
Go read the rest.
July 27, 2006
PR advice for Israel
PR specialist and military historian, Ned Barnett, gives Israel some advice on good public relations. He concludes with this:
Following this approach, Israel would have at least a fighting chance of winning the PR war. As it stands now, by playing word-games with the anti-Israeli, left-leaning mainstream media, and by putting what seems to be a very foreign face on the news by using heavily-accented spokesmen who just donâ€™t â€ślookâ€ť American, Israel may be winning the war against Hezbollah, but they are increasingly losing the war for American support. The major US media are no friends of Israel. If that plucky country is to overcome this built-in deficit, theyâ€™ve got to fight back using tools and techniques that work, even in the face of opposition by the American media.
Go read the rest . . .
July 14, 2006
Thomas Sowell has an op-ed up about how the media rushes to judgement when it comes to our troops.
The same newspapers and television news programs that are constantly reminding us that some people under indictment "are innocent until proven guilty" are nevertheless hyping the story of American troops accused of rape in Iraq, day in and day out, even though these troops have yet to be proven guilty of anything.
Go read the rest.
July 02, 2006
The New York Times boogie
Peggy Noonan, over at OpinionJournal, has an excellent essay about The New York Times' slow-but-sure march into decay.
It's in the extended entry.
Once the New York Times was extremely important, and often destructive. Now it is less important, and often destructive. This is not a change for the worse.
The Times is important still because of its influence on other parts of the media: Other journalists, knowing the great resources of the Times, respecting its air of professionalism (which is sometimes not an air but the thing itself), key their own decisions on news coverage to the front and opinion pages. If you're a blogger or a talk-show lion, you key some of the things you talk about to the Times. It's still important.
But it's not what it was. Once it was such a force that it controlled the intellectual climate. Now it's just part of it. Seventy years ago its depiction of Stalin's benignity left a generation confused, or confounded. Fifty years ago, when the Times became enamored of a romantic young revolutionary named Fidel, the American decision-making establishment believed what it read and observed in comfort as an angry communist dictatorship was established 90 miles off our shore. The Times' wrongheadedness had huge implications for American statecraft.
The Times is still in many respects an extraordinary daily achievement. The sheer size and scope of its efforts is impressive--the Sunday paper is big as a book every week, and costs a lot less.
But it is not what it was and will never be again. It was hurt by its own limits--a paper of and from an island off the continent, awkward in its relationship with and understanding of the continent. It was and is hurt by its longtime and predictable liberalism. Predictable isn't fun. It doesn't make you want to get up in the morning, tear the paper off the mat and open it with a hungry snap. It was hurt by technology--it lost its share of what was, essentially, a monopoly. And it's been hurt by its own scandals and misjudgments. The Times rarely seems driven by an agenda to get the news first, fast and clear; to get the story and let the chips fall. It often seems driven by a search for information that might support its suppositions. Which, again, gets boring. The Times never knows what's becoming a huge national issue. It's always surprised by what Americans are thinking.
In a way the modern Times is playing to a base, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and the redoubts of the Upper West Side throughout America: affluent urban neighborhoods and suburbs. The paper plays not to a region but a class.
But one senses the people who run the Times now are not so much living as re-enacting. They're lost on the big new playing field of American media, and they're reenacting their great moments--the Pentagon papers, the Watergate days. They're locked in a pose: We speak truth to (bad Republican) power. Frank Rich is running around with his antiwar screeds as if it's 1968 and he's an idealist with a beard, as opposed to what he is, a guy who if he pierced his ears gravy would come out.
This is the imagery that comes to you when you ponder the Times. It's the imagery that comes unbidden when you ponder the national security stories they've been doing. They're all re-enacting. They're acting out their own private drama in which they bravely stand up to a secretive and all-powerful American government.
I think it's personal drama in part because there's no common sense in it. Common sense tells you that when the actual physical safety of Americans is threatened by extremists who've declared a holy war, and when those extremists have, or can get, terrible weapons that can kill thousands or tens of thousands or more, and when the American government is trying to keep them from doing what they'd like to do, which, again, is kill--then you'd think twice, thrice, 10 times before you tell the world exactly how the government is trying, in its own bumbling way, which is how governments do things, to keep innocent people safe and bad guys on the run.
It is kind of crazy that the Times would do two stories that expose, and presumably hinder, the government's efforts. But then it strikes me as crazy that every paper that has reported the latest story--that would include The Wall Street Journal--would do so. Based on the evidence that has become public so far, the Journal, like the Times, and the Los Angeles Times, seems to me to have made the wrong call. But to me it is the New York Times, of all papers involved, that has most forgotten the mission. The mission is to get the story, break through the forest to get to a clear space called news, and also be a citizen. It's not to be a certain kind of citizen, and insist everyone else be that kind of citizen, and also now and then break a story.
Forgetting the mission is a problem endemic in newsrooms now. It's why a lot of them do less journalism than politics. When you've forgotten the mission you spend your days talking about, say, diversity in the newsroom. You become distracted by tertiary issues. (Too bad. The news doesn't care the color or sex of the person who finds it and reports it.) You become not journalistic and now and then political, but political and now and then journalistic.
It's sad. Though I guess if you're the Times you take comfort in the fact that even though you're not as important as you used to be, you're just as destructive as ever.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
June 30, 2006
How To Deal With Good News From Iraq
StrategyPage has an interesting article outlining what may be the reason for the negative news that is coming from Iraq -- despite all of the good things that are going on over there.
June 26, 2006: One of the more interesting types of stories exchanged by Iraq veterans is how their embedded reporters get screwed by their editors. The basic problem is that reporters tend to get close to the troops they are embedded with, and the troops form a good sense of what kind of story is being written. But then, when the story appears, it often has no connection with what actually happened, other than the names of the reporter and the soldiers or marines. The troops get curious about how this can be. Reporters have learned to dread inquiring emails from the troops they were recently embedded with. Sometimes the reporters are still embedded when some of their reporting appears in print or on the air. The troops note the discrepancies and ask questions. The answer to all these queries is simple. The reality of Iraq is too positive for the editors back home. Good news doesn't sell. The reporting has to be darkened a bit and a negative spin added. The troops tend to shrug their shoulders, and shake their heads. There's always the "alternative media" (blogs and web based stuff in general), and occasional accurate reporting in some mainstream outlets. But, in general, it's as if there were two worlds; the real one the troops live in, and a more "media friendly" one created by editors back home.
It certainly fits the profile . . .
June 29, 2006
Byron York talks to Thomas Kean, a co-chairman of the September 11 Commission, about the intelligence program that the New York Times deep-sixed when they betrayed America by revealing its details.
