August 29, 2007

The Big Picture(s) [Karl]

In the midst of the still-lingering controversy over the truthiness of The New Republic’s “Baghdad Diarist,” more than a few people suggested that war supporters, unable to discredit the real bad news coming from Iraq, targeted the Scott Thomas Beauchamp stories as a weak link.  I cannot speak for everyone who supports the mission in Iraq, but I would submit that Beauchamp’s apparent fables and embellishments are not a “weak link” to be attacked, but simply an egregious example of the establishment media’s flawed coverage of the conflict.   Accordingly, what follows is an over view of the establishment media coverage of the conflict in Iraq.

Though public opinion polls consistently show that Americans consider Iraq to be the most important issue facing the country, establishment media has slashed the resources and time devoted to Iraq.  The number of embedded reporters plunged from somewhere between 570 and 750 when the invasion began in March 2003 to as few as nine by October 2006.  The result was the rise of what journalists themselves call “hotel journalism” and “journalism by remote control.”  Janet Reitman, reporting for Rolling Stone, described the state of the media in early 2004:

When I arrive in Baghdad in April, most American journalists are holed up in their rooms, reporting the war by remote: scanning the wires, working their cell phones, watching broadcasts of Al Jazeera. In many cases, they’ve been reduced to relying on sources available to anyone with an Internet connection…  While Arabic and European media such as The Guardian and Le Monde manage to cover the war on the ground, American reporters seldom interview actual Iraqis. Instead, they talk to U.S. officials who are every bit as isolated as they are, or rely on local stringers and fixers, several of whom have been killed while working for Americans. “We live in a bubble,” grumbles one AP reporter. “If we know one percent of what’s going on in Iraq, we’re lucky.”

There are exceptions of course, though the number of establishment embeds shows they are literally exceptions.  I do not discount the very real danger to Western journos in Iraq, though independent bloggers like Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, Bill Ardolino, and Michael J. Totten seem to have been able to embed outside Baghdad with nothing like the institutional support available to journalists from the establishment media… and that the number of such bloggers is growing.  Moreover, I cannot ignore the consequences of “journalism by remote control.”

Noah D. Oppenheim, who visited Baghdad for MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” noted that “The consequence of this system is that, on television, the story in Iraq is no more than the sum of basic facts, like casualties, crashes, and official pronouncements.”  The data back Oppenheim.  The television airtime devoted to coverage of Iraq has plunged dramatically.  Television networks devoted 4,162 minutes to Iraq in 2003, 3,053 minutes in 2004, 1,534 minutes in 2005 and 1,122 minutes in 2006.  The amount of time and space devoted to Iraq coverage has continued to decline through the first half of 2007.

Bad news stories, especially the daily death tolls, consumed an ever-larger share of this dwindling coverage.  In 2003, it consumed 38% of the networks’ Iraq newshole.  In 2004 and 2005, it consumed 44%.  In 2006, it rose to 56%.  James Q. Wilson observed in the Autumn 2006 City Journal:

When the Center for Media and Public Affairs made a nonpartisan evaluation of network news broadcasts, it found that during the active war against Saddam Hussein, 51 percent of the reports about the conflict were negative. Six months after the land battle ended, 77 percent were negative; in the 2004 general election, 89 percent were negative; by the spring of 2006, 94 percent were negative. This decline in media support was much faster than during Korea or Vietnam.

Nearly two-thirds (.pdf) of Americans still rely on network TV as their primary news source.  Thus, it is not surprising that by mid-2005, the Pew Research Center found that the “steady drip of negative news from Iraq” created a widespread awareness of the rising American death toll that was significantly undermining support for the US military operation.

The establishment media has developed ever more creative ways of reporting US casualties.  For example, in April 2007, the McClatchy newspaper chain reported that “March… marked the first time that the U.S. military suffered four straight months of 80 or more fatalities,” without any suggestion as to why the number 80 had any significance.  Indeed, the four prior months averaged over 80 casualties; they just weren’t as evenly distributed.

