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Media Dance Macabre


Tony Blankley has a winner of an article today in which he examines the effect the media's anti-war spin has on our military's morale, effectiveness, and safety. For example, the media are ready and willing to think the worst about the troops, even if the allegations are just that: allegations:

But what further cuts is to listen to media people casually perpetrate blood libel against not just the still-presumed-innocent Marines but against our services more generally. To see the gleam in the eyes of reporters happily cackling on about "other possible incidents" -- about which they know not whether they even exist -- is to be filled with a fury that we have a system of journalism that permits people with such mentalities to poison the minds of the world with their malice.

Of course, of course, if an American soldier, sailor, marine or airman is found by a court martial made up of seasoned officers with a practical understanding of the exigencies of combat to have violated the standards of combat he or she must face American military justice. But in time of war, there is no reason why military censorship should not be enforced to shroud the carrying out of justice from the eager eyes and ears of enemy propagandists -- domestic and foreign.

Pending the implementation of such a policy, journalists should sharply limit their reporting to the bare established facts, preferably reported once on page A 36. (You know, the way they report Democratic Party scandals.)

But in the lunatic asylum which is today's America-at-war journalism, one possibly unfortunate event opens a flood gate of over-reporting, mis-reporting and just plain lying. Nothing is too harsh or too untrue to say about our military by these [fill in the blank].

The media's willingness to think the worst of our troops may be even more damaging than even Tony Blankley thought. According to a US military officer who sent an e-mail to James Taranto at Opinion Journal, journalists are being used and manipulated by insurgents:

I am currently stationed here in Iraq and have been here for the past 11 months; I am an adviser to the Iraqis and meet them on a daily basis. I have been in many locations in the country and am involved on a daily basis together with the Iraqis fighting the insurgency.

The media manipulation by the insurgents is brilliant and extremely effective. The press has become a puppet for the insurgents; the insurgents know exactly what they are doing with these "massacres" (quoted here because the investigation has not been completed, nor have any charges been filed) and the political nightmare they will cause the current administration. Bodies are produced for film, and there is zero fact-checking by the media--the media eat up this "news" like there is no tomorrow. A couple of hundred bucks paid by the insurgents to a few guys/ladies in the town where this "massacre" occurred to make up some bad news and pine for the BBC's or CBS's or whoever's cameras is a nice month's salary for many and money well spent by the insurgency.

All the Arabs (Sunni and Shia), Kurds and Chaldeans I have come to know well here will tell you that Arabs are emotional people who tend to exaggerate. A lot. Experience has shown that "50 insurgents hiding out in XX location" is five, at most 10. "Three hundred dead" at the morgue is at most 40. "A huge cache with WMD" is 45-50 weapons. It is a cultural norm and is accepted over here as a norm. It is reported in the West as fact. With no fact-checking.

When we convoy, all in the town/village know when and where there is a bomb/IED/VBIED that is targeting coalition forces. This is not so true in Baghdad, but in the outlying towns all know. What is the culpability for those people in the village/town? Would the Marines be guilty in the U.S. under the same circumstances?

I do not know whether or not the Marines are guilty. A Marine's job is to "close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver," and I can guarantee its effectiveness. But the insurgents have the ear of the press. Hopefully the politics will be put aside for the investigation and the facts will be told, whatever they may be.

Update: J.R. Dunn writes in The American Thinker about how the insurgents are creating these "massacres" which they then blame on the American military:

The war in Iraq is a low-level insurrection slowly - all too slowly - grinding to a halt. The insurgents have attempted to take and hold ground in cities like Tal Afar and Fallujah, and have failed. They have attempted to stop the electoral process through intimidation, and have failed. They have attempted to split the country through civil war, and have failed. Few tactics remain to them, one of which is to take a page from the Vietnam playbook and work the media, hoping that upheaval in the U.S. itself will win their war for them. And that requires a My Lai.