Thomas Kean, the co-chairman of the September 11 Commission, was briefed several weeks ago about the Treasury Departmentâ€™s terrorist-finance program, and after the session, Kean says, â€śI came away with the idea that this was a good program, one that was legal, one that was not violating anybodyâ€™s civil libertiesâ€¦and something the U.S. government should be doing to make us safer.â€ť
Kean tells National Review Online that the New York Timesâ€™s decision to expose the terrorist finance effort â€” Kean called Times executive editor Bill Keller in an attempt to persuade him not to publish â€” has done terrible damage to the program. â€śI think itâ€™s over,â€ť Kean says. â€śTerrorists read the newspapers. Once the program became known, then obviously the terrorists were not going to use these methods any more.â€ť
I guess the NYT no longer considers integrity or patriotism to be important.
June 28, 2006
Abuse of confidence
Austin Bay does a good job of outlining why the
A lot of what passes for reporting and analysis in Washington and New York is merely passing on government and academic gossip. Thatâ€™s why the leap to leaks is but a nudge and a puddle jump. The government officials and employees participate; some of them are legitimate whistle blowers, but folks, those are rare and when they occur they are Pulitzer material. Most of the game is simply incestuous Beltway conversation and the rapacious media demand for a â€śheadline.â€ť
But some headlines hurtâ€“ they damage our governmentâ€™s Job One: national security. Perhaps the Timesâ€™ editors donâ€™t believe we are engaged in a global counter-terror war against Islamo-fascism. We are. At one time there was hole in south Manhattan they could not ignore.
Read the whole thing.
June 27, 2006
Working for the enemy
Andrew McCarthy, formerly a federal prosecutor and currently a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, has an op-ed up at NRO that explains how the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times knowingly revealed a classified program for no good reason. Unless you consider undermining our national security a good reason.
It was in view of the TFTPâ€™s [Terrorist Finance Tracking Program -- ed.] palpable value in protecting American lives, its obvious legal propriety, and the plain fact that it was being responsibly conducted that the administration pleaded with the newspapers not to reveal it after government officials despicably leaked it. Exposing the program would tell the public nothing about official misconduct. It would accomplish only the educating of al Qaeda â€” the nationâ€™s enemy in an ongoing war; an enemy well-known to be feverishly plotting new, massive attacks â€” about how better to evade our defenses. About how better to kill us.
Appealing to the patriotism of these newspapers proved about as promising as appealing to the humanity of the terrorists they so insouciantly edify â€” the same monsters who, as we saw again only a few days ago with the torture murder of two American soldiers, continue to define depravity down.
The newspapers, of course, said no.
It disgusts me to see U.S. newspapers aiding and abetting terrorism like this.
June 23, 2006
Symbiotes: Terrorism and the News Media
James Pinkerton has a provocative article up at Newsday describing research results indicating that news coverage of terrorism leads to a win-win situation for the news media and terrorists.
But the problem raised by Frey and Rohner is the same problem that many observers have intuited all along: In portraying violence, especially terror violence, the media are unwittingly - or maybe wittingly - encouraging such violence.
So we are reminded of that old line from the "Pogo" comic strip: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
Go read the whole thing. This guy hit it right on the head.
June 22, 2006
Error of omission
Frank Schaeffer has an editorial up at The L.A. Times about the dearth of reporting about the war heroes in afghanistan and Iraq.
The prominence of stories about military malfeasance, absent stories about military heroism, creates an out-of-whack impression. When it comes to reporting on the military, it's as if we're back in the 1950s, only this time the media prejudice and insensitivity are aimed at military service rather than race. In the 1950s, you rarely saw a story about an African American unless he or she committed a crime or was portrayed with condescension as a victim.
June 20, 2006
I missed this.
Darn it . . .
June 07, 2006
Dichotomy in reporting
Bill Crawford, over at All Things Conservative points out an interesting fact: in reporting mass killings, the word "massacre" is saved for the Marines, but is not used when terrorists are the perpetrators.
The mainstream media seems opposed to using the word "massacre" unless Marines are involved:
Masked gunmen stopped two minivans carrying students north of Baghdad Sunday, ordered the passengers off, separated Shiites from Sunni Arabs, and killed the 21 Shiites â€śin the name of Islam,â€ť a witness said.
I am not a professional journalist, but that sure sounds like a "massacre" to me.
Hmm. He may have a point . . .
June 06, 2006
Marshall Wittmann, as the Bull Moose, has some excellent words to say about the need for balance and impartiality in media reporting of the Haditha incident.
If Americans committed a war crime in Haditha they should be tried and punished. America abides by certain ethical standards, and prosecutes those who violate the rules of war - and that includes those who might cover-up misdeeds.
At the moment, there is a press frenzy over the Haditha incident. It is the duty of the press to uncover wrongdoing and they are doing their jobs. However, it is also their responsibility to avoid a rush to convict before all of the facts are known.
Go read the rest.
[Via Michael Barone's blog.]
June 04, 2006
On Iraq reporting
Command Sargeant Major Jeffrey Mellinger, senior enlisted soldier in Iraq, has a post over at Michael Yon's Frontline Forum wherein he comments on the virtually non-existent reporting about Iraq by the mainstream media.
There is still an insurgency being fought as we build a government and work to provide unity, safety, security and jobs. Havenâ€™t read a story yet on us spraying the date palms. Iraq was once the number one producer of dates. We are working aerial spraying to rebuild the crops. Whereâ€™s the story? Oh, sorry. Itâ€™s not got any sex or blood in it. Letâ€™s see. How about the huge civil affairs festival in Irbil last week? Hmmm. No story in hundreds of kids singing and dancing, adults laughing and competing in sports. And surely no story in learning how to operate and program computers, operate tractors, dump trucks, or repair generators and motors. What was I thinking?
I can certainly understand his sarcasm. I recommend you read his entire post. In fact, you should spend some time reading the othere posts in Michael Yon's Frontline Forum. They show you a glimpse of the struggles in Afghanistan and Iraq that you rarely get to see.
May 30, 2006
Amok time for CNN?
It seems as if CNN needs to get a new translator. Mohammed, over at Iraq The Model, an Iraqi, has pointed out that CNN misrepresented a statement made by Iraq's Foreign Minister. He expresses some doubt about CNN's veracity and/or competence:
Does the CNN have problems with translation from Arabic to English or is it a case of deliberate twisting of facts?
Go read the rest.
May 13, 2006
Tony Snow is sending out email corrections to misleading news articles.
White House sources said Snow, who started on the job Monday and has yet to give his first public press briefing, is determined to aggressively counter what the administration considers unfair assertions in both news and editorials about Bush. At the same time, he is eager to make the notoriously secretive administration more accessible to the press.
He is now engaged in something that I have been trying to influence through this blog -- a more balanced approach to the news. In my blogging efforts, over the last 18 months, I have found myself having to lean much further to the right than I would normally do in order to make up for the extreme left leanings of much of the mainstream news. That seemed to be the only way to find balance.
