My column yesterday is not going to go down as a reader favorite. Thanks for the all the e-emails (especially the ones that avoided accusations of bad faith!). Here are a few representatives e-mails:
I read your column today entitled, “When the Media’s Right”. You make some very important points. I believe the reason you hear conservatives talk about the good that’s taking place over in Iraq is because the reporting is so out of balance. I must tell you that I am U.S. airman. I have not been to Iraq myself, but know others who have. The thing I hear is that what you see in the media is not the whole story. I had one gentleman tell me that what is reported in the media is just one small portion of what takes place in Iraq. A LARGE part of the nation is at peace and starting to thrive. Am I saying that this is the only thing that should be reported? Absolutely not. Both sides should be reported. That is not happening and that is why many conservative Americans are upset with the reporting. Why is this important? Because, Mr. Lowry, as I’m sure you know, a big part of winning any war, is winning the propaganda war. If the only thing the American people see are the terrible things that happen in Iraq, then quite naturally most are going to say let’s get out. The problem is Americans are basing this decision with only part of the picture. You need the whole picture to make the wisest choice. What makes it worse is our enemies use the bias reporting to their advantage. This makes it more difficult for our soldiers because they have to wonder if the American people are really with them. Many of us also view the media as nuisances and a necessary evil at best or at worse, part of the enemy we’re fighting against. There is this thinking in our society that says this adversarial relationship is good for our democracy. But there’s a biblical verse that says, “And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” We are a nation that is divided against itself. How much longer can we stand?
To sum up what I’m trying to say, as I said earlier, you make some very good points about facing the reality of the situation in Iraq. The problem lies in the fact that we aren’t getting the whole reality. Just a very concerned soldier.
While I agree with your analysis highlighting the need for political and military leaders to understand Iraq as it is, not as they wished it could be, I feel you discount the power our media has in not only reporting events, but shaping events as well. Our enemies are perceptive students of our history and know full well the limits of U.S. citizen support for protracted war vis a vis Vietnam. When our media report, or rather prognosticate, that action X will lead to result Y in Iraq (whether we’re talking sectarian violence, attacks against civilians, etc), and the result said occurrences in Iraq will have on popular support for the war back home, then you can bet that action enters into the enemy’s calculus. They have read General Giap’s memoirs and know the strategic center of gravity for the U.S. is the will of the people. By reading those dire media predictions about what could be, both in Iraq and here at home, the enemy in essence attempts to turn them into self-fulfilling prophecies.
…I feel your analysis on this issue misses a key point in modern warfare (ie, media influence) and devalues the impact 24 hour news coverage has on the battlefield. Thanks for allowing me the time to express my take on this issue.
One of the things that annoys me about media coverage of Iraq is that the MSM seems to have a deliberate policy of not reporting heroism exhibited by our troops there.
There is much more coverage of wounded soldiers in rehab than of troops who acted heroically on the battlefield. Soldiers who died saving others are ignored. A recent Medal of Honor award was barely covered on the Network news. I heard about it on the Net.