Iraq

Bad Press from Iraq: Not All the MSM's Fault…

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…..confesses true-blue war-supportin', troop-lovin' blogger-journalist Michael Yon in the pages of the stay-the-course-but-faster Weekly Standard; it's to a large degree the fault of the military's crappy public affairs officers. Blaming America First, to be sure, but Yon makes a good case for their lack of cooperation with embedding even the most eager-beaver of reporters in his lengthy report.

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  1. I am quite sure that, if an asteroid were heading for our planet, politicians would blame the media.

  2. I’d blame Hollywood. Without their stupid asteroid/comet-headin’-for-Earth films, perhaps we’d take the threat more seriously.

    In any event, I have a solution. One of my left-wing associates at work and I have reached a compromise. Do what people have suggested before and split Iraq up, with some sort of agreement about the oil. It could operate under a federal republic scheme, I suppose, but that would take some doing to succeed. That, or give Iraq to the U.K. and tell them this is all their fault.

  3. Mr. Doherty – Did you even read the article before you posted?

    Yon’s complaints are primarily about ONE Public Affairs officer (Lt Col Barry Johnson, Combined Press Information Center Director) and somewhat about the Pentagon’s system itself:

    “Most military public affairs officers are professionals dedicated to their jobs, but it takes only a few well-placed incompetents to cripple our ability to match and trump al Sahab. By enabling incompetence, the Pentagon has allowed the problem to fester to the point of censorship… As stated at the outset, many PAO officers are extremely hardworking and dedicated. My dealings with other PAOs, such as USMC Major Jeffrey Pool and Army Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, have been exemplary. But a system that so easily thwarts the work of good men and women is a system in desperate need of an overhaul.”

    I think Yon is about the closest thing to Ernie Pyle as this war is going to see – and that’s not a comparison I make lightly. If he’s having trouble getting access that’s just plain wrong.

    But you’re distorting the guy’s point so much that it isn’t recognizable. Yon isn’t hammering all public affairs officers – just one, and the system that allows that one officer to block his access.

  4. Rob

    Im afraid you are wrong.

    Mike isn’t blaming the entire problem on LtC Johnson. You need to re read the entire piece.

    With Mikes permisson I wrote two blog pieces BEFORE Censoring Iraq was published – and much of what I share that happened to Mike and to several others occured when Lt.Steve Boylan was director of CPIC.

    As a point of fair disclosure, Mike and I are friends and I’ve been aware of the problem at CPIC for 18 months.

    The piece he wrote lays blame on CPIC and the DOD who oversee CPIC. Barry Johnson was at that point running CPIC, but Barry didn’t act alone. Mike clearly states in the piece he took the issue to the TOP ( much higher than Barry) and nothing changed.

    Mike makes it clear in the piece that he does not lay the blame on ONE person. He makes it clear that CPIC and the DOD is layered with incompetance and that CPIC has failed at understanding how to handle the media, and how to develop mutually beneficial military media relationships.

    You are free to watch an hour long interview Mike did for CSPAN – its available on his website – in which he discusses “Censoring Iraq” and makes it clear YET AGAIN that Lt Col Barry Johnson is NOT SOLEY to blame and the problem lies with CPIC.

    And, at a recent Military Reporters and Editors event he attended – he spoke several times about media military relationship and how CPIC in its entirety is to blame for the problem,
    He does lay SOME of the blame on the MSM – and the fact that unless on embeds over a 30 day period at the minimum, any reporting from Iraq or AFG is incomplete and leans towards being extremely negative.

    Mike does feel that the media also acts irresponsibly and with an agenda altho he is qui8ck to acknowledge some key individuals whose coverage he feels is excellent, Dexter Filkins, Tony Castenada, John Burns, to name three.

    Please re read Censoring Iraq, you seem to have misunderstood the entire premise of the piece, and please view the CSPAN interview.