So they've been trying to arrange one. To create the conditions for a massacre. Ambushing Coalition troops from houses full of helpless, unarmed civilians, hoping that the soldiers would respond with all the firepower at their command, and exposing the resulting carnage to the full glare of the international media. That was the plan at Ishaqi, and it might have worked if the shooter hadn't survived. That was also the plan at Haditha--and somebody walked right into it. Some young men angered beyond rationality at seeing a friend blown in half by an IED, driven by impulses we will never know, stormed the nearest homes to kill not only the lone terrorist (according to the account in Time, there were two AK-47s but only one gunman), but everyone else as well--man, woman, and child.

If more proof is needed, consider the May 30 USA Today story in which Marine Captain Andrew Del Gaudio described coming under machine-gun fire this past April after an IED killed four of his men. As he was about to engage, he saw that the enemy had placed a line of children in front of the gun, with two video cameras ready to film them as they were shot down. Del Gaudio held his fire, and was injured by the next rounds. His troops flanked the machine-gun nest before attacking, and the children survived. (Further testimony along the same lines in offered in the Wall Street Journal's June 6 "Best of the Web Today" by a unnamed officer under the heading "Letter from Iraq".)

Clearly, there is no conceivable way to exaggerate the sheer viciousness of the fanatic Islamist.

And the media need to hold their fire on Haditha until all the facts are in.

Comments (23)

I have simply stopped readi... (Below threshold)

I have simply stopped reading anything by Big Media. I get my information from the Blogisphere and discussions on that topic...

You know that left-Blogsylv... (Below threshold)

You know that left-Blogsylvania hates the "Emmessemm" too. The near-universal distaste for Big Media, I think, is a result of them trying to figure out how to pander to certain interests, rather than just delivering facts. Valid criticisms come from the left and the right in this regard. You don't like their lack of optimistic coverage of Iraq, and believe, for plausible reasons, that it demoralizes the troops (although you'll be hard-pressed to find anything but anecdotes to this effect); and we don't like the fact that people who were dissatisfied for the justification for the invasion were treated like naive hippies in the run-up to the war, when, it turns out, their concerns ought to have been addressed prior to military action, for the good of the troops and the Iraqi people.

But Tony Blankley is a slug. I have to once again plug Kevin Baker's latest in Harper's. Blame the reporters, and not the totally inept Secretary of Defense. Nothing novel or noteworthy there.

He's a pretty sharp guy! th... (Below threshold)

He's a pretty sharp guy! the msm seem to jump on the imagined bad things about our Military and will go to great lengths to excuse or rationalize the enemys cause and outrage. These things are just so obvious if You watch just a sunday morning show.. serfer Your right in that the big media are depressingly one sided in their agenda of making news and not reporting it,not worth watching.

Are You a Kirby or Sinnott surfer?

Another fine post Kim. Furt... (Below threshold)

Another fine post Kim. Further evidence of media bias, not unlike the reporting from English news on Haditha. Again I have to ask - who believes the stuff from the Antique media? I agree with the previous poster - the blogoshere has more timely and accurate info. At least you guys, along with reliable critics (Taranto, i.e) let us know, in general and specifically, who in the media bias reporting is culpable on today's menu. I ask the question - who believes it? - because so many of the left liberal bloga (Kos kids, i.e.) hate the media as much as the conservative leaning blogs. It seems that if we would just quit buying their stuff they might re-tool - after all the exit interviews and polls from their buyers.

serfer62,I agree w... (Below threshold)


I agree with you, I am sick of reading about Iraq on big media. I prefer my news come from blogs. Somehow it seems more accurate.

On that note, I'm looking for more information about the nine severed heads found in Iraq yesterday, which is why I am here.


Yes Jeepers Creepers can We... (Below threshold)

Yes Jeepers Creepers can We get an update already! sorry..

Tom wrote:<blockquote... (Below threshold)

Tom wrote:

To see the gleam in the eyes of reporters happily cackling on about "other possible incidents" -- about which they know not whether they even exist -- is to be filled with a fury that we have a system of journalism that permits people with such mentalities to poison the minds of the world with their malice.

Since Tom is only imagining the cackling and the gleam - i.e. "hallucinations", Tom's anger and angst is not reality based.

Perhaps medication would help -- I see this all the time on this blog and others -- where authors are angry about things that exist only in their imaginations.

The insurgency uses the med... (Below threshold)
Ken Hoop:

The insurgency uses the media? Or perhaps the one claiming is a Bush Adminstration plant. We already are aware that Bush & Co. are paying
taxpayer money to implant good news where none
exists in the Iraqi media-even though the natives
laugh at the ineptness of it all.

Speaking of the natives, yes,I assume pivotal
truth can be found in IRAQI BLOGGERS. And even
those expressing initial approval of the invasion have long since soured on the occupation.

If the troops at Hiditha co... (Below threshold)
Tom Feral:

If the troops at Hiditha commited the crimes that they are accused of, they should and will be court martialed and given very long sentences.

Did you ever watch Hardball... (Below threshold)

Did you ever watch Hardball? Plenty of cackling going on by that spit-shooter.

I don't believe a thing I r... (Below threshold)
Peg C.:

I don't believe a thing I read or hear in the MSM unless and until it's confirmed by the blogs I trust. I filter EVERYTHING.

Lee,Who's Tom? An... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:


Who's Tom? And where did you cut and paste that quote from? It didn't come from this blog.

Talk about "hallucinations"...

Lee,Who's Tom... (Below threshold)

Who's Tom? And where did you cut and paste that quote from? It didn't come from this blog.

Talk about "hallucinations"...

Posted by: Sheik Yur Bouty

Sheik Yur whatever: Tom is the author quoted in the post you're commenting on. Try reading the second paragraph of this post, moron. It's right there in plain english. Is that your second language? Or are you one of those right-wing knee-jerk jerks who comment only to prove how ignorant you are?

get back to us on that, ok? We're all sitting here waiting for you to prove your low IQ, again... or were you just hallucinating also -- it appears to be widespread problem around here. Let us know, ok?

I humbly proclaim Sheik yur... (Below threshold)

I humbly proclaim Sheik yur Bouty as the winner of this afternoon's Roseanna Roseannadana Award.

Having won this once or twice myself, I feel competent in bestowing the honor.

There was close competition... (Below threshold)

There was close competition from Lee, who came in second in the balloting.

Tom ? You mean Tony ... (Below threshold)

Tom ? You mean Tony Blankley ? WTF, read the damn article you're heckling, Lee! Hallucinations indeed.

- MikeB

I guess I'm behind the curv... (Below threshold)
upset old guy:

I guess I'm behind the curve here too. I thought this piece was written by KIM, and she quoted an article by TONY Blankley. Silly me!

Lee just felt it was time t... (Below threshold)

Lee just felt it was time to prove himself an idiot again. It must have been . . . minutes . . .

What's sad is that this sto... (Below threshold)

What's sad is that this story is so much more interesting than the now-going-on-3-year-spin-behind-the-veil-of-objectivity that the media presents us.

3 years into Iraq, how much does an American-via our media-know about what our forces actually face? How much more do we really know about Islam and the Middle East? I can tell you, we know much more that America is a bully, and that it's cool to be 'against' whatever our country does.

Bulls... well, you know : )

lee, it is past time for yo... (Below threshold)

lee, it is past time for you to be humble and acknowledge your (a) inattention to who was writing the piece you were criticizing and (b) apologize to Sheik for being your usual dickhead arrogant self.


"We already are aware that ... (Below threshold)

"We already are aware that Bush & Co. are paying
taxpayer money to implant good news where none
exists in the Iraqi media"

We know that, Ken? How, exactly, do we know? Have you cross checked each of the stories against the remainder of the Iraqi media? And by "plant" you mean create false news, yes? Have you confirmed that the events described in the stories have not taken place? How? For example, a story noted the restoration of passenger train service to Turkey. Can you confirm that this is a plant and that no such train service exists? In the end, Ken, you "know" what you have been told to know, and since you obviously don't trust Bush and company, we all know who tells you to "know" the things you think we know.


These troops have not been ... (Below threshold)

These troops have not been charged yet are being held in the Brig at Camp Pendleton and are always in shackles if not in their individual cells.

We need to ask our Congressmen why these Americana are being treated as criminals when they have yet to be charged.

I am calling my Senator and Congressman tomorrow. I am begging you to do the same. This is a true outrage.

A.D.D def: L.e.e.... (Below threshold)

A.D.D def: L.e.e.






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