Forget reporting the good news. How about getting the story out at all?
Someone from Fox News called me a few nights ago, saying Fox had to turn down a two-week embed due to security reasons. Not security reasons meaning that they might get shot or blown up, but security reasons that their gear might get stolen on base. I have written before about how, even now into the 5th year of the war in Iraq, there are still are no dedicated resources —particularly, secure places for press to live and work so that they can launch off into combat embeds—on the major bases in Baghdad. Fox News, faced with staying in tents with itinerant workers who today might be in Baghdad, and tomorrow in Calcutta or Los Angeles (with someone else’s gear), turned down a two-week embed with our forces. ABC no longer embeds with combat forces due to the sheer danger of the combat, and now Fox has no plans to embed until at least May, simply due to security and workspace on the bases themselves.
Senior Public Affairs officers have shamelessly claimed the lack of living quarters and workspace is due to the “surge.” This fails to explain why there were no such provisions made in 2003. Or 2004. Or 2005. Or 2006. Of course, now in 2007, they have a convenient excuse, and a false either/or: “Would you throw a soldier out of a trailer just so you could have one?” Never a combat soldier, but maybe it would be acceptable to take the place of one of the music bands they unfailingly find room for. Or the sexy cheerleaders and the burly, rich football players and so on and so forth, which of course Public Affairs will say is for morale purposes. To answer the question which soldiers might be thrown-out to make room for a few journalists, how about tossing out a few portly generals who after four solid-years at war haven’t found some accounting dust in the hundreds of billions of dollars spent here to get a few extra trailers and dedicate them for media? If half this battle is being fought in the media, why isn’t one-tenth of one-tenth of one tenth of one-tenth of the budget spent on that half of the war?
That’s a question that needs an answer. While you’re checking in on the troops, check out NRO’s W. Thomas Smith Jr., who’s currently filing from Baghdad.