BACKGROUND & CHARACTER
JUDGES & COURTS
Bernard Goldberg, renowned author and commentator on media bias (based on his 20+ years as a journalist) once wrote:
“Bias in the media isn’t just about what they cover; it’s also about what they don’t cover. Sherlock Holmes once solved a particularly thorny crime using as his key piece of evidence the dog that didn’t bark. It’s the same with the news media. What they don’t make noise about also tells us a lot about their preconceived notions and their biases.”
Well surely Bernie must be feeling vindicated this day. For if there is ever a perfect example of the silence of the media dogs it is in the story of Tina Richards. I recently wrote here about the mother of a Marine and her efforts to meet with Democrats to urge them to end the war.
Her tactics were not unlike Cindy Sheehan but instead aimed at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whereas Sheehan focused her PR effort on President Bush. I wrote that first article as much to bench mark media reporting as to provide the content. I wanted all to note that Pelosi has her own Sheehan and let’s see were the media goes with it by way of comparison.
The result of my little experiment surprised even me, with my calloused eye towards the state of American journalism. Here is what is going on.
It appears Tina Richards has been released from the big-house after being arrested for her sit-in at the Speaker’s office and is continuing her activism. If you follow the desperately scant media reports on her you can find Richards’ own website.
There she posts her thoughts in writing and video. Currently, Richards is organizing a political action called “Swarm on Congress”. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out that this is basically an assault on the mechanisms of government to call attention to her cause. You might think a planned congressional sit-in by an aggrieved military mother might qualify as news as it did in Sheehan’s case.
How wrong you are!
I used Google News to check for references to Richards swarm (do it yourself “swarm on congress”). As of the night of May 8th, 2007 there are two, just two media reports -neither of them from big-media – about what Tina Richards has organized for the week following Mother’s Day. Cindy Sheehan by comparison went down to the middle of Texas and parked herself in a patch of scrub grass next to a huge ranch and it was world news (even the name “Camp Casey” has entered our common lexicon thanks to media reinforcement). Richards and her supporters will park themselves in the halls and offices of the center of our democracy and the media response is, well….cough….cough.
The difference between Sheehan and Richards? One went after a Republican which pleases the liberal media bias, the other after a Democrat which must be covered up, lest the Democrats look bad. How much more obvious can it be that the American media is now hardly more than the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party?
The US military, the last bastion of creditability in the war, is now the primary target of the media and the enemies of the war. Almost like a plan. Not hatched as a coherent and complete arrangement in some dark, smoke filled room. No conspiracy is alleged. Rather, There is a certain momentum that is a product of groupthink. This confluence of widely-shared perceptions and attitudes has taken on a life of its own, the like-minded feeding off the ideas of others, then amplified in the media.
They smell blood in the water, and turn their attention to the military. Their reasoning is that if they can turn the American People against the military, then the war effort will become unsustainable. But they must be very careful in manipulating the story. They have learned their lesson from Viet Nam. The backlash from attacking the troops directly robbed them of much of their credibility. They will not make that mistake again.
Seize on critics from within
This time the plan is discredit the military from the inside. They do this by seizing on genuine critics, disgruntled retirees, infighting dissidents, and a few dupes and naive people in the military to discredit the organization as a whole. This is where we are right now.
After writing an article in the Armed Forces Journal titled A failure in generalship lambasting the general officer corps for not only failing in Iraq but lying to Congress and the American People many people may think that the author, Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yinling is on the highway to hell with his carrier in the military. If you figured that, I believe that you have figured wrong. It is rooted in popular miss conceptions about what the military is like from an outsider’s point of view, which has been carefully built and manipulated by pop culture and the media for years.
That is not to say that I agree with LTC Yinling. I think that many of his arguments are, quite frankly, bull; but the military is really a very introspective organization. Anyone that has seen an After Action Review of a military operation or training event understands that. They are brutally honest and open. No one is spared. We all understand that respecting thin skins is a recipe for death. The reviews are not personal attacks; they are honest assessments.
LTC Yingling’s arguments are not new. The points in his article have been debated in the Army for many years. It is not a bombshell indictment of the military leaders the media is making it out to be. He used Clausewitz, and other military thinker’s writings and ideas to make his point. Look at the article Toxic Leadership, by Colonel George E Reed. The article, written in 2004, takes on many of the same points that LTC Yingling’s article does, albeit in a more tactful manner.
For me, the article is very stimulating, though very flawed. Through articles like LTC Yingling’s Col. Reed’s the military stays vital and improves thought debate and exchange of ideas.
Instead, let us look at why the media has suddenly picked this story up after it has been debated in the military for years. The media are all in a flutter because they think that they can spin this article as an indictment of the war. They do this by pointing at the generals, and in a sly, almost unperceivable way, the media almost seem to whisper in our ears: “see, the military is bad, they aren’t worthy of our support, they failed, we can’t trust them, we need to get out of Iraq before anyone else dies because of these fascist brutes.” Some few have come right out and said it, but most just allude to it.