I realize now that balancing with extremes (both left and right) is too polemic an approach. I am not comfortable with either extreme, and it disturbs me that there are so many folks out there with vein-popping tirades espousing the views of one or the other.
Let's hope Tony Snow can cool the fires of debate enough so that this nation can actually have rational debate once more. We certainly need it.
May 09, 2006
The news media -- particularly the broadcast media, in this case -- has done a pathetic job in reporting on the economy lately.
During the Clinton years, network journalists argued (correctly) that strong economic growth, a rising stock market, low unemployment and low inflation were the benchmark indicators of a good economy. Today, economic growth is a phenomenal 4.8 percent, the stock market has been climbing for three straight years, and inflation and unemployment are both low.
But instead of trumpeting the amazing â€śBush economy,â€ť TV news has downplayed this recent good news while hyping the bad news of rising fuel costs.
So begins this article recently published by the Media Reasearch Center.
I recommend you read the rest.
May 04, 2006
Executive editor Bill Keller, of the New York Times, wrote a letter in rebuttal of the OpinionJournal editorial entitled 'Our Rotten IntelligenCIA". I posted about that article here.
I can understand Mr. Keller's indignation, but I don't think that he made a very good case to refute the OpinionJournal piece. For one thing, he must have an incomplete understanding of security classification standards if he thinks that the President of the United States cannot decide to de-classify any U.S.-classifed data that he wants to. The President is the ultimate authority in national security in this country. Secondly, if a contractor or government/military employee had released the information that Mr. Keller's paper published, he would lose his job and go to jail. Third, the publishing of that data is tantamount to giving it to our enemies. And in war, that is spelled T-R-E-A-S-O-N.
As I said before, I am very disappointed in the poor performance of many news organizations over the last few years -- the New York Times included.
I've reprinted the whole letter in the extended entry.
Striking a Balance
The New York Times executive editor on leaks and partisanship.
BY BILL KELLER
Tuesday, May 2, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Most American newspapers, including yours and mine, try hard to separate the curiosity-driven world of reporters and editors from the ideology-driven world of editorial writers and columnists. The news and opinion departments operate under separate management, and they play by different rules. When editors like me disagree with our counterparts in opinion-land, we tend to keep it to ourselves.
Still, I imagine a lot of people on the news side of this divide were appalled by your editorial attack April 26 on the patriotism and professional integrity of journalists and government officials who talk to them ("Our Rotten IntelligenCIA," Review & Outlook). Since my paper was one of your particular targets, I hope you'll allow me to respond.
Your editorial posits a conspiracy between journalists and "a cabal of partisan bureaucrats" to undermine President Bush by sabotaging the war on terror. Among the suspects swept up and summarily convicted in your argument are: a) government officials who have disclosed secret doings of the government (with the exception of President Bush, whose leak-authorizing somehow escapes your notice); b) reporters and editors at the New York Times and Washington Post for reporting on these secret doings--notably the detention of terror suspects in CIA facilities in Europe and eavesdropping on Americans without warrants; and c) the Pulitzer Board, which honored both of those journalistic exploits last week.
I leave to others, including the court of public opinion, whether the government officials who spoke to reporters about secrets that troubled them were partisan evildoers, as the Journal contends, or conscientious public servants, or something more complicated. Since most of them, including the nearly a dozen who were cited in the first warrantless eavesdropping story, have not been publicly identified, it's hard to know how the Journal is so certain of their motives.
As regards the journalists, the editorial is animated by a couple of assumptions. One is that when journalists write things politicians don't like, the motivation is sure to be political. The other is that when presidents declare that secrecy is in the national interest, reporters should take that at face value. I don't believe either of those things is true, and I find it hard to believe that you do, either.
To believe that aggressive journalism is driven by liberal partisanship requires an awfully selective memory. (Ask Bill Clinton. Ask Congressman Mollohan.) The role of journalism on our side of the news/opinion divide, at least as we aspire to perform it, is not to be advocates for or against any president or any party or any cause. It is not to tell our readers what we think or what they should think, but to provide information and analysis that enables them to make up their own minds. We are sometimes too credulous, sometimes too cynical--in other words, we are human--but I think we get the balance right most of the time, and when we don't we feel an obligation to correct it.
In addition to fair treatment in the news pages, presidents are entitled to a respectful and attentive hearing, particularly when they make claims based on the safety of the country. In the case of the eavesdropping story, President Bush and other figures in his administration were given abundant opportunities to explain why they felt our information should not be published. We considered the evidence presented to us, agonized over it, delayed publication because of it. In the end, their case did not stand up to the evidence our reporters amassed, and we judged that the responsible course was to publish what we knew and let readers assess it themselves. You are welcome to question that judgment, but you have presented no basis for challenging it, let alone for attributing it to bad faith or animus toward the president.
In the final paragraph of your broadside, you include the following disclaimer: "We've been clear all along that we don't like leak prosecutions, especially when they involve harassing reporters who are just trying to do their job." That's nice to hear, and squares with what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they set out to protect a vibrant, inquisitive press. It's just hard to square with the rest of your editorial.
Mr. Keller is executive editor of the New York Times.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
May 03, 2006
Spying for prizes
Ralph Peters has a good column up about how some self-serving journalism has resulted in harm to this country's security, and the need to keep classified information a secret.
WE face savage enemies who obey no laws, honor no international conventions, treaties or compacts, and who believe they do the will of a vengeful god. Under the circumstances, we need to be able to keep an occasional secret.
April 28, 2006
OpinionJournal has an interesting op-ed discussing the disparity in how the mainstream media is treating leaks of classified data -- depending upon the source.
I am so disappointed in our news media nowadays. This editorial does a good job of calling a spade -- a spade.
It's in the extended entry.
Our Rotten IntelligenCIA
To media partisans, some leaks are more equal than others.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
Fired CIA officer Mary O. McCarthy went on offense Monday, denying through her lawyer that she has done anything wrong. But the agency is standing by its claim that she was dismissed last week because she "knowingly and willfully shared classified intelligence." It has been reported that one of her media contacts was Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, who just won a Pulitzer Prize for her reporting on the so-called "secret" prisons that the CIA allegedly used to house top level al Qaeda detainees in Eastern Europe.
We're as curious as anyone to see how Ms. McCarthy's case unfolds. But this would appear to be only the latest example of the unseemly symbiosis between elements of the press corps and a cabal of partisan bureaucrats at the CIA and elsewhere in the "intelligence community" who have been trying to undermine the Bush Presidency.