The establishment media also has become more willing to show graphic video of US casualties at the hands of the enemy.  CNN aired an insurgent sniper video obtained directly from the enemy.  The NYT posted video of a Marine being shot, reporting his death before his family could be contacted.  ABC News aired video of a Bradley armored vehicle blown up by an improvised explosive device as six American soldiers died inside, then exploited the grief of family members to attack the current “surge” of troops in Iraq.  Similarly, CBS News spiked a story containing video originally posted on an al Qaeda propaganda website, but posted the same video on its own website.  Throughout the conflict, the establishment media has shied away for the truly graphic images of the enemy beheading civilians.

Conversely, there are the stories “journalism by remote control” misses, or chooses not to cover.  As early as September 2003, establishment reporters admitted that “good news” stories were getting short shrift; three years later, nothing had changed.  If anything, by late 2006, the stories missed were getting larger.

Take, for example, the coverage of events in Anbar province.  In September-November 2006, the Washington Post ran a series of articles suggesting that the US military was unable to defeat the bloody insurgency in western Iraq “or counter al-Qaeda’s rising popularity there.”  These stories were echoed in the New York Times/International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, NBC News, ABC News, CNN, the AP and others, down to local TV.

But this was not the only picture of events in Anbar.  In “Will the Real Anbar Narrative Please Stand Up?”, Bill Ardolino juxtaposed the WaPo stories against analysis by bloggers and embedded reporters like the Times of London’s Martin Fletcher and Michael Fumento for the Weekly Standard.  Bill Roggio’s military and intelligence sources were angry over the media’s characterization of the secret reports cited by the WaPo.  Roggio examined how the claims made in the WaPo coverage were taken out of the larger context of events in Anbar.  Roggio and the Mudville Gazette’s “Greyhawk” charted the formation and rise of the Anbar Salvation Council — the alliance of 25 of the province’s 31 tribes in the fight against al Qaeda.  Roggio and Greyhawk followed up when the Anbar tribes got US air and artillery support — a development ignored by the establishment media.

We now know which narrative was more accurate.  Al Qaeda was not increasingly popular in Anbar.  To the contrary, the local tribes were overwhelmingly opposing and increasingly waging war against al Qaeda, with support from the US military.  Bloggers — carefully following and synthesizing information from their own sources, military information, embedded reporters, Arabic media and isolated stories in the establishment media over the course of a year — proved to be better remote journalists than those at the WaPo, NYT, CSM, AP, CNN, NBC and ABC (and any others I have overlooked).

Incidentally, as early as September 2004, Roggio had predicted the tribes would eventually turn on al-Qaeda.  This type of development is crucial to winning a war against an insurgency.  Popular support is key to the continuation of an insurgency; Mao Zedong famously advised his insurgents to “move through the people like a fish moves through water.”  Thus, the magnitude of the media’s failure to recognize the import of the rise of the Anbar Salvation Council — and its portrayal of Anbar province as lost — cannot be overstated.

Even now, generally antiwar media outlets are traveling throughout Iraq and revising their opinions.  The Guardian reports that violence is ebbing and wealth returning to parts of Iraq, Der Spiegel concludes that the “US Military is more successful in Iraq than the world wants to believe,” and even Salon’s correspondent concedes that parts of Iraq actually seem to be getting better.  The establishment media still remains largely confined to quarters in Baghdad.

The other major Iraq story of the period was Pres. Bush’s decision to “surge” US troops in hopes of bringing down escalating sectarian violence.  The establishment media’s coverage was less than subtle.  In December 2006, before the decision was made, NBC News was claiming that it was a “lose-lose” proposition for Pres. Bush.  On January 7, 2007, the WaPo reported on the “growing skepticism inside and outside the administration” over the proposal.  NBC News assembled a panel on the surge composed solely of experts hostile to it. 

