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War Coverage

Josh Manchester has a great piece as TCS about the way wars are covered.

When it comes to ground forces, the American press has a standard template for wartime narratives. Developed in World War II, it has morphed over the years (to the detriment of the perception of our forces) but has remained largely intact. Much of it has reflected the nature of the wars in which the US has become involved.


The Standard Narrative goes something like this: There is a massive deployment of US forces to the far side of the world. This action is more or less just and warranted. The troops charge into battle, sometimes many battles. All the while, there's an understanding everywhere of an end-state - a point at which the war's goals will have been accomplished and then, most importantly, everyone can come home.


Throughout all of this there is a standard typecast character: the American enlisted infantryman. Usually he is portrayed with undercurrents of victimhood (this is one of the innovations in the Standard Narrative since WWII.). We see such images in the recent gaffes of Senator Kerry and Congressman Rangel, in which they respectively questioned the intelligence and alternative employment prospects of military personnel. Running through this undercurrent are a couple of others: a sort of class warfare vibe, in which it is assumed that only the poor do the fighting, and a related guilt vibe, in which it is posited that since the troops are merely pitiable, poor, undereducated, unemployable automatons, the best way to "support" them is to bring them home. This entire panoply of implied images even applies when troops are painted in a semi-heroic light. See Forrest Gump.


There's one more aspect to the Standard Narrative: frequent "horror of war" type memes. These include as many references as possible to PTSD, torture, civilian deaths, and atrocities. These things do happen of course. War is, of course, horrible. But in the standard narrative, they frequently come to dominate, rather than to be portrayed in relationship to their frequency or context.

Josh says the days of the "standard narrative" may be numbered and we are already seeing the effects.
What all of this means is that in many cases it will no longer be cost effective for media outlets to cover US military deployments. The troops will be operating in smaller numbers, more frequently, over long periods of time, in often remote locations. Not only will it be expensive to send Western journalists to such places, but there also won't be much dramatic action for them to find. Furthermore, such deployments will fly far under the radar of the attention span of the imputed audience at home.


The press may adjust by relying more upon local stringers for its reporting. This is a tactic used many, many times in Iraq, though presumably for reasons of security, and not economy of scale. The recent controversy involving the Associated Press and a man named "Captain Jamil Hussein," who seems not to have been a captain of anything, may portend some of the problems that the press will encounter in the future in continuing to use the Standard Narrative.


Comments (18)

Manchester writes:<bl... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Manchester writes:

The recent controversy involving the Associated Press and a man named "Captain Jamil Hussein," who seems not to have been a captain of anything, may portend some of the problems that the press will encounter in the future in continuing to use the Standard Narrative.

I missed the reports where it's been shown that "Captain Jamil Hussein," who seems not to have been a captain of anything, is not a police captain as AP says - does anyone have a link to any official report that Hussein is not a police captain?

I saw a news story where the Iraqi Ministry of Information said that Hussein was not on their list of government-approved spokespeople, but that's all.

In a blog post where questions about the "accuracy of coverage" are raised, this seems like a pretty basic fact-check, and yet Manchester weasels around with a passive voice "suggesting" that it "seems" like he's not a police captain.

I'm sure the fact that Lorie links to this guy shows that Manchester is more than just a partisan hack. For Manchester to have said that he must have a basis. Can anyone help me out with a link or quote where it has been shown that Hussein is not a police captain? Thanks!

"Can anyone help me out wit... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"Can anyone help me out with a link or quote where it has been shown that Hussein is not a police captain? Thanks!"

So, that's the standard for professional news reporters?

Shouldn't the AP be able to prove that Jamil does exist? And that his stories are actually true?

Now Les you know that makes... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Now Les you know that makes too much sense for the moonbats like p'p' (lee lee) to digest. That would blow their reason for posting.

The AP did prove both, Les.... (Below threshold)
Lee:

The AP did prove both, Les. They brought forth other witnesses that confirmed that the report from Husein was accurate, and the AP management stated that they had known Hussein for a long time, had visited him in his office at the police station, that he was in uniform, etc.

So Les the troll is unwilling or unable to back up the claim that Hussein is not a police captain - - can anyone else help out?