The existence of this intelligence insurgency first came to light in a major way with former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who wrote a New York Times op-ed in 2003 questioning the veracity of President Bush's "16 words" about Iraq seeking uranium in Africa. Someone close to the White House had the audacity to point out that Mr. Wilson was an anti-Bush partisan whose only claim to authority on the matter was the result of wifely nepotism. Mr. Wilson has since been thoroughly discredited, including in a bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee. But former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby is still being prosecuted as the result of a media-instigated investigation into the "leak" of Valerie Plame's not-so-secret CIA identity.
There was also Michael Scheuer, a top counter-terrorism analyst who was allowed by the CIA to publish under "Anonymous" a scathing attack on Mr. Bush's strategy to fight terror. There were the many selective election-year leaks of prewar Iraq intelligence fed to the likes of the Times's James Risen, who also won a Pulitzer this year--for helping expose the National Security Agency's anti-al Qaeda surveillance program. And there were the post-election attacks on then-U.N. Ambassador nominee John Bolton, led by intelligence analysts who had worked with him at the State Department.
The case of Ms. McCarthy appears to be as egregious as it gets as a matter of partisan politics. She played a prominent role in the Clinton national security apparatus and public records show she gave $2,000 to John Kerry's Presidential campaign and even more to the Democratic Party. Such is her right. But rather than salute and help implement policy after her candidate lost, she apparently sought to damage the Bush Administration by canoodling with the press.
There is little doubt that the Washington Post story on alleged prisons in Europe has done enormous damage--at a minimum, to our ability to secure future cooperation in the war on terror from countries that don't want their assistance to be exposed. Likewise, the New York Times wiretapping exposé may have ruined one of our most effective anti-al Qaeda surveillance programs. Ms. McCarthy denies being the source of these stories. But somebody inside the intelligence community was.
Leaving partisanship aside, this ought to be deeply troubling to anyone who cares about democratic government. The CIA leakers are arrogating to themselves the right to subvert the policy of a twice-elected Administration. Paul Pillar, another former CIA analyst well known for opposing Mr. Bush while he was at Langley, appears to think this is as it should be. He recently wrote in Foreign Affairs that the intelligence community should be treated like the Federal Reserve and have independent political status. In other words, the intelligence community should be a sort of clerisy accountable to no one.
CIA Director Porter Goss is now facing press criticism for trying to impose some discipline on his agency. But he not only has every right to try to root out insubordination, he has a duty to do so because it undermines the agency's ability to focus on the real enemy. The serious and disturbing question is whether the rot is so deep that it is unfixable, and we ought to start all over and create a new intelligence agency.
The press is also inventing a preposterous double standard that is supposed to help us all distinguish between bad leaks (the Plame name) and virtuous leaks (whatever Ms. McCarthy might have done). Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie has put himself on record as saying Ms. McCarthy should not "come to harm" for helping citizens hold their government accountable. Of the Plame affair, by contrast, the Post's editorial page said her exposure may have been an "egregious abuse of the public trust."
It would appear that the only relevant difference here is whose political ox is being gored, and whether a liberal or conservative journalist was the beneficiary of the leak. That the press sought to hound Robert Novak out of polite society for the Plame disclosure and then rewards Ms. Priest and Mr. Risen with Pulitzers proves the worst that any critic has ever said about media bias.
The deepest damage from these leak frenzies may yet be to the press itself, both in credibility and its ability to do its job. It was the press that unleashed anti-leak search missions aimed at the White House that have seen Judith Miller jailed and may find Ms. Priest and Mr. Risen facing subpoenas. And it was the press that promoted the probe under the rarely used Espionage Act of "neocon" Defense Department employee Lawrence Franklin, only to find that the same law may now be used against its own "whistleblower" sources. Just recently has the press begun to notice that the use of the same Espionage Act to prosecute two pro-Israel lobbyists for repeating classified information isn't much different from prosecuting someone for what the press does every day--except for a far larger audience.
We've been clear all along that we don't like leak prosecutions, especially when they involve harassing reporters who are just trying to do their job. But then that's part of the reason we didn't join Joe Wilson and the New York Times in demanding Karl Rove's head over the Plame disclosure. As for some of our media colleagues, when they stop being honest chroniclers of events and start getting into bed with bureaucrats looking to take down elected political leaders, they shouldn't be surprised if those leaders treat them like the partisans they have become.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
April 07, 2006
On media propensities
Michael Barone has a good article in the Washington Times that points out some glaring double-standards in media reporting.
And why would that be?
Surveys galore have shown that somewhere around 90 percent of the writers, editors and other personnel in the news media are Democrats and only about 10 percent are Republicans. We depend on the news media for information about government and politics, foreign affairs and war, public policy and demographic trends -- for a picture of the world around us. But the news comes from people 90 percent of whom are on one side of the political divide. Doesn't sound like an ideal situation.
Is there a connection? You be the judge.
Saddam's court strategy
Ed Morrissey, who blogs at Captain's Quarters, has an op-ed at the Weekly Standard about Saddam Hussein's attempts to manipulate his trial. And how the American media seems to be fervently cooperating:
Saddam has played his hand well, but he has one advantage that Goering never had--an American media so poorly managed that it easily lends itself to this kind of manipulation. The trial has shown detailed evidence and produced compelling testimony to support the charges against Saddam--Saddam even admitted that he had ordered the executions of 148 residents of Dujail, though only ABC thought this worthy of complete coverage. That confession received only eighteen seconds of coverage at CBS, though that still managed to more than double NBC's paltry 7 seconds.
Eye-opening reading, for sure. Recommended.
April 06, 2006
Just the facts -- please!
Thomas Sowell has an excellent commentary over at Townhall about the shortage of factual information in our media and our classrooms. Here's how he begins:
What is more frightening than any particular policy or ideology is the widespread habit of disregarding facts. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey put it this way: "Demagoguery beats data."
People who urge us to rely on the United Nations, instead of acting "unilaterally," or who urge us to follow other countries in creating a government-run medical care system, often show not the slightest interest in getting facts about the actual track record of either the UN or government-run medical systems.
March 28, 2006
Robert Avrech has a post up about great actors and actresses. He talks about how the really good ones are empty vessels:
Every great actor and actress I have worked with in Hollywood is an empty vessel. Oh, they try and fill that emptiness with celebrity, with vacuous relationships, with absurd leftist politics they can't even begin to comprehend, they go through drug phases, they try Zen, Kabbalah, Dianetics, whatever, but in the end, there is nothing there; and that is why they can take those twelve paces brilliantly, and normal people can only gaze in wonder.
It helps explain why those Hollywood celebrities are always into excess -- usually of the destructive variety.
March 22, 2006
Misreporting Operation Swarmer
Thomas Smith, Jr., over at Townhall has an op-ed about how most of our news organizations mischaracterized Operation Swarmer. Here's how he starts:
The latest criticism of the war in Iraq has become so politically manipulative, so disingenuous, so over-the-top that it is undermining a critical cause that we cannot, for a variety of global security reasons, afford to lose.