The military’s image
The military image for many people is of an environment with no freethinking, and creativity. The image is one of an organization of mindless, strict adherence to illogical and outdated thinking and morals. One of heavy-handed, overbearing, egotistical Neanderthals bent on world domination, violence, and hate. Backwoods rednecks. Unintelligent dead-enders. Look at movies like A Few Good Men, Stripes, Platoon, and Apocalypse Now. This is the image propagated by the pop culture.
You may say: “that may be true for some, but not for me.” I ask you then to think back to when you considered the military. Most men and a few women do this at some point. For some it is just fleeting. For others they study it deeply, but I think most, if not all, men at some point or another have considered joining the military. Why do so few out of so many in this country actually serve? Is it because of the ideas that have been formed from our experiences with American pop culture?
A high percentage of the serving military has a close family member that served or is serving. It is a generational tradition of pride, and a feeling of duty. That is not to say that those that don’t serve are any less of a person for taking a different path; clearly not everyone can serve even if they wanted to. However; if you reflect on it you will find than many of your ideas about the military that are unflattering have probably come from pop culture and the media. The enemies of the war in the media use the pop culture’s long cultivated prejudice of the military to forward their objective against the war.
Over the last year, maybe two, it is increasingly difficult to find not any positive reporting on Iraq and the larger war on terrorism, or any positive stories of the US Military at large. There are some rare exceptions with some local news outlets. Google “Iraq” it and see for yourself. It is even more pervasive in the international media.
Look at the resurrection of the Jessica Lynch, and the Spencer Tillman stories as show trails against of the military in Henry Waxman’s House Committee last week. The message: ‘The military lied, The generals ordered the lies. This in turn promotes the thought: ‘The military is bad.’
There is not need to rehash the continuing assaults by the press and the pentagon officials that leak politically motivated falsehoods about the Marines in Haditha. John Kerry, and John Martha’s attacks on the military are like a drum beat.
How about retired generals like MG Batiste, used willingly, in mock impeachment trails by Democrats; or BG Janis Karpinski, used by the press as a martyr, sacrificed by the military for Abu Grab, testifying to hostile governments about the evil US military.
Refer back to the countless stories about Guantanamo Bay, and false accusations of torture; many in the media choosing to believe accusations of known terrorists over the military, and false stories of Koran desecration causing riots across the Islam World.
Look at the personal attacks on the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General Pace, because he dared voice an opinion on homosexuals. They implied that the general was unfit because he dared have a personal moral judgment; or attacks by retired Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General (Retired) Shalikashvili, on the military’s policy of the so-called ‘Don’t ask don’t tell policy’ of which he oversaw the implementation.
Now the latest insult by Senator Reid (D-NV) that the war is lost and General Petraeus is lying if he says the surge is working.
The press is conducting an information war against the military to discredit it, and by so doing hopes to collapse the remaining support for “Bush’s War”.
All reasonable people understand the absolute critical need to win the war in Iraq. It is helpful, desirable, and needed to debate in good faith as long as the joint objective is winning in Iraq. Without a doubt, the key to winning this war is the will of the American People to continue supporting the fight. Each downtick in the polls for support of the war by the American People lowers the possibility that the military will be able to carry on the war to a victory.
It is not that we lack the capacity. We, in the military, have the will in spades. But we are, in the end, the Military of the American People, and must have their support; not only to fund the war, but also to maintain morale and a strong fighting spirit. This support of the US Military by the American People is the goal that most in the mainstream media hope to undermine. Why they would do this is a topic for a different article. The fact is that they are actively trying to discredit the US Military.
What would happen in the war in Iraq and to the terrorists across the world if our press put as much effort into supporting the war that they do in trying to sabotage it?
Gerd Schroeder is a Major in the United States Army; he has served in Iraq and Afghanistan. His personal views do not represent the views of the US Army or Department of Defense
Scott Lindlaw is an Associated Press reporter who has told fellow members of the White House press corps that his “mission is to see that George Bush is not re-elected.” He is the reporter who wrote falsely that a Republican crowd at a Bush rally in West Allis, Wisconsin, booed the news of President Clinton’s hospitalization, and “Bush did nothing to stop them.” The story was a complete fabrication, later retracted by the AP, but the AP has never responded to our many emails on the subject, and to our knowledge Scott Lindlaw has never been disciplined in any way for filing a false story.
Now, Lindlaw is at it again, spinning the Iraq Survey Group’s report for the benefit of the Kerry campaign. Lindlaw writes, in a story titled “Bush, Cheney Concede Saddam Had No WMDs”:
President Bush and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, even as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue–whether the invasion was justified because Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.Ridiculing the Bush administration’s evolving rationale for war, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry shot back: “You don’t make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact.”
Lindlaw obviously agrees with Kerry’s “ridicule.” But here is the text of what President Bush said; Lindlaw actually quotes the relevant paragraphs:
The Duelfer report also raises important new information about Saddam Hussein’s defiance of the world, and his intent and capability to develop weapons.The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions. He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away.
