Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Iraq, Iran and Coverage of the Iraqi War - Ralph Peters Does Not Go Far Enough

Ralph Peters, retired Army officer and now NY Post columnist, has severe criticism of the media for underreporting the Iraq War as significant gains are being made. The truth is that his criticism is nowhere near as biting as is warranted. FDR's warning to the press not to repeat enemy propaganda and not to take a position contrary to the government without a reasonable basis has been shredded. Bereft of any shred of journalistic ethics, the MSM is doing all it can to negate good news from Iraq where they can and, indeed, is giving a good deal of its reporting over to the enemy perspective.


Ralph Peters, in his column today, Success In Iraq, A Media Blackout, rightly takes the MSM to task today for its minimalist coverage of the Iraq War, its downplaying of success, and its heavy coverage of anything negative:

. . . As in Basra the month before, absent-without-leave (and hiding in Iran) Muqtada al Sadr quit under pressure from Iraqi and US troops. The missile and mortar attacks on the Green Zone stopped. There's peace in the streets.

Today, Iraqi soldiers, not militia thugs, patrol the lanes of Sadr City, where waste has replaced roadside bombs as the greatest danger to careless footsteps. US advisers and troops support the effort, but Iraq's government has taken another giant step forward in establishing law and order.

My fellow Americans, have you read or seen a single interview with any of the millions of Iraqis in Sadr City or Basra who are thrilled that the gangster militias are gone from their neighborhoods?

Didn't think so. The basic mission of the American media between now and November is to convince you, the voter, that Iraq's still a hopeless mess. . . .

Read the entire article. Ralph Peters is correct, but his criticism goes nowhere near far enough. Perhaps the most damning indictment of the press is their willingness to report the spin from the enemy perspective and to, in many cases, report that spin as an objective statement of truth.

Consider just the last two months of reporting. The fight for Basra was portrayed by the media as nothing more than internicine Shia violence undertaken for political purposes. No mention was given to the incredible importance of Basra to Iraq's economy, nor the fact that the Sadrists, supported by Iran, were terrorizing the population of Basra and had taken over, running the city as a mini-caliphate and a cash cow for theft, extortion and graft - all of which are fully documented here. No mention was given of the necessisty of the government to stamp out an armed militia contesting government control. So where did the media get that idea that this was simply internicine Shia violence? It originated from Sadr days before the MSM picked it up and ran with it as their main theme.

Subsequent reporting for weeks afterwards was one negative story after another about the Basra offensive, all studded with quotes from Sadrists - the same folk who, elsewhere throughout Iraq, are killing American soldiers. It wasn't until six weeks after the fact that the NYT ran a story heavy with qualifiers reporting the success in Basra and how the people are overjoyed to be out from under the tyranny of the Sadrists.

The same thing is occurring now as regards the events in Sadr City and the degree of Iranian involvement with Sadr. Time ran an atrocious piece of agenda journalism two weeks accusing the military of being dishonest about whether Iran is actually supporting Sadrists in Iraq. It is a common theme in the MSM now, repeated again by WaPo in their reporting today, complete with several bald quotes of Sadrists to the contrary. Reporting leading up to the capitulation of Sadr emphasized Sadr's strength and emphasized the narrative from the Sadrist viewpoint.

Compare and contrast our media of today to that of WWII and what FDR asked of them in wartime. On the eve of WWII, in his radio speech to the nation, FDR did not ask the press to shill for the U.S., but rather asked them not to contradict U.S. government sources unless they were convinced that the U.S. government was not being truthful with them.

To all newspapers and radio stations-all those who reach the eyes and ears of the American people-I say this: You have a most grave responsibility to the Nation now and for the duration of this war. If you feel that your Government is not disclosing enough of the truth, you have very right to say so. But-in the absence of all the facts, as revealed by official sources-you have no right to deal out unconfirmed reports in such a way as to make people believe they are gospel truth. Every citizen, in every walk of life, shares this same responsibility. The lives of our soldiers and sailors-the whole future of this Nation- depend upon the manner in which each and every one of us fulfills his obligation to our country.

Read the entire speech. Today, our press regularly reports the enemy narrative as a counterpoint without any factual belief in its truth, but merely to suggest that the U.S. is not being honest. It really is an atrocity.

When all is said and done, there needs to be a review of the role the press has played in twisting coverage of the Iraq War and how they have made use of the enemy narrative. Reporting on the Iraq war has been the moral and ethical lowpoint of modern journalism.

1 comment:

Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here: