June 16, 2006
The Media and Iraq
I read several good posts today regarding the phenomenom of poor reporting in Iraq. I will pull them together and provide a few excerpts.
I get a call (about a month or two ago) from a TV news director who had known what I had done in Iraq. He was hoping I was still there so he could hire me to go out and do what I had done in the past because there was a reserve unit from their area being deployed. But the parent affiliate said: "nope, we don't leave the Fortified Hotel -- ever." So a lot of the employers aren't willing to bear the risk. And that is the structural program that really tilts the war.
Also, and this is probably the most disturbing part, many journalists have not figured out that they're being targeted by the enemy on purpose to help shape the coverage of the war. The insurgents don't want the reporters out and about running around. They're completely satisfied with the "balcony" report and some video shot by a stringer of the daily car bomb. That's the message that the insurgents want to get out. They don't realize that warfare is both the kinetic and non-kinetic. And, therefore, they miss how they're being played by the insurgents. I wish more reporters realized that.
Reporting from the hotel balcony just isn't enough if you want to get the real story. Read the rest of the interview with Johannes to see what the MSM is missing.
The second is from Op-For:
Second, the U.S. mainstream media (MSM) who send reporters to the combat zone do not like to have their people embedded with our troops. They claim that the reporters get “less objective” when they live with the soldiers and marines – they come to see the world through the eyes of the troops. As a consequence, a majority of the reporters stay in hotels in the “Green Zone” and send out native stringers to call in stories to them by cell phone which they later write up and file. No effort is made to verify any of these stories or the credibility of the stringers. The recent serious injuries to Bob Woodruff of ABC and Kimberly Dozier of CBS makes the likelihood of the use of local stringers even higher.
It's not good to see the war through the eyes of American troops; you might understand that this is a war on America through the media. It also shows how easy it is to get an atrocity story into newspapers: just get your local Iraqi stringer a video and some interviewees and the scandal is in motion. The media can't leave the hotel to do any fact checking.
The results, they said, were unequivocal: Coverage caused more attacks, and attacks caused more coverage -- a mutually beneficial spiral of death that they say has increased because of a heightened interest in terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001.
Even if we ignore any Left-ward bias in coverage, the media causes more deaths by their terrorist coverage. This should not be a surprise, since the goal of terrorism is to cause public pressure on the government through media coverage of carnage. It is interesting that the media gains as well, causing a spiral of violence.
There was a time that journalists were allies of the country and of our troops. Today, their objectivity extends to keeping neutrality between liberal values and fascist terrorists.
Update: Strategypage notes that the terrorists know all about manipulating the media:
Other documents stressed the need to manipulate Moslem and Western media. This was to be done by starting rumors of American atrocities, and feeding the media plausible supporting material. Al Qaeda's attitude was that if they could not win in reality, they could at least win imaginary battles via the media.
Powerline's view: "When it comes to Iraq, the news section of the Post has become an anti-war spin machine, and nothing more."
While it should, I doubt that the Iraq War will make it into journalism case studies as a lesson in media failure.