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The Flag of the World

-G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

This here blog is a glimpse or two or three at the condition of the 'fortress of our family' through the eyes Timothy Goddard, a Christian writer with an unhealthy interest in politics living in the Puget Sound area.

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Thursday, March 27, 2003


The media needs some sort of special pill
Seriously. This is getting out of hand. Check out this exchange between Brig. General Vincent Brooks and the pack of vultures at Centeral Command in Doha, Qatar. An example question:
A few days ago, Gen. Franks stood here and said this was a platform for truth, not propaganda. To that end, when will you show us pictures of what happens when precision bombs don't go where they're supposed to, when they fail to hit their designated targets, or if they fail to go off at all. And will you also provide us with a running order for the effectiveness of these weapons, that is the numbers that succeed, the numbers that miss, and the ones that don't go off. And if you don't, doesn't that expose you to the charge that this is more propaganda than truth?

In other words, tell us when things to wrong, not when things go right, because that's all we really care about anyway. Please give us pictures that we can use as propaganda to attack this war. Give us pictures of civilians dying. That's all we really want, and if you don't give us things that it is decidedly not in your interest to give us, then you are just propaganda, and nothing more.

This morning I heard a journalist who left Quatar because she was frustrated in the same way Tom Fenton was when he asked this question:
We've been getting terrific snapshots from our embedded correspondents, but we were told we would then get the big picture here from this podium, and instead we've been getting snapshot videos, big generalities, we're on a timeline that doesn't surprise me. Can you give us a little more of the big picture without telling us more than the Iraqis already know? For example, how many trucks are there towards Baghdad? Are there two? Are there multiple?

Her main complaint, along these lines, was that in Gulf War I the CentCom breifings were where you went to get information, but now that there are embedded reporters, it's all old news. Now, that'd be fine, but she apparently expected, like Mr. Fenton, some sort of step by step explanation of US tactics, weaponry, positions and so on. In fact, what it boils down to is professional envy on the parts of non-embedded reporters outside of Iraq. It used to be that they got all to good stuff, but nooo, now all these "embedded" types get all the good stuff, and that's not fair, because they want the good stuff, so the US military is morally obligated to give them the good stuff, or they're big meanie propaganda machines.

What journalists apparently aren't realizing is that the purpose of the military is not to provide them with a good story. The purpose of the military is to win the war, not to tell people about how they are doing it. The job of a journalist is to find out what is happening--unfortunately, most journalists subscribe to the mentality that they are somehow owed something by the rest of the world, and somehow the military ought to take their hand and lead them to all the information. Hey, media--no one owes you anything. The military doesn't have to have embedded reporters, doesn't have to hold press conferences, doesn't have to tell you anything. Of course they're not going to tell you bad news, unless it's bad news about American soldiers. It is not their job to count civilians killed, it is their job to win the war. If you want to know how many civilians are killed, then go count yourself. Meanwhile, the troops have a job to do.

The other root cause, besides a leftist expectation of hand-holding and professional envy, is the desire for bad news. This woman--some radio reporter who's name I've forgotten--was very upset that they were only hearing good news. She was raging about the fact that she wasn't getting enough information, and the anchorman pointed out that journalists never are satisfied with the information, and asked if any problems were actually being caused by this. She went off about how they were only getting the good news, never the bad news or the problems or the tragedies, and came oh-so very close to saying "I don't care about the good news, I just want to hear the bad news." It was remarkably close to honesty, but was dolled up to look like she was just trying to get the news out to the people. Apparently the only news that the people need to hear is bad news. Go figure.
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