  5. Please me be clear – While the problems I wrote about DID occur on Steve Boylan’s watch, including a lawsuit over Mikes iconic photo – LtC Steve Boylan went out of his way to do the right thing after Mike won the lawsuit. He acknowledged to Mike the problems and did endeavor to help from “within” the system, but tono avail. The problem is that CPIC is over seen by various empowered individuals who are a huge part of the problem and in turn their actions, their incompetance and their ‘mentality’ filter down through organizational structure of CPIC.

    PAO’s in general are simply doing their job – their hands are tied – Mike understands this and has no beef with them collectively, but those at the TOP are responsible for actions that have resulted, intentionally or not, in censorship.

    Mike doesnt care if censorship is the result of blind incompetance or if is is deliberate and that is the underlying message of his piece. Mike says very clearly in the piece that Once Mike brought the issue to those empowered to make changes – NOTHING CHANGED.

    This speaks to a huge problem within CPIC – and it is NOT borne soley on the shoulders of Lt Col Barry Johnson.

    Could Lt Col Barry Johnson have taken different action? YES- but it would have cost HIM his career within the organization of CPIC – that implies a problem at the top. This problem filters down throughout CPIC.

    It is hoped based on the publication of this piece – that the efforts CPIC are now making to rectify their incompetance – will come to fruition.

    That remains to be seen.

    But I want to be clear that Mike Yon DOES NOT hold ONE MAN responsble. He makes that clear in “Censoring Iraq” and he re-states this position again during the CSPAN interview.

  6. Huntress,

    I’m not saying that Yon isn’t correct about problems at CPIC and up the DoD chain – I think he’s right. I am saying that Doherty’s post makes it look like Yon is gunning for all PAO’s and that’s not the case from what I’ve seen and read.

    Maybe Yon IS hammering all public affairs officers, but that clearly isn’t what he says in his article – as demonstrated by the quotes in my previous post. But Doherty linked to Yon’s “Censoring Iraq” article as a supporting document for what I think is clearly a distortion of Yon’s article.

    If Yon thinks problems “it’s to a large degree the fault of the military’s crappy public affairs officers. Blaming America First, to be sure, but Yon makes a good case for their lack of cooperation with embedding even the most eager-beaver of reporters in his lengthy report”

    I read the article. I quoted the article in my comment, to point out that Yon is not taking to task ALL military PAO’s, which is what Doherty’s post states. That’s a claim that reading Yon’s article clearly refutes but which Doherty is making.

    To be honest, I haven’t really followed the legal issues surrounding Yon’s photo, though I’ve read a bunch of his dispatches. I haven’t watched an hour-long interview of Yon – it takes some riveting drama to get me to watch an hour of C-SPAN!

    Since I don’t know him personally, you are certainly better able to speak for him than I.

    But when reading a post with a supporting link that completely undermines the premise of the post (like Doherty’s), I think it’s fair to call “BS on the play.”

    What I said and what you said appear to be the same: “Yon isn’t hammering all public affairs officers – just one, and the system that allows that one officer to block his access”

    and

    “PAO’s in general are simply doing their job – their hands are tied – Mike understands this and has no beef with them collectively, but those at the TOP are responsible for actions that have resulted, intentionally or not, in censorship.”

    Frankly, I can’t say enough good things about his coverage. I’m an amateur Ernie Pyle scholar, and in my opinion Yon is about the closest thing to an Ernie Pyle this country has seen since Pyle died at Ie Jima.

    I couldn’t agree more with Yon’s statement: “I believe now as I did then: The government of the United States has no right to send our people off to war and keep secret that which it has no plausible military reason to keep secret. After all, American blood and treasure is being spent. Americans should know how our soldiers are doing, and what they are doing while wearing our flag. The government has no right to withhold information or to deny access to our combat forces just because that information might anger, frighten, or disturb us.”

  7. Here we go again – The Weekly Standard, bashing the liberation of Iraq. They just don’t get it.

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