When Pres. Bush announced the surge, the poll numbers supporting it increased, but the establishment media — especially CBS –focused almost entirely on negative reaction to it.  If civilian casualties went down, it was because death squads decided to lie low, not because so many militia leaders were detained.  Any increase in US casualties — which would be expected from a strategy that put the troops in among the local population and was more aggressive in going after terrorists — would “cast doubt” on the surge, with CNN International launching a similar attack during a report on soldiers being honored for their valor.  A June terror attack on a Baghdad hotel “was a blow struck against the US plan.”  The August terror bombing of the Yazidis came “just as the American military is claiming the troop surge is making real progress,” and ”dealt a serious blow to the Bush administration’s hopes of presenting a positive picture in a progress report on Iraq.”  The NYT claimed the plan was falling short of its goals in July, and so on.

The reality — at least at the moment — is that the new counter-insurgency strategy has turned the trendline of civilian casualties downward for the first time since (semi-)reliable data has been available. 

When the “surge” of troops into Iraq was completed in June 2007, MNF-Iraq launched the largest offensive since the first phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom ended in the spring of 2003.  Operation Phantom Thunder included operations not only in Baghdad, but also in the “belts” surrounding the capital, as well as in Diyala, southern Salahadin, northern Babil and eastern Anbar provinces. The fighting was most intense in Baqubah, the provincial capital of Diyala (a/k/a Operation Arrowhead Ripper).

Bill Roggio had reported that the US military was laying the groundwork for the Diyala campaign as far back as April 2007, adding that it would not kick into full gear until the full compliment of US forces were deployed into Iraq in late May or early June.

In contrast, the establishment media was caught flat-footed when this massive operation was launched.  Embedded blogger Michael Yon’s dispatch after the first day of battle noted that he and NYT reporter Michael Gordon seemed to be the only media in Baqubah. Yon’s next dispatch noted that he and Gordon had been joined by the L.A. Times, CNN, AP and Joe Klein from Time magazine.  However, the AP would “stay only a few days”; Klein helicoptered in and out the same day.  By July 5th, the media would consist of Yon and two others; two days later it would be Yon and a photographer.

The Columbia Journalism Review noted that the L.A. Times was the only major paper to put the launch of the operation on page one and that CNN was the only notable television coverage of the battle.  Operation Arrowhead Ripper made events in Iraq the second-biggest Big Media story that week – and the top story on television — yet very few journalists were actually there.

Among the stories from Baqubah almost entirely missed by establishment media was the US military’s discovery of mass graves in a neraby village.  Michael Yon photographed and videotaped Iraqi and US soldiers disinterring the remains of adults and children.  The media generally ignored the story, even after Yon offered map coordinates, names of Iraqi and US Army officials, his photographs and videotape, and ultimately permission to use his reports free of charge.  The AP’s Director of Media Relations first claimed that it was not reporting the story because the Iraqi police and US military had not issued a press release about it — even though the AP had Special Correspondent Robert Reid in Baqubah.  The AP then reported the story out of Baghdad, based on vague details supplied by a local stringer who Yon had interviewed.  Ultimately, the AP gave the story bigger play, using Yon’s material — ten days after the atrocity was discovered.

This last example highlights the risks posed by remote journalism’s reliance on local stringers and fixers.  Western journalists in Iraq are likely to not speak the language or know the culture in depth.  News consumers, however, have no idea how the establishment media vets the locals they entrust to translate or relay the events they ostensibly cover.  The risk of relying on biased stringers and fixers is heightened where (as here) the country in question has long been torn by religious and ethnic strife.  A few more examples show this dynamic has unfolded in Iraq.

On November 15, 2006 the L.A. Times reported the claims of locals that a US airstrike killed at least 30 people in Ramadi (including women and children). A Times correspondent in Ramadi said at least 15 homes were pulverized by aerial bombardment.  By other accounts, those killed were adult males, killed by fire from tanks.  The paper never printed the US military’s denial of an airstrike.  The LAT stringer was accused of having ties to the insurgency by someone purporting to be a US soldier; soldiers stationed in Ramadi claimed the airstrike was a complete fabrication.  Investigating the incident, the blogger Patterico found that people with experience in Iraq noted that al Qaeda either pays off, intimidates, or has sympathizers among many doctors in Iraq and that reports from doctors and “local residents” were highly suspect, as they rarely report males being killed.  The LAT ultimately backed off the claims in its original story, but readers never learned whether the stringer had ties to the insurgency.

