One of the subjects we touched on was media coverage of the war. Our exchange:
Pollowitz: You write that the media — “taking their cue from the American public — often shy away” from reporting the “horrors of war.” Do the media need to change the way they cover the war in Afghanistan and future conflicts? Have the media and the American public failed the men and women in uniform?
Tapper: It’s a complicated topic, because if the viewers/readers wanted extensive war coverage (let alone more graphic coverage) our capitalist media system would provide it. For the most part, they don’t, though many of us in the media try to bring them coverage of the war anyway — witness Mike Boettcher’s and Martha Raddatz’s reports on the war, and Bob Woodruff’s pieces on the troops.
On the other hand, the desire by some readers to take a look at my book and some other books about the war suggests there is a market for these stories.
And later on:
Pollowitz: You’ve said that the media helped “tip the scales” to then-senator Obama in 2008, first in his primary contests with Hillary Clinton and later in the general election against Senator John McCain. Do you think the media have given President Obama a pass in regard to his handling of the Afghan war — in covering green-on-blue attacks, troop levels, corruption in the Karzai government, etc.?
Tapper: I don’t think the media have covered the war in Afghanistan as deeply and thoroughly as we should be doing — but I think that began long before the election of President Obama, and I don’t think it’s a matter of “liberal bias” as much as public weariness of our nation’s longest war. (That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be covering it more; it’s just a sad reality of news consumerism.) Regarding this election, I can’t say that the Romney campaign ever made one consistent (key word) and defining critique of the president’s handling of the war in Afghanistan that would have propelled the issue to the forefront of the debate.
He’s right. There wasn’t enough questioning of the candidates about Afghanistan in 2008 or 2012, nor did the public ask for answers from the candidates. Here’s hoping, moving forward, the White House Press Corps takes a cue from Tapper and starts asking the tough questions that have been avoided to date.