Sorry guys, Lee is right. H... (Below threshold)
Frank:

Sorry guys, Lee is right. He is responding to the claim by Manchester,not commenting on the AP itself. He seems to infer that some info has come out about this guy Hussein not being the rank AP says he is. That sends the discussion in another direction.

Back to his question: Is there any basis for this statement by Manchester?

There are too many to list ... (Below threshold)
robert the original:

There are too many to list here.

Here is a transcript of the Iraq MOI Press Conference in which the Iraq government states that Jamil Hussein is not, and has never been, a police officer:

http://michellemalkin.com/archives/006452.htm

It should be noted that another original source, named, has recanted. Further, Mr. Hussein has been the stated source for many similar AP stories over recent months. Three other witnesses, unnamed, are claimed by AP but there is as of yet no bodies or other physical evidence.

Many have sought to cast doubt on this story because Mr. Hussein cannot be produced, despite many efforts to implore AP to provide such proof.

Nothing definitive can be said about this except that the ethereal and ubiquitous Hussein is apparently not a policeman, Captain or otherwise, if indeed he exists at all.

It would be easy for AP to produce this source.

Hey Lee: Another one of tho... (Below threshold)
SShiell:

Hey Lee: Another one of those "fake but accurate" reports?

"The AP did prove both, ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

"The AP did prove both, Les. They brought forth other witnesses that confirmed that the report from Husein was accurate,.."

Unnamed, anonymous 'witnesses' who later recanted? Where are they? Got a link?

"..and the AP management stated that they had known Hussein for a long time, had visited him in his office at the police station, that he was in uniform, "

Which AP mangagement? Got a link?


Fake and inaccurate, Lee's standard.

Hey, as long as it's pro-te... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Hey, as long as it's pro-terrorist news, that's all the proof Lee and the rest of the left need.

Fake police offices and secret (immaginary) witnesses are plenty of proof for the lefty's that is must be real.

Fair enough - I'll produce ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Fair enough - I'll produce a link. Still waiting for a real source (sorry, but Malkin the Mutt isn't a source) who can confirm that Hussein is not a police officer.

The AP response is linked here:

excerpted:

We have not ignored the questions about our work raised by the U.S. military and later, by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. We published those questions and sent AP journalists back to the scene to dig further into what happened and why others might question the initial accounts.

The AP's mission was to get at the facts. What we found were more witnesses who described the attack it in particular detail as well as describing the fear running through the neighborhood.We ran a lengthy story on those findings, as well as the questions, Nov. 28.

Bay questions the existence of police Capt. Jamil Hussein, who was one (but not the only) source to tell us about the burning.

Bay cites a U.S. military officer and an Iraqi official who first said Hussein is not an authorized spokesman and later said he is not on a list of Interior Ministry employees. It's worth noting that such lists are relatively recent creations of the fledgling Iraqi government.

By contrast, Hussein is well-known to the AP. We first met him, in uniform, in a police station, some two years ago. We have talked with him a number of times since then and he has been a reliable source of accurate information on a variety of events in Baghdad.

Ya know, Lee, I did not see... (Below threshold)
Mark L:

Ya know, Lee, I did not see any . . . like names or pictures of the "people" asserting the claim that they saw Hussain "in uniform, in a police station." It is an unsubstantiatied assertion by an organization of questionable veracity.

Using that standard allows one to believe in the existance of Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Great Pumpkin.

I need more than AP's assertion that they have met the gentleman. Otherwise, it is just an example of circular reasoning: "He exists because we assert he exists, and we assert he exists because he exists."

Certainly it should not be hard for AP to produce a photograph of an employee of the Iraqi government -- which is what they claim he is. Especially since his putative employer claims he does not exist.

(sorry, but Malkin the M... (Below threshold)

(sorry, but Malkin the Mutt isn't a source)

Scratch a liberal, find a racist. Happens a LOT.

Lee, it is of course, only ... (Below threshold)
robert the original:

Lee, it is of course, only assumed that those here can read and comprehend.

The link I gave you was a Lt. Dean at CENTCOM and the Iraq MOI. It is a transcription from a real Press Conferece with real people, named, who can be checked with. Malkin was not quoted, but the source is obvious at the link, you just chose to ignore it.