Regardless of whether it was to deliberately distort the truth, or just through ignorance, the pathetically poor reporting about this operation has been widespread -- despite the accurate information about it that was supplied by the Pentagon.
March 16, 2006
Reporting of good news
Another old story -- this one in late January -- but still something in my draft archive that I failed to post.
Cybercast News Service has an article about how newscasts have been emphasizing layoffs over new jobs -- even though over 2,000,000 new jobs were created last year.
More than 2 million new jobs were created in 2005, but the broadcast networks instead emphasized such negatives as corporate layoffs and outsourcing, according to a study released Wednesday by a group dedicated to challenging misconceptions in the media about free enterprise.
March 07, 2006
Katrina's myth-ing facts
Noel Sheppard, an economist, business owner, and writer, has an op-ed up at The American Thinker that discusses seven myths about Hurricane Katrina that were perpetuated by, but never subsequently dispelled by, the news media. He uses Popular Mechanics magazine as his resource. Here's an excerpt:
In its March issue, PM took on virtually all of the media myths and misnomers that were so drilled into the citizenry by press representatives that many have become part of the public psyche. Thankfully, its authors made it clear right in the first paragraph that they planned on pulling no punches:
â€śIn the months since the storm, many of the first impressions conveyed by the media have turned out to be mistaken.â€ť
Our national media should be ashamed at their pathetic reporting about Katrina.
It's an interesting read . . .
March 06, 2006
Michael Barone, over at U.S. News mulls over whether or not newspapers should be prosecuted for violating the Espionage Act.
Here's a fascinating issue, and one of great importance for the news business: whether the government should prosecute newspapers for printing classified information and government employees for divulging it. Specifically, should the New York Times be prosecuted for its Dec. 16, 2005, story on the NSA surveillance of communications between suspected al Qaeda operatives abroad and people in the United States?
It's not as straightforward as I'd like to think it is. Recommended.
March 01, 2006
Betsy Newmark is unsympathetic to the situation the press corps have managed to get themselves into.
I have to agree with Betsy . . .
February 24, 2006
Freedom of the press?
Bill Bennett and Alan Dershowitz, unlikely collaborators, have an op-ed up at the Washington Post about the news media's recent failure. Here's an excerpt:
The Boston Globe, speaking for many other outlets, editorialized: "[N]ewspapers ought to refrain from publishing offensive caricatures of Mohammed in the name of the ultimate Enlightenment value: tolerance."
But as for caricatures depicting Jews in the most medievally horrific stereotypes, or Christians as fanatics on any given issue, the mainstream press seems to hold no such value. And in the matter of disclosing classified information in wartime, the press competes for the scoop when it believes the public interest warrants it.
Ed Morrissey, over at Captain's Quarters has more to say about the matter.
Democracy is threatened when the press is not free.
I recommend you read both.
February 22, 2006
'An instinct for the capillary'
Glenn Reynolds has an op-ed up at the Guardian Unlimited that discusses the testicularly-challenged Western Media.
February 17, 2006
Thomas Sowell has an op-ed up at Townhall about how many of our journalists act like spoiled brats:
An off-duty incident in Dick Cheney's private life has been hyped in the media as if it had some real significance for more than a quarter of a billion Americans.
The media want to know when was President Bush informed about this incident? What did the White House press secretary know and when did he know it?
The people who mattered -- doctors and local law enforcement -- were informed immediately about the hunting accident. What was President Bush supposed to do -- other than provide the media with something to print or broadcast?
Mr. Sowell goes on, and makes some solid points. Recommended.
February 16, 2006
Dennis Prager, radio talk show host and author has an op-ed up at Townhall that is less than flattering about the news media.
American news media have suffered in recent years. Thanks to the Internet and talk radio, millions of Americans have ceased relying on The New York Times and CNN for their written and televised news. But it is difficult to recall a greater blow to the credibility of American news media than their near-universal refusal to publish the Mohammed cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper that have brought about worldwide Muslim protests.
This loss of credibility owes to two factors: dishonesty and cowardice.
You should read the rest.
February 15, 2006
A tale of two crises
Thomas Sowell has an opinion piece up over at Townhall that discusses two crises that we are currently facing in America. Here's how he starts:
This nation is facing two crises -- one phony and one real. Both in the media and in politics, the phony crisis is getting virtually all the attention.
You can probably figure out the phony crisis, but the real one is more subtle -- and much more sobering. I've been thinking along these lines for a while now, but Mr. Sowell does a much better job of articulating it than I would have.
February 12, 2006
Laura Ingraham is in Iraq
And I recommend you read her journal for an unvarnished perspective on how things are going there.
February 10, 2006
Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, Washington bureau chief of the German newsweekly Die Zeit has written an op-ed for the Washington Post wherein he discusses the controversy about the Mohammed cartoons, freedom of the press, and intolerance.
When the cartoons were first published in Denmark in September, nobody in Germany took notice. Had our publication been offered the drawings at that point, in all likelihood we would have declined to print them. At least one of them seems to equate Islam with radical Islamism. That is exactly the direction nobody wants the debate about fundamentalism to take -- even though the very nature of a political cartoon is overstatement. We would not have printed the caricature out of a sense of moderation and respect for the Muslim minority in our country. News people make judgments about taste all the time. . .
He brings a viewpoint to the discussion that most Americans are not aware of. It is well worth reading. I recommend it.
February 07, 2006
Reuters has an interesting piece about our military's media struggle against terrorism.
It boils down to the fact that terrorists have "media committees" devoted to using the media as a tool to further their ends. But the U.S. military is constrained by laws preventing the use of propaganda that affects the American citizenry.
I'm not advocating allowing our military to propagandize us, but it seems that terrorists have a lot going for them in terms of free publicity provided by our very own news organizations, doesn't it?
And that is a powerful weapon . . .
February 05, 2006
The future of newspapers
Jack Kelly has an interesting column about the future of newspapers.
January 19, 2006
Embed Margaret Friedenauer
Margaret Friedenauer is a reporter for the Daily News-Miner out of Fairbanks, Alaska. She is currently embedded with the 172nd Stryker Brigade in Iraq. Her blog is Reporting from Iraq, and has some interesting entries.
We were just sitting there, waiting for the explosive guys to come check out and dispose of what the soldiers figured was an IED when the darn thing just blew up.
It's one of my daily reads. I recommend you make it one of yours, as well.
December 21, 2005
Study: media leans left
Independent thinkers have known this for some time, and most people realize that the media leans left but, until now, no one has proven it statistically. And this was done by UCLA, so it is not some partisan hack job.
It's worth a read. If only to validate those feelings about our news reporting that you've had all these years . . .
