When Mullahs and Hawks Agree

Seymour Hersh's reporting about American military plans for Iran led to cries of "treason" from Tony Blankley, Michael Ledeen, David Frum, Charles Johnson, Michael Christy, William Teach, Daniel Medley, David Gaw, Bob Kohn, Blake Elliot, "Jay Gatsby," FuckFrance.com, and many many many others. But at least one country had the cojones to censor Hersh's piece -- Iran.

In related news, here's a Thomas Sowell column you'll want to clip and save: Fourth Estate or Fifth Column?

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  • ||

    Those freedom-lovers are just a never ending source of amusement, huh?

    Move along, nothing much to see here--just more intellectually fraudulent "conservatives" exposing themselves.

    It does seem like a LONG time ago that libertarians felt at home in the "conservative" "movement", doesn't it?

    Oh well, unless you are truly an idiot, you can only be a "useful idiot" for so long....

  • ||

    The most obvious difference is that the European underground did not go about targeting innocent civilians.

    That's not really true. The "underground" in Yugoslavia could be quite brutal.

  • fyodor||

    Interesting that Rummel (from Jesse Walker's post) and Sowell both make the claim that the MSM reports only on Americans killed and not casualties inflicted. Sowell states that the MSM does this even when the two are linked by happening in the same battle. Neither, however, cite any specific examples. Seems most US deaths since "Mission Accomplished" have been the result of suicide bombers and lone missiles and the like. Have there been any major battles other than Ramallah (sp?)? My skepticism is only increased by Sowell's theoretical headline inclusion of the word "more" in "Ten more Americans killed in Iraq today," which seems rather unlikely. But maybe there's a grain of truth to this charge? Enlighten me, hawks. But tell more than just that they ignore "the good news." As joe pointed out in that other thread, that's the nature of news. Rummel and Sowell's charge (especially as cited by Sowell) goes way beyond that.

  • ||

    So, let's imagine that the MSM started giving less coverage to American deaths, and started saying more about how well things are going.

    What would you say to this hypothetical footage of a sobbing war widow?

    "The liberal media doesn't want to talk about my dead husband. He gave his life for his country, and dozens of other brave men just like him are giving their lives for their country every month, but nobody talks about them. The liberal media prefers to just say that the government is doing a good job over there and then move on to talk about Michael Jackson. I guess it's because most of our troops come from the so-called 'flyover country'. Maybe if the casualties came from New York and LA they'd talk about these brave men dying."

  • ||

    What Seymour Hersh write that we didn't already know? For example, I've been hearing rumors about U.S. incursions into Iran from Afghanistan for almost a year now.

  • ||

    fyodor:

    I have only anecdotal evidence to back this up, but it comes from five close friends in Iraq who have no reason to lie to me (2 Marines, 1 Army, 1 Army NG, 1 contractor)...

    AP, Reuters, et. al. run stories about how many Americans were killed the previous day, and I have rarely seen numbers of insurgents killed in the same story. Obviously this goes along with the idea that Americans are concerned more with how many Americans die than Iraqis (either civilian or insurgent).

    But as my friends read the same articles they are completely amazed at how one sided these stories are thematically.

    Each has told me stories of some mortar attack or drive by that was rapidly followed up by our guys gunning down six or eight baddies. One of the Marines told me about a sweep they did during the first go around in Fallujah where they nailed about 30 insurgent types in the span of about 4 hours, with zero American casualties. He thought he'd make the papers, but the embed with them never posted a story on it. The civilian photographer with them didn't even snap pictures.

    I understand that the media writes what sells, but unfortunately, IMO, this is too often twisted into selling us what it writes. All these journos have Pulitzer prizes on their minds and you don't get there by reporting good news. You show shot up or dead soldiers and kids with missing limbs.

    Like I said, it's all anecdotal, but I know and trust these guys to tell me the truth so it makes me take most news accounts with a healthy dose of salt.

  • ||

    "Seems most US deaths since "Mission Accomplished" have been the result of suicide bombers and lone missiles and the like. Have there been any major battles other than Ramallah (sp?)? My skepticism is only increased by Sowell's theoretical headline inclusion of the word "more" in "Ten more Americans killed in Iraq today," which seems rather unlikely. But maybe there's a grain of truth to this charge? Enlighten me, hawks."

    I'll enlighten you a little ... but sorry, I'm not a hawk. For one, your spelling isn't wrong, your location is: it's Fallujah, not Ramallah.

    Due to the fact that the majority of the MSM spend most or all of their time in their hotels, they have a very limited view on what is going on. Unlike in Vietnam, the DoD doesn't report body counts. Since there are rarely reporters around the action, they have little idea of the results of a firefight or other conflicts except for the green-zone briefings of the number, service and country of military people killed and wounded. And, unfortunately for us, as the recipients of their reports, they often know very little about Iraq, the people, the language, or the military. Without a frame of reference other than your ideology it's hard to do an objective report.