You ask for a source, I give you a source. You say you don't believe the US government or the Iraqi government, I am done with you.

Don't ask for the truth if you can't handle the truth.

"I did not see any . . .... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"I did not see any . . . like names or pictures of the "people" asserting the claim that they saw Hussain "in uniform, in a police station."

The reporter who wrote the original story did.I dont; know his or her name, but its a matter of public record.

"Don't ask for the truth if you can't handle the truth."

The source was Malkin. Show me the same report ANYWHERE else in the universe, where it hasn't been attributed to Malkin, and I might believe it depending on the source. Malkin isn't a source, she's a politcal blogger with an axe to grind. Who knows if the email she claims to have received even came from the reported source? I could hack an email that would fool the likes of Malkin.

"Scratch a liberal, find a racist. Happens a LOT." I was referring to Malkin's looks, I think she a dog, like Coulter. Apparently you look at Malkin and see her race. I don't.

Hmm. Scratch a conservative and find a mistaken idiot. Happens a LOT.

Lee, this from flopping ace... (Below threshold)
robert the original:

Lee, this from flopping aces:

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Associated Press:

On Nov. 24, 2006, your organization published an article by Qais Al-Bashir about six Sunnis being burned alive in the presence of Iraqi Police officers. This news item, which is below, received an enormous amount of coverage internationally.

We at Multi-National Corps - Iraq made it known through MNC-I Press Release Number 20061125-09 and our conversations with your reporters that neither we nor Baghdad Police had any reports of such an incident after investigating it and could find no one to corroborate the story. A couple of hours ago, we learned something else very important. We can tell you definitively that the primary source of this story, police Capt. Jamil Hussein, is not a Baghdad police officer or an MOI employee. We verified this fact with the MOI through the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team.

Also, we definitely know, as we told you several weeks ago through the MNC-I Media Relations cell, that another AP-popular IP spokesman, Lt. Maithem Abdul Razzaq, supposedly of the city�s Yarmouk police station, does not work at that police station and is also not authorized to speak on behalf of the IP. The MOI has supposedly issued a warrant for his questioning.

I know we have informed you that there exists an MOI edict that no one below the level of chief is authorized to be an Iraqi Police spokesperson. An unauthorized IP spokesperson will get fired for talking to the media. While I understand the importance of a news agency to use anonymous and unauthorized sources, it is still incumbent upon them to make sure their facts are straight. Was this information verified by anyone else? If the source providing the information is lying about his name, then he ought not to be represented as an official IP spokesperson and should be listed as an anonymous source.

Unless you have a credible source to corroborate the story of the people being burned alive, we respectfully request that AP issue a retraction, or a correction at a minimum, acknowledging that the source named in the story is not who he claimed he was. MNC-I and MNF-I are always available and willing to verify events and provide as much information as possible when asked.

Very respectfully,
LT Dean

Michael B. Dean
Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
MNC-I Joint Operations Center
Public Affairs Officer


________

Lee, it is now time for you to STFU rather than prove yourself an idiot yet again.

Has it occured to you that you will not see this in the MSM as they take the AP wire, and AP is not likely to produce a piece proving they are full of shit

The source for both is Lt. Dean of CENTCOM and Iraq MOI. Two confirmations and a press release number, this ought to do even for a blithering idiot such as yourself.

EAT MY SHORTS.

robert the original-"ear my... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

robert the original-"ear my--" old "pucker puss" (lee lee) does that on a regular basis (hence the monicker "pucker puss"). lol

I was referring to Malki... (Below threshold)

I was referring to Malkin's looks, I think she a dog, like Coulter.

Nice attempt at a backpedal. But it's garbage, and you know it.

Thanks, Robert.Joh... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Thanks, Robert.

JohnAnnArbor -- I usually refer to Coulter as "dog-face Coulter" and Malkin as "Malkin the Mutt". I find them both to be extremely ugly people, from the inside out.

It appears that you are unable to argue with me on the merits of our relative positions (assuming you have a position other than being a flea on my backside). You can do better than that... or maybe you can't? You, it appears, have a history of seeing racism where it doesn't exists.

Care to explain your obsession with "moonbat raciscm"?




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