Monday, February 07, 2005

Military Distrust of the MSM…

The current relationship between the military and the media is both good, and terrible. By many accounts, working relationships between embedded reporters and the military units to which they are attached, are very good. Without a doubt, as a 20-year member of the military, the rest of the MSM is despised by the military. Yes I said, and mean, despised.

The latest flap with Jordan Eason only highlights why. Jordon treats the “US military” as a people-less target, but of course, this is not the case. Consequently, his flippant, accusatory, and slanderous remarks, both in Davos, Switzerland and in Portugal in November 2004, while undoubtedly aimed at a monolith, in the end are a slander against its members, individually and collectively. There is no escape from this. Without proof, without unit numbers, without individual incidents cited, he has branded all members of the military as potential murderers and torturers.

I loathe the MSM, but I would never consider “targeting” or killing a journalist without cause. If a journalist endangered my life or the lives of my men, however I would kill/target in a heartbeat. The mission comes first, period. I will not make a clearing pass to make sure there are no journalists around a damaged personnel carrier or downed helo. I will destroy it as commanded without hesitation or reservation. There are no “time outs” for journalists and their stories. This is combat, and they take their chances with the rest of us.

Conversely, we recognize that reporters are not professionally trained soldiers, so they may need a little looking after. As I watched the video streams in the spring of 2003, there were many stories by reporters praising the care and protection they received by the individuals within the units. So, until we see more proof, this should stand as the record.

Why do I loathe the press…repeated story filing in front of a burned out KC-130 in Khe Sanh, Viet Nam early 1968, leaving the impression that two or three a day were getting shot down. This misrepresentation gave the impression that our troops on the ground were failing, almost daily. Great background shot, but taken by the military as unfair. I side with the military.

Grenada. Pictures are carried in every major newspaper and magazine, showing a bootless pilot dead on the beach. Media defends this as showing part of the horrors of war. The family of the only Marine aviator casualty took it a bit different when they saw their son’s body used to sell more copy. In a panel discussion at Amphibious Warfare School in 1984, not one of the panelists (journalists) felt that there was anything wrong with publishing that photo, even after knowing the circumstances. We loathed them for the lack of respect they gave a fellow human being, his family and his service. We loathe them for the lack of remorse they felt for taking this position as well.


I appreciate Rebecca McKinnon’s comments in Hugh Hewitt’s forum (www.hughhewitt.com), but I find a few defenses a bit shallow. “Herd and mob behavior in the blogoshpere.”? Watch any major news story, particularly a tragedy, and then tell me about herds and mobs. The MSM operates as a pack 90% of the time, EXCEPT when they don’t want to cover something…particularly this story!!! Professional journalists cover the story, and let the chips fall where they may. The “herds and mobs” are the only ones trying to get to the truth here. Get the MSM on this and the blogoshpere will quiet down, but until this happens don’t dismiss the collective efforts of our citizen journalists as “herd and mob” action.

Her example about a checkpoint incident, where a journalist had to wait his/her turn, again shows the underlying arrogant expectations of journalists. Humble soldiers wait their turns. They are in lines half of their military lives. Why do journalist feel different? Why do they believe that they deserve head of the line privileges, while others wait their turn? Individual targeting, or following established procedures in order to protect all within the “green zone?” I suggest that by attempting to short circuit procedures that journalist endangered the lives of everyone already at the checkpoint, and potentially a significant number of people within. Targeting? Get real.

There are no excuses for journalists coloring a story, regardless of the pressures of combat. Would military personnel be justified in killing civilians just because of the pressures of combat? If the troops can take the time to sort it out under fire, the journalists can take the time to sort it out when filing their stories. No built in excuse for journalists, as she offers below.

“I can see why this situation might keep news execs up at night worrying about their people, and why it might also lead to a feeling amongst non-embedded journalists in Iraq that some servicepeople dislike them and are "out to get them," whether or not that's really the case. I can also see how that feeling might color journalists' reporting about the U.S. military in Iraq. The journalists are only human and they're working in a dangerous environment.”

William Prochnau’s book Once Upon a Distant War is an excellent book chronicling the early days of reporting in Vietnam. He brings to light the many positive contributions that professional journalists made during the early years in Vietnam. Practices and professionalism that waned as lesser reporters began to look for advancement and notoriety through the reporting of the war. Reporting that eventually created a chasm that has yet to be fully mended.

Gulf War I and OIF, through embedded reporting, went a long way to bring facts to the MSM while repairing much of the damage caused in the 70’s and 80’s, but Eason Jordan’s irresponsible accusations just freshen the wounds, and push reconciliation well out into the future. I don’t regret it. When professional journalism returns to the MSM, that chasm can be narrowed. They can start by covering this story.

3 comments:

Kerry said...

Hooah! Major Mike, one shot, one kill. That "Jordon treats the 'US military' as a people-less target" is the worst sort of bigotry; a defaming of a group as an 'other'. May we suppose that none of his best friends are service members, present or past? A ray of hope in the MSM morass is their ability to step in it just before putting their feet into their mouths. Exposing bigotry speeds it demise. This country has a warrior culture to be proud of, not despised, dismissed, slandered and scorned.

Major Mike said...

Vasily, thanks for your feedback! I believe that the Jordans of the world take potshots at organizations believing that the organization takes the brunt of the charges, while the members are free to disassociate themselves from the attacks. Hardly possible, particularly in hgihly effective organizations like the military...they can't help but takr it personal. Jordan needs to know that his throwaway lines in foreign countries, bashing the US and it institutions, actually impact the individuals within those institutions. Thanks again.

Subsunk said...

Mike,

Don't get discouraged here. Most Americans feel the same way you do. Keep pouring it on the MSM. They are lying fools who deserve neither protection nor interviews. They need to find out their writing, and certainly their ethical standards aren't any different than the average American High School student.

You do good work.

Subsunk

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