December 16, 2005
Reporting from Iraq
Margaret Friedenauer, a reporter for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, a local newspaper in Fairbanks, Alaska, has just recently become embedded with the 172nd Stryker Brigade in Iraq. Her blog is called "Reporting from Iraq" and is a good source of information about what it is really like over there.
It may be worth watching . . .
Staying the course
Marine Major Ben Connable has a good article in the
He is realistic about his assessment of the chances, but he is worried about the western media's dangerously false portrayal of Iraq as a quagmire:
For every vividly portrayed suicide bombing, there are hundreds of thousands of people living quiet, if often uncertain, lives. For every depressing story of unrest and instability there is an untold story of potential and hope. The impression of Iraq as an unfathomable quagmire is false and dangerously misleading.
It is this false impression that has led us to a moment of national truth.
It is a good article, and well worth reading.
December 15, 2005
. . . just isn't news worth featuring . . .
Thomas Sowell has an interesting op-ed up about the media's war. Here's a taste:
The doom-sayers claimed that terrorist attacks would make it impossible to hold the elections last January because so many Iraqis would be afraid to go vote. The doom-sayers urged that the elections be postponed.
But a higher percentage of Iraqis voted in that election -- and in a subsequent election -- than the percentage of Americans who voted in last year's Presidential elections.
Utter ignorance of history enables any war with any casualties to be depicted in the media as an unmitigated disaster.
It makes you think. Recommended.
December 02, 2005
Selective reporting No. 6798
A report about a Marine's experience with the unbalanced reporting of our news media. Here's a taste:
. . . the battle of Fallujah was one of the fiercest engagements of the war. During the battle, Bowers found himself sharing a ride with an embedded reporter for the AP. He was asked what he thought of the destruction. Bowers responded that it was "Incredible, overwhelming. But it definitely had to be done." He also stressed that because the enemy had fought so dirty, tough calls had to be made. Later, he saw himself quoted in newspapers around the country to the effect that the destruction was "overwhelming" as if he could not cope.
There really is another side to the stories we hear on the nightly news and read in the daily papers . . .
November 06, 2005
Dorrance Smith has an interesting perspective about our broadcast media's reporting in Iraq. This article is a reprint of his 25 April op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal.
I've reprinted the whole article into the extended entry. It is well worth reading.
The Enemy on Our Airwaves
What is the relationship between al-Jazeera, al Qaeda and America's TV networks?
BY DORRANCE SMITH
Friday, November 4, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST
(Editor's note: Sen. Carl Levin is opposing Mr. Smith's confirmation as assistant secretary of defense for public affairs because of the senator's objections to this article, which appeared in The Wall Street Journal, April 25. A related editorial appears here.)
On April 11, Jeffrey Ake, an American, was taken hostage in Iraq. Video of him in captivity was shown on al-Jazeera on April 13. A short time later six American networks--ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN and MSNBC--aired the same video, a vivid example of the ongoing relationship between terrorists, al-Jazeera and the networks. Last week, al-Jazeera showed video of a helicopter being shot, bursting into flames and trailing smoke as it fell to the ground. It also aired video of the lone survivor being forced to walk on a broken leg and then being shot by the terrorists, one of whom said, "We are applying God's law."
As the war continues, more hostages will be taken and acts of murderous violence committed--leading to more videos for al-Jazeera and the networks. Isn't it time to scrutinize the relationship among al-Jazeera, American networks and the terrorists? What role should the U.S. government be playing?
Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and al Qaeda have a partner in al-Jazeera and, by extension, most networks in the U.S. This partnership is a powerful tool for the terrorists in the war in Iraq. Figures show that 77% of Iraqis cite TV as their main source of information; 15% cite newspapers. Current estimates are that close to 100% of Iraqis have access to satellite TV, 18% to cell phones, and 8% to the Internet. The battle for Iraqi hearts and minds is being fought over satellite TV. It is a battle today that we are losing badly.
The collaboration between the terrorists and al-Jazeera is stronger than ever. While the precise terms of that relationship are virtually unknown, we do know this: al-Jazeera and the terrorists have a working arrangement that extends beyond a modus vivendi. When the terrorists want to broadcast something that helps their cause, they have immediate and reliable access to al-Jazeera. This relationship--in a time of war--raises some important questions:
What does Al-Jazeera promise the terrorist organizations in order to get consistent access to their video?
Does it pay for material?
Is it promised safety and protection if it continues to air unedited tapes? (No Al-Jazeera employee has been killed or taken hostage by the terrorists. When I ran the Iraqi Television Network, seven employees were killed by terrorists.)
Does Al-Jazeera promise the terrorists that it won't reveal their whereabouts and techniques as a quid pro quo for doing business? Is this bargain in the guise of journalism a defensible practice?
While I was in Iraq in 2004, Al-Jazeera was expelled from the country by the Iraqi Governing Council for violating international law. Numerous times they had advance knowledge of military actions against coalition forces. Instead of reporting to the authorities that it had been tipped off, Al-Jazeera would pre-position a crew at the event site and wait for the attack, record it and rush it on air. This happened time after time, to the point where Al-Jazeera was expelled from Iraq. The airing of the Ake video, however, demonstrates that it can still operate on behalf of the terrorists even from outside the country.
Al-Jazeera continues to broadcast because it reportedly receives $100 million a year from the government of Qatar. Without this subsidy it would be off the air, off the Internet and out of business. So, does Qatar's funding of Al-Jazeera constitute state sponsorship of terrorism? As long as Al-Jazeera continues to practice in cahoots with terrorists while we are at war, should the U.S. government maintain normal relations with Qatar? As long as Al-Jazeera continues to aid and abet the enemy, as long as we are fighting a war on the ground and in the airwaves, why are we not fighting back against Al-Jazeera and Qatar, the nation that makes possible the network's existence? Should the U.S. not adopt a hard-line position about doing business with Qatar as long as Al-Jazeera is doing business with terrorists?
In addition to being subsidized by Qatar, Al-Jazeera has very strong partners in the U.S.--ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Video aired by Al-Jazeera ends up on these networks, sometimes within minutes. The terrorists are aware of this access and use it--as in the Ake case--to further their aims. They want to reach the American audience and influence public opinion.
The arrangement between the U.S. networks and Al-Jazeera raises questions of journalistic ethics. Do the U.S. networks know the terms of the relationship that Al-Jazeera has with the terrorists? Do they want to know?
There has been no in-depth reporting about Al-Jazeera in the U.S. and virtually no scrutiny of Qatar and its relationship with the network. Why not? Is it that the American networks don't want to give up their tainted video? And since they all get the same material and all air it at the same time, do they feel a certain safety being in bed together? The cable networks have become addicted to the latest B-roll video. If that video was obtained by means that violated their own standards and practices, would they air it? Would they even know?
