Sunday, August 21, 2005

Information Wars

One thing has become clear in the month of August. While we continue to win on the ground in Iraq, we are losing the information war at home. On Pundit Review Radio last weekend, the incomparable Michael Yon's told us that the troops in Mosul have better morale than those of us here in the states. That is so scary, so sad, so dangerous.

Yon expalins what is happening...

Proximity Delays

For example, our soldiers capture or kill top terror figures in Mosul routinely. Sometimes in stunning operations that display split-second timing. The "higher ups" often say, almost reflexively, that they don't want the enemy to know about these kills or captures.

Sounds reasonable. But whether soldiers sleek through dark allies with silenced weapons, slipping over walls with padded ladders, snatching sleeping terrorists from their beds before they can fully waken; or, whether they engage in a gunfight at a busy intersection and drag terrorists from behind the wheels of their cars--these are not anonymous men. Families notice when daddy's gone missing.

If we aren't keeping it secret from the enemy--and we can't keep it secret from them--who do we protect by keeping quiet? These are not illegal operations. These are examples of the effectiveness of our forces. In Mosul alone there are daily events where the Coalition gets things right, that I never write about.

The "proximity delay" seems to be bi-directional. The higher-ups also seem to have a disconnect with what the media eventually does with Coalition successes. I kept silent for days on the Zarqawi-letter dispatch, ready to post what was probably the single most important piece of insider information to drop into our hands in quite some time. I requested clearance several times per day, each time being asked to hold back. I complied.

But then, without even giving the leaders at Deuce Four a head's up, a typically entralling military press release went out to major, mainstream, media outlets. We all learned of it on CNN. The Zarqawi-letter story was almost unrecognizable. Because, in the hands of a network that hasn't had a body in the field in Mosul long enough to get their bearings, the best the media could do is paraphrase the military press release. So what should have been a front page banner headline story ended up buried on page 6.

A major reason for the feeling around here that the public is turning against this war has been the Cindy Sheehan phenomenon in Crawford. Patterico, another recent guest on Pundit Review Radio, has an Op-Ed in today's LA Times taking a look at the paper's coverage. It shows once agan how MSM organizations can omit information central to the story and distort everything that follows. It also shows how woefully uninformed people can be if they rely on only the agenda driven MSM for news. Good for Patterico for calling them on it (again), and good for the LA Times for puplishing a beatdown of themselves in their paper.

Peacenik paper fawns over antiwar mom

in its apparent zeal to portray Sheehan as the Rosa Parks of the antiwar movement, the Los Angeles Times has omitted facts and perspectives that might undercut her message or explain the president's reluctance to meet with her again.

For example, The Times uncritically reported Sheehan's claim that the president had behaved callously in a June 2004 meeting with her and her husband, refusing to look at pictures of Casey or listen to stories about him. The Times claimed without qualification that Sheehan "came away from that meeting dissatisfied and angry."

But the article failed to mention that Sheehan had previously described Bush as sincere and sympathetic in the meeting.

Of that trip, Sheehan said: "That was the gift the president gave us, the gift of happiness, of being together." In the 11 articles and columns about Sheehan that The Times had run on its news pages as of Friday, there is no hint of her previous praise for the president.

Nor would you learn that Casey Sheehan reenlisted after the war started. And only The Times' April 2004 obituary for the 24-year-old Army specialist noted that he bravely volunteered for the rescue mission in which he was killed by terrorists.

Rational people can disagree whether the war in Iraq is justified. But a newspaper's job is to report all relevant facts and present different perspectives, not just those that suit one particular viewpoint.

By that measure, The Times has woefully failed its readers with its one-sided coverage of the Cindy Sheehan story.


At 8/21/2005 1:03 PM, Blogger Patterico said...

Thanks for linking it!

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