In October 2005, there was an airstrike near Ramadi, but the reports from the locals were disputed by the US military.  The story was datelined to Baghdad, but a photograph was taken by Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi stringer working for the AP.  Bilal Hussein grew up in Falluja; in November 2004, an AP reporter interviewed him about his escape from Falluja, which was then under attack from US Marines.  Seemingly staged photos Hussein provided to the AP and Reuters in October 2005 were identified at the Sir Humphrey’s blog.  The National Journal reported that in September 2005, Bilal Hussein provided the AP with images that may have been created for the photographer.  Moreover, the National Journal piece on fauxtography suggests that Santiago Lyon, the AP’s director of photography, is not particularly concerned about staged photos, so long as the photographer does not instigate them (and he apparently asssumes that they do not).

Bilal Hussein — and Lyon — were no strangers to controversy.  In 2004, Bilal Hussein photographed three terrorists in the act of assassinating two Iraqi election workers on Haifa Street. The AP’s Lyon admitted that Hussein was “tipped off” by the terrorists about a “demonstration that was supposed to take place on Haifa Street.” The AP was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for these photos, though former New York Times photographer D. Gorton reviewed the various stories the AP told about the incident and found them “confusing and at times contradictory” and that “there is nothing in the information put forward that would definitively answer critics who believe that the photographer may have been complicit in the event on Haifa St.”  Gorton added:

What is clear is that the photograph, in the editor’s own words, fitted into an editorial view that portrayed Iraq as ungovernable and chaotic. Thus, it tended to confirm that notion, to the AP’s readers, just months before the highly successful election.

In April 2006, Bilal Hussein was detained by the US military as a security threat with “strong ties to known insurgents.”  The AP later reported:

The military said Hussein was captured with two insurgents, including Hamid Hamad Motib, an alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. “He has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and other attacks on coalition forces,” according to a May 7 e-mail from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jack Gardner, who oversees all coalition detainees in Iraq.

Hussein’s case has been reviewed at least three times; he remains in detention.

In April 2005, a CBS stringer was arrested as a suspected insurgent.  CBS revealed the man was referred to the network by a “fixer” in Tikrit — Saddam Hussein’s hometown and an insurgent stronghold — “who has had a trusted relationship with CBS News for two years.”  The stringer was ultimately acquitted, but was detained for a year after an investigative judge decided there was enough evidence to recommend the case be tried.  One would hope that the establishment media would have a higher standard for its employees than “not convicted as an insurgent.”

Similar problems arise even in the context of the establishment media’s police sources.  The best-known example is that of Baghdad Police Capt. “Jamil Hussein” the pseudonymous source for over 60 AP stories, most of which were not corroborated by other press accounts, many of which occurred outside the jurisdictions to which he was assigned, and at least two of which were debunked by bloggers.  The AP, by spinning the case as one of whether the source existed, never acknowledged that he was pseudonymous, in violation of the AP’s own policies.  Nor did the AP directly confront the falsity of his stories of destroyed mosques.

“Jamil Hussein,” however, is not the only police source to have supplied dubious stories to the establishment media. In June 2007, the AP and Reuters ran stories claiming that 20 decapitated bodies had been found in a village southeast of Baghdad.  The stories were based on anonymous police sources in Baghdad (15 miles away) and Kut (75 miles away).  The wire services retracted the stories after they were questioned by blogger Bob Owens.  In August 2007, the wire services in Baghdad reported that 60 people were massacred in Baqubah, but Maj. Rob Parke says that no such bodies were found after days of investigation.

The case of The New Republic’s “Baghdad Diarist” is a variation on this theme.  As Bob Steele, the Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values at The Poynter Institute school for journalists, told USA Today, Scott Beauchamp’s pseudonymity allowed him to make accusations against others with impunity and to sidestep essential accountability that would exist, were he identified.