What if one of the networks had taken a stand and refused to air the Ake video on the grounds that it was aiding and abetting the enemy, and that from this point forward it would not be a tool of terrorist propaganda? The terrorists know that the airing of such video creates pressure on the government to negotiate a release. It also sends a signal to Americans about the perils of being an American working in Iraq. If the Ake video had never aired in the U.S., the position of the hostage-takers would have been severely impaired. Had it never aired, terrorists would have had no incentive to continue making the tapes.
Is it fanciful to think that network news executives would have the fortitude not to air any video shot by terrorists? They already stop short of airing everything, so why not refuse to touch the stuff altogether? At the very least, is it not reasonable to raise questions about the sources and methods used to obtain this material? The war in Iraq will likely drag on for some time. More lives will be lost and more hostages will be taken and more videos will be made. Now we should engage the terrorists on the airwaves as we do on the ground.
Mr. Smith spent nine months in Iraq as a senior media adviser to Ambassador Paul Bremer
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
November 02, 2005
Michael Rubin, over at National Review Online, has some interesting things to say about Iraq -- and who is qualified to talk about what is going on there. Here's an excerpt:
Washington has always been an arrogant town. Whatever the issue, pundits use the crisis of the day to score partisan points. Sure, there should be accountability for intelligence failures not only about overestimating Iraq's weapons program in 2003, but also for underestimating them in 1991. Nor should policymakers feel comfortable about previous Central Intelligence Agency misanalysis of nuclear programs in India, Pakistan, and Libya. But the Iraqi people should not be sacrificed upon the altar of Bush hatred, Clinton hatred, or Kerry hatred.
I found it a fairly balanced commentary. Recommended.
October 31, 2005
Sarah, at trying to grok is FRUSTRATED. And I can understand why.
But the media can only shape our opinions if we allow it to. And whether we care to admit it or not, sometimes the media gets it right. In the case of Vietnam and now Iraq, however, the media was, and is, wrong!
October 28, 2005
[Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit.]
October 20, 2005
Victory in Iraq
Ralph Peters, in the New York Post talks about the significance of the election in Iraq and how the MSM has woefully misconstrued it. He's taking no prisoners, either:
A startling number of editors and opinion columnists have been wrong about every development in Iraq (and Afghanistan). First, they predicted a bloody, protracted war against Saddam's military. Then they predicted civil war. They insisted that Iraq's first elections would fail amid a bloodbath. Then they declared that Iraq's elected delegates would not be able to agree on a draft constitution. Next, they thundered that Iraq's Sunni Arabs wouldn't vote.
Most recently, the sages of the opinion pages declared that the proposed constitution would be defeated at the polls by the Sunni Arabs. All along they've displayed a breathtaking empathy with the Islamist terrorists who slaughter the innocent, giving Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a pass while attacking our president and mocking the achievements of our troops.
A herd mentality has taken over the editorial boards. Ignoring all evidence to the contrary, columnists write about our inevitable "retreat" from Iraq, declaring that "everyone knows" our policies have no chance of success.
That isn't journalism. It's wishful thinking on the part of those who need Iraq to fail to preserve their credibility.
Recommended reading (requires free registration).
October 19, 2005
Michael Rubin, over at OpinionJournal has an op-ed up about what the Iraqis think about progress in their country. As opposed to what American "opinion makers" say about it.
Here's an excerpt:
The referendum capped a constitutional drafting process over which Western commentators and diplomats had been quick to panic. They misunderstand that with freedom comes politics. The same U.S. senators who debated the "nuclear option" for judicial nominees failed to recognize political brinkmanship among their Iraqi counterparts.
I've reprinted it in it's entirety in the extended entry.
With Freedom Comes Politics
Iraqis are much more optimistic about their country than American opinion makers.
BY MICHAEL RUBIN
Tuesday, October 18, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT
On Oct. 15, Iraqis demonstrated that their desire to determine the future through the ballot box was the rule rather than the exception. Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen; Sunnis, Shiites and Christians--all braved threats of violence to vote. The vast majority voted in favor of the constitution. But whatever their positions, Iraqis considered their decision carefully.
The referendum campaign was active. Dueling commercials and newscasts sought to sway the Iraqi vote. Such is the nature of politics in a country no longer subject to state-controlled media.
Some read the constitution. They voted for or against federalism. Some marked their ballot on the basis of how closely they wished religion to be mixed with government. Others did not read the document but learned about it on television, in newspapers and even by text messaging, the latest medium employed by Iraqi politicians to reach constituents. Security, rather than content, was a determinant for some. They voted "yes" to avoid the chaos of failure and the prolongation of occupation.
The referendum capped a constitutional drafting process over which Western commentators and diplomats had been quick to panic. They misunderstand that with freedom comes politics. The same U.S. senators who debated the "nuclear option" for judicial nominees failed to recognize political brinkmanship among their Iraqi counterparts.
Many U.S. policy makers worry that disgruntled Sunnis may turn to violence if their demands aren't met. But there is no evidence to support the conventional wisdom that insurgent violence is tied to the political process. Insurgents have not put forward any platform. By denying the legitimacy of the state, pan-Islamic rhetoric is a greater affront to Iraqi nationalism than the presence of foreign troops on Iraqi soil. It is no accident that Iraqi Sunnis have started killing foreign jihadists.
Nevertheless, implying violence to be the result of demands not met is an old Middle East game. And in this game, Iraqi factions have played the Western media and policy makers like a fiddle. White House pressure, for example, led U.S. officials to amend the political process in order to augment the Sunni presence in the Constitutional Drafting Commission. Acceding to such demands is not without cost. Because Iraq's Sunni leaders are more Islamist than their Shiite counterparts, the increased Sunni presence eroded the rights of Iraqi women in the constitution's final draft.
Some critics still maintain that the "yes" vote may exacerbate conflict. What is needed is consensus, they say. On Sept. 26, for example, the International Crisis Group released a statement criticizing "a rushed constitutional process [that] has deepened rifts and hardened feelings. Without a strong U.S.-led initiative to assuage Sunni Arab concerns, the constitution is likely to fuel rather than dampen the insurgency." This NGO bemoaned the referendum as little more than an opportunity for Iraqis "to embrace a weak document that lacks consensus."
But consensus is not always possible. Though Sunnis are perhaps 15% of Iraq's population, they believe themselves to be 50%. Any agreement acceding to their inflated sense of power would automatically disenfranchise the remainder of the population. With the collapse of apartheid in 1994, white South Africans had to confront their minority status. Iraqi Sunnis must face the same reality. The process may be painful, but justice, democracy and long-term stability demand it continue.