    If you do a little research (isn't the internet great!), you can find reports, stories, letters, etc. from the soldiers, marines and airmen themselves. Also, if you're like me, you can get first-hand accounts from the people you know over there who are actually on the front lines. What they tell me is a lot different than what I read and hear in the MSM. They DO give a lot more than they take; there are a LOT more casualties on the other side.

    FYI, U.S. casualties from suicide bombers are the exception, not the rule. The jihadists reserve that privilege for Iraqi civilians and police.

  • ||

    So am I a fascist for thinking maybe Hersch shouldn't report that the CIA is conducting secret missions in Iran?

  • ||

    Of course you are steve, since everyone knows (aside from a few kooks) that western culture in general and american culture specifically is an evil heartless political ideal that needs to be minimized as much as possible to prevent more imitators.

    What are you, some kind of death freak or something?

  • fyodor||

    Don Miquel,

    Re Fallujah, thanks for the correction. (No wonder I was thinking there was a "j" in there somewhere!)

    Re "If you do a little research (isn't the internet great!)," this is my research! :-)

    Otherwise, thanks to you and huskermet for the insights. Interesting that you have similar stories but very different explanations.

  • ||

    Matt, the funniest part is that UPI's Richard Sale basically confirmed Hersh's story a few days later, and I didn't notice Tony Blankley et. al yelling TRAITOR!!!11!! then.

  • ||

    The point being, Steve, that if Seymour Hersh is reporting them, maybe they aren't all that secret.

    If they were supposed to be a secret and Hersh somehow finds out about them, sounds like a CIA problem and not a press problem to me.

  • Matt Welch||

    steve -- Not at all.

  • ||

    Witness Average American and steve playing the victimology card just like any good Democrat. :)

  • ||

    Average American: Please point to ANYONE on this blog making an argument REMOTELY close to your stupid screed.

  • ||

    I think there must be a real difficulty for reporters. Gunning down lots of Iraqi bad guys, while the military objective for many a squad and a sign of Marines doing their job, doesn't really make for happy copy that the folks at home are going to want to read. That said, when our military units have "cleaned out" insurgent strongholds -- Fallujah, Samarrah, Najaf -- there was an element of "body count" reporting.

    Is that good news anyway? I think we've all figured out by now that this is not a conventional war with a regular front along which progress can be measured. I mean, I'm delighted if there are fewer of the guys who shoot at our guys, but "victory" in an insurgency would amount to peace and quiet, not finding new Iraqis who need killing every day.

  • ||

    Body counts are irrelevant, without further context. The Nazis killed far more Russians than vice versa--BFD. The Germans also "outkilled" the allies in WWI.

    In non-traditional/"asymmertical" conflicts, it probably means even less--Algeria, Vietnam, etc. The story isn't that the US can kill the bad guys--and innocent bystanders--far more efficiently than they can reciprocate; it's the ongoing conflict, instability and lack of security on the ground.

    Ideological crybabies who have been consistantly WRONG--when not outright lying--are hunting around for scapegoats. Wow, what a shock.

  • ||

    fyodor: As an exercise in exploring coverage bias, I suggest you check aljazeera.net. The events chosen for coverage and the language used seem quite opposite of Don Miguel's anecdotes. For example, there was no coverage of Iraqi election celebrations or individual courage, only reporting about overstated turnout, Sunni non-participation, and ballot fraud. Frequently they offer figures on how many terrorist/civilian casualties our coalition inflicts. Al-jazeera makes even our dour Leftstream Media look like fawning optimists. But they're all covering the same war...

  • ||

    I would also suggest that as an exercise in comparison, go back and read a few pre-Vietnam era accounts of battles, particularly from the 40s. They were a lot more jingoistic (never referring to "Germans" but rather "Nazis" for instance).

    They also tended to report in a more factual, rather than emotional way. You didn't just get our dead or their dead, you got both.

    Which leads me to my main gripe: I don't want to hear all good news or all bad news. I want to hear all the news.

  • ||

    Oh, I forgot to add...

    For those who think body count is as far as it goes, think of all of the do-gooder stuff that goes unreported as well.

    I just heard on NPR (of all places) that the 10th Mountain has spent $80 million dollars alone, and has over 200 capital projects underway just in West Baghdad.

    This is what I mean. You hear lots of bad because I think in some ways that's what the press expects us to want. Speaking for myself, I'd like to hear some more about the good things going on there. Not replacing the bad, but in addition to. There's a whole lot of reporting that could be being done that isn't.

  • ||

    fyodor:

    Let me expand on what I said about reporters. Some of them do go out "embedded" with the troops. For example, in the battle for Fallujah there were quite a few. I'm sure many readers here saw some of the reports and of course there was the infamous incident with the Marine. But the fact is there are numerous operations every day, especially in Al Anbar province, in which reporters never go (in general, these guys only go out when there's likely to be a "big" story such as the cleanup of Fallujah). Of course, another reason they stay in the hotels is that when they're not with the military they're sitting ducks likely to be shot or kidnapped.