So Lindlaw grossly mischaracterizes President Bush’s statement. Bush did not invent a “new” rationale for toppling Saddam, or suggest that we went to war simply because Saddam was abusing the oil for food program. The point of Bush’s reference to the oil for food program was that Saddam was abusing it for the specific purpose of regaining his WMD capabilities. This is exactly what the ISG report says. Bush correctly characterized the report; Scott Lindlaw incorrectly characterized Bush’s point. Lindlaw continues:
Duelfer found no formal plan by Saddam to resume WMD production, but the inspector surmised that Saddam intended to do so if U.N. sanctions were lifted. Bush seized upon that inference, using the word “intent” three times in reference to Saddam’s plans to resume making weapons.
This is simply outrageous. Duelfer and the ISG wrote a 1,000 page report, a principal theme of which is Saddam’s continuing intent to reconstitute his WMD programs. There was no “formal plan” because Saddam wasn’t stupid enough to put his WMD intentions in writing–in any event, not in any document that has yet been identified and translated. But to say that Duelfer “surmised” Saddam’s intent is ridiculous; the report lays out hundreds of pages of evidence of Saddam’s intent.
This week marks the first time that the Bush administration has listed abuses in the oil-for-fuel program as an Iraq war rationale. But the strategy holds risks because some of the countries that could be implicated include U.S. allies, such as Poland, Jordan and Egypt. In addition, the United States itself played a significant role in both the creation of the program and how it was operated and overseen.
Here, Lindlaw is just making it up. The Bush administration, as noted above, didn’t cite the “oil for fuel” — that would be “oil for food,” Scott — program as a “first time” rationale; rather, the point was that abuses of the program gave Saddam the opportunity to reconstitute his illegal weapons programs. And the “risks” claimed by Lindlaw are risible. The countries that are actually named in the ISG report as recipients of Iraqi bribery are France, Russia, and China, countries that had Security Council veto power. And the suggestion that “the United States itself played a significant role” in the operation of the U.N.’s oil for food program is ridiculous. The only reference to bribery of Americans that I’ve seen in the report is to an American weapons inspector, presumably Bush critic Scott Ritter. And whoever may have played a “significant role” in creating the U.N. program, it certainly wasn’t anyone in the Bush administration.
“Iraq did not have the weapons that our intelligence believed were there,” Bush said. His words placed the blame on U.S. intelligence agencies.
Huh? Is Lindlaw denying that our intelligence agencies, and those of every other interested country, said that Saddam had banned WMDs? Apparently he hasn’t read the National Intelligence Estimate. Lindlaw is either unpardonably ill-informed, or he is taking a misleading cheap shot at the President.
In recent weeks, Cheney has glossed over the primary justification for the war, most often by simply not mentioning it.
Saddam’s WMDs were indeed one of the reasons for going to war. But the claim that they were the only reason, or the main reason, is one that is simply asserted by Lindlaw and like-minded reporters and is generally taken to be true by dint of repetition. In fact, however, President Bush has always emphasized multiple reasons for liberating Iraq, including the moral imperative to relieve the oppression of the Iraqi people and, even more important, the long-term benefit of beginning the process of reforming the Arab world.
The Democrats have no long-term solution to the problem of terrorism. The only proposal on the table is the President’s: eliminate the cause of terrorism by liberating the Arab world, leading a transformation of the failed, oppressive, corrupt Arab states into modern democracies with economies that offer opportunities for their citizens. President Bush has articulated this rationale for the Iraq war–by any measure, the most important one–many times. Here is how President Bush expressed this rationale in just one of many speeches:
Iraqi democracy will succeed — and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran — that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe — because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo.
Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace.
The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom — the freedom we prize — is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.
The President’s soaring vision puts to shame hacks like Scott Lindlaw who pretend to report the news, but in reality seek to advance a narrow, short-sighted partisan agenda.
good one from Michael Novak: What the Islamists Have Learned.
What we have discovered in Iraq is the weakest link in the ability of the United States to sustain military operations overseas. That link is the U.S. media. They are Islamists’ best friends.
Experience shows that the mainstream press of the United States is alienated from the U.S. military. In addition, the American press is extremely vulnerable to anti-U.S. propaganda. Thus, the American public will be fed nearly everything that foreign adversaries—our band of brothers—wish to feed it about the war. Therefore, I write:
Maxim # 1: To defeat America, impose upon the imagination of its media your own storyline.
Even if you can muster only 10,000 soldiers over the entire countryside of Iraq, paint the narrative like this: The Americans are irresistible occupiers, and yet they cannot prevent small (even individual) acts of destruction. Daily, unrelenting acts of destruction demonstrate that chaos rules. The American strategy, and the American storyline of the war, are invalidated by continuing chaos, highly visible, every single day, on worldwide television. The new dominating story is that the Americans cannot win.
Even though our own forces (for nearly two whole years now) can no longer afford to fight in a single operation lasting longer than a few hours, our martyr-brothers cannot be prevented from committing daily acts of destruction—the more stomach-turning the better—which demonstrate a ferocious will and a determination to destroy.
In such wars, my brothers, whichever party maintains the stronger will, along the most durable storyline, always wins.