Even without consensus, the constitution represents the type of social and political compromise lacking through the Arab world. Members of the Constitutional Drafting Commission and Iraqi power brokers spent months debating and canvassing constituents. Any politician living outside the U.S.-controlled Green Zone--Jalal Talabani, Abdul Aziz Hakim and Ahmad Chalabi, for example--had his parlor filled with Iraqis from different cities and of various ethnic and sectarian backgrounds until the early hours of morning. These Iraqi petitioners voiced interests and demands diametrically opposed to each other. Consensus was not always possible, but compromise was. As with the constitution, the nature of compromise is a result ideal to none but fair to all.
The referendum result again demonstrates that American policy- and opinion-makers are more pessimistic than are Iraqis. Part of the problem is that Pentagon officials and journalists alike chart Iraq's success through misguided metrics. Counting car bombs does not demonstrate progress or lack thereof in Iraq. Objective indicators show that Iraqis have confidence that did not exist prior to liberation.
According to an Aug. 16, 2002, commentary in the Guardian--a British newspaper that often opposes U.S. foreign policy--one in six Iraqis had fled their country under Saddam. Millions left because of war, dictatorship and sanctions. Today, several hundred thousand have returned; only the Christians still leave. If Iraq were as chaotic as the media implies, it would export refugees, not resettle them.
Other indicators suggest Iraqis have confidence in their future. The Iraqi dinar, freely traded in international currency markets, is stable.
When people fear for their future, they invest in gold; jewelry and coins can be sewn into clothes and smuggled out of the country. When people feel confident about the future, they buy real estate. Property prices have skyrocketed across Iraq. Decrepit houses in Sadr City, a Shiite slum on the outskirts of Baghdad, can easily cost $45,000. Houses in upper-middle-class districts of Mansour and Karrada can cost more than 20 times that. Restaurant owners spend $50,000 on top-of-the-line generators to keep open despite the frequent blackouts. In September 2005, there were 40 buildings nine stories or higher under construction in the Kurdish city of Sulaymani. Five years ago, there were none. Iraqis would not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on real estate if they weren't confident that the law would protect their investment.
Iraqis now see the fruit of foreign investment. A year ago in Baghdad, Iraqis drank water and soft drinks imported from neighboring countries. Now they drink water bottled in plants scattered across Iraq. When I visited a Baghdad computer shop last spring, my hosts handed me a can of Pepsi. An Arabic banner across the can announced, "The only soft drink manufactured in Iraq." In August, a Coca-Cola executive in Istanbul told me their Baghdad operation is not far behind. Turkish investors in partnership with local Iraqis have built modern hotels in Basra.
Cameras and reporters do not lie, but they do not always give a full perspective. Political brinkmanship devoid of context breeds panic. Beheadings and blood sell copy, but do not accurately reflect Iraq. Political milestones give a glimpse of the often-unreported determination that Iraqis and longtime visitors see daily. Bombings and body bags are tragic. But they do not reflect failure. Rather, they represent the sacrifice that both Iraqis and Americans have made for security and democracy. The referendum, refugee return, real estate and investment show much more accurately--and objectively--Iraq's slow but steady progress.
Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is editor of the Middle East Quarterly.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
October 16, 2005
The mainstream media maintain that there is no negative reporting about Iraq. Conservatives continuously complain that there is a great deal of negative bias in reporting. The Media Research Center, a conservative organization, has completed a study that shows that the media has overwhelmingly negative reporting about Iraq. Here's how the press release begins:
A new study released today by the Media Research Center, TVâ€™s Bad News Brigade, reveals the three commercial network nightly news broadcasts have been overwhelmingly biased in their coverage of Iraq. The MRC analyzed all broadcasts of ABCâ€™s World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, and the CBS Evening News from January 1 through September 30 and found 61 percent of the stories were negative or pessimistic while only 15 percent of the stories were positive or optimistic â€“ a four-to-one ratio. The trend in coverage has also become increasingly negative during 2005, with pessimistic stories rising to nearly three-fourths of all Iraq news by August and September. The MRC will release a study on cable news coverage early next year.
I'm sure that reality falls somewhere in between these extremes. But that still means that the news media are not providing balanced reporting, doesn't it?
October 15, 2005
How do you reconcile this article with the headline:
Iraqi Insurgents Incite Voting Day Violence
when the only paragraph (out of 34) about election day violence in the subsequent article says:
Insurgents attacked five of Baghdad's 1,200 polling stations with shootings and bombs, wounding seven voters, but there were no major attacks reported as U.S. and Iraqi forces clamped down with major security measures around balloting sites.
Five out of 1200 polling sites were attacked (less than 1/2 of a percent), and 7 people of the thousands voting were wounded. Sounds pretty quiet for Iraq . . .
And this is on Fox News, no less . . .
UPDATE: The article was revised and renamed after I posted this. I guess they figured it out . . .
October 14, 2005
Betsy Newmark discusses how the media used to concentrate on substantive reporting. Now they just seem to report poll results:
The pandemic of polling on every single story is lazy journalism. I'm not saying this simply because the numbers have been going against the GOP, but because I think these polls asking people questions that they know little about are worthless and debase the policy debates.
She refers to an op-ed by Tony Blanckley, and then takes it from there. It's a good read.
October 10, 2005
Forging ahead in Iraq
Journalist Jack Kelly, over at Irish Pennants, discusses media reporting on the situation in Iraq.
Americans are becoming aware of how badly journalists mis-reported Hurricane Katrina. The light may soon dawn about reporting from Iraq.
And he's not impressed. Neither am I. It's a good read.
October 08, 2005
Newspaper owner Edward L. Daley, over at The American Thinker, tells it like he sees it. And he's not pulling any punches . . .
As for the Katrina issue, anyone who doesn't think that the "mainstream" media coverage of that disaster was appallingly inaccurate and intentionally sensationalized, especially during its initial phase, needs to set down the crack pipe they're holding and step slowly away. If journalistic objectivity, professionalism, and integrity were hurricanes, the news media wouldn't be able to muster enough wind to jostle Marvin Kalb's hair.
And there's plenty more . . .
October 05, 2005
Jed Babbin, over at American Spectator, has posted a good op-ed about the new brains for Democrats. Here's how he begins:
The anti-war, anti-Bush MSM both here and abroad have reached a state of near-rapture. The president's problems, Tom DeLay's indictment, the diminishing support for the war and the growing (and healthy) fight between fiscal conservatives and big government Republicans has enthused them like nothing since the last helo lifted off from the American embassy in Saigon. They're ready to declare conservatism over. But, like the Washington Post's reports that Rep. Mike Pence's "operation offset" was dead, they will be proven wrong if actions take the place of speeches.
A little-noticed role reversal has occurred in American politics. The MSM are performing the service that Heritage, AEI, Cato, and the Hoover Institution provide for conservatives. The media have filled the political and intellectual vacuum that left the Dems entirely bereft of ideas, able to say nothing other than "no." Today the opposition party to the Republicans is not the Dems but the mainstream media itself. They write, they speak, and the Dems follow.
The rest is worth reading.