    Marines and soldiers do patrols and armed reconnaissance every day. In other words, the're looking for trouble and are ready to dish it out. A lot of the time nothing happens, so reporters don't want to go since there's nothing to report about (not to mention that most marines and soldiers don't want them to come along since they have to take care of them and they don't trust them). If you read the daily DOD press releases you can infer that stuff is going on because they'll report a casualty with something like "LCpl John Doe died Feb. 9 from wounds received as a result of hostile action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq." But you won't read anything in the MSM with any details about what happened.

  • ||

    I don't recall having much difficulty finding stories in the MSM about the heroic troops kicking ass and pulling down statues in March and April of 2003.

    Could the coverage of the events in Iraq have become more troubling, because the events in Iraq have become more troubling? Naaahhhhhhh.

  • ||

    A lot of this criticism is reminscent of urban black leaders complaining that their neigbhorhoods only make the news when somebody gets shot. How many times have you read some Baptist preacher or neighborhood activist complain "Where were the cameras when we opened the Teen Center?" Of course, the answer is that the evil media is horribly racist, because nothing else could explain greater media interest in a driveby shooting than in an after school program.

    I'm sympathetic to their frustration, as I am to that of people on the ground in Iraq. I'd love to see the local news give as much attention to my city's traffic calming projects and public festivals as they give to gang violence and house fires, but with one or two rare exceptions, the dynamic here is about getting people to put quarters in newspaper boxes, not some nefarious plot.

  • ||

    Thomas Sowell has so many 'facts' wrong, I wonder how much the Bush administration is paying HIM. Virtually all the various undergrounds in Europe used murder as a form of coercion. And I must have been a tourist when the US army kept me in Kuwait for a year in 1995-96. Enemy bodycount is irrelevant, as it was in VietNam, when a 4-inch diameter bloodstain counted as a confirmed enemy KIA.

  • ||

    joe:

    I don't believe there's a plot either, FWIW. I don't think the dynamic is strictly selling newspapers (or ratings) however.

    If the motives were purely economic, MSM doesn't have a very good handle on their markets. Just looking at the posts up here (and the opinions up here swing in both directions) gives ample proof that there is a large segment of the population who want to hear about the good news as well.as the bad.

    As another example, the popularity of Fox News is largely based on its "America, Fuck Yeah!" tone, which includes its coverage of the feel good pieces.

    I still can only conclude that a good deal of what some see as MSM negativity is based on what the journos see as "real"news. And through their formative years, newbie reporters are trained to see "real" news as Woodward/Bernstein, hardhitting expose type stuff designed to shape opinion and expose corruption, rather than reporting strictly the facts as they happen.

    So yes, there's no journalistic Illuminati secretly bending the press toward negativity or an anti-war stance. However there is a systemic predisposition to negativity based on journalism schools' and editors' notions of what constitutes serious journalism. It may be overt (which I think is uncommon), but more often it's a turn of a phrase or an angle on a story that tips the balance.

    Whatever the cause or causes, the effects are undeniable. I see and hear mostly bad news in spite of knowing for a fact that lots of good news takes place. I don't need some third rate Lou Grant helping me shape my opinion. When given ALL the facts, I'm capable of doing that myself.

  • fyodor||

    huskermet,

    Just looking at the posts up here ... gives ample proof that there is a large segment of the population who want to hear about the good news as well.as the bad.

    I remember several years ago Hollywood made some "feel-good" movie in response to complaints that their movies were too violent. No one went to see it. Just because people say they want to read good news, doesn't mean that that's really a way to sell more (or as many) papers. It's always easy to say from the outside that some industry is blowing it, but I think more often than not that people know how to run their own business better than those who snipe from afar.

    Plus, this notion that they should print more good news in addition to what they're printing at present ignores reality. There has to be something lost to print more good news, whether that's printing less bad news or less news on other issues, or whether that's having to spend more on paper, which the stockholders might object to, etc. Maybe they could make the print smaller, but you get the idea, hopefully.

    My taking issue with you on these particular points should be construed to mean I'm taking issue with you on any other account.

  • ||

    I just wish they would print/broadcast more accurate news.

    I have a little test that anyone can take. Take any event in which you participated or which you saw (in person) or take any subject in which you are knowlegeable (such as your profession or a long-time hobby). Now read news reports or view news broadcasts about those events and subjects.

    How accurate is it? How much is incomplete or one-sided? How much is flat out wrong or false? My experience is not exactly a ringing endorsement for journalists. In fact, I submit that journalists are better at writing about things than they are about knowing the same things.

    And then there are the oxymoronic "sports journalists" ...

  • fyodor||

    Don Miquel,

    Well, I see your point and you're probably right about that. But then, much like the weather, there's not a whole lot we can do about it.

  • ||

    Holy crap, I just read the Washington Times piece.

    Lookie here: "But, in recent years, high officials of Vietnam's communist government have themselves admitted they lost the war on the battlefields but won it in the U.S. media and on the streets of America, where political pressures from the antiwar movement threw away the victory for which thousands of American lives had been sacrificed."

    Except that this is an internet rumor that has been Snopesed already. Perhaps aware of that fact, Mr. Sowell changed the subject from "General Giap" to the more amorphous "high officials of Vietnam's communist government."

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