The risks of remote journalism are amplified by the danger of groupthink.  At its worst, accesss to the same small set of primary (and perhaps dubious) sources can result in the lead story of The New York Times being cobbled together “out of wire reports and late-night recollections from exhausted correspondents.”  Moreover, as Oppenheim observed, “(m)ost journalists did not support this war to begin with, and feel vindicated whenever the effort stumbles.”  Bartle Bull, who has written about Iraq for the New York Times and lived with a family in Sadr City, went so far as to suggest that the errors of hotel journalism were not those of laziness as much as a “weirdly personal” obsession with the notion that Iraq must fail.  I am generally loathe to attribute to malice that which may be explained by incompetence, but it is possibile that both influence the coverage of Iraq.

The establishment media’s attitude toward the invasion manifested itself — until quite recently — in the frequent invocation of Vietnam as an analogy. As ABC News would later concede, questions about a Vietnam-style “quagmire” haunted the president’s Iraq policy since before a single bomb fell on Baghdad. CNN and the L.A. Times were among those doing the questioning, as was CBS News correspondent Bob Simon, who told USA Today that he opposed any invasion of Iraq back in October 2002.

Within the opening days of the invasion, the Baltimore Sun was claiming that “This war in its early stages recalls the pitched battles and bloody skirmishes of the Vietnam War,” while New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd found it “hard not to have a few acid flashbacks to Vietnam at warp speed.” Barely a week into the operation, ABC’s Peter Jennings and CBS’s Lesley Stahl had invoked the Vietnam quagmire, while NBC’s Today Show invited The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh on air a few days later to contend that “it’s never too early” to roll out the Vietnam analogy.  The Scripps-Howard News Service warned that saddam Hussein’s “strategy was to drag America into a Vietnam quagmire.”

After Coalition forces toppled Saddam, the trend only intensified.  John Watson, assistant professor of communications at American University, told the CSM that media skepticism set in more quickly than in Vietnam, beginning with the occupation phase and coinciding with reporters leaving the embedded media program — which is what the aforementioned CMPA study showed as well.  In June, CBS’s Bob Schieffer and others were asking whether the US was involved in a “guerrilla war” in Iraq.  By October 2003, former WaPo reporter David Maraniss was insisting that “the echoes are immense” between Iraq and Vietnam on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews.  On November 14, 2003, Reuters ran a piece headlined, “US War Dead in Iraq Exceeds Early Vietnam Years,” burying deep within the story the fact that the US presence in Vietnam was tiny for the first four years of its involvement, as compared to the force in Iraq.

President Bush was asked directly about the Vietnam “quagmire” analogy by the establishment media again and again and again.  From the outset of the invasion through mid-July 2007, the TV networks each aired hundreds of stories containing the Iraq-Vietnam comparison; CNN, the NYT and the WaPo have done thousands of them apiece.  The AP has compared Pres. Bush’s rhetoric with that of LBJ, the bad intelligence on Iraqi WMDs with the Gulf of Tonkin, and the Haditha killings with My Lai.  Combined with the ever-increasing percentage of stories devoted to the daily death tolls, the message being conveyed by the establishment media was unmistakable.

It might be asked why the establishment media resorted so early and so often to the Vietnam “quagmire” analogy, and so rarely challenged the subjects of their coverage  who invoked it.  The specious Reuters story aside, US casualties in Iraq have been lighter in Iraq than in Vietnam.  At Slate, even after engaging is some very dubious body count inflation — giving terrorists extra credit for each US soldier killed due to improvements in medical treatment and force protection since Vietnam — Phillip Carter and Owen West came up with an imaginary 2,975 comabt deaths in Iraq during 2004, compared to 4,602 real combat deaths during 1966 in Vietnam.

Nor does the analogy hold for civilian casualties.  In Vietnam, the civilian death rate was about 400 per 100,000 per year.  In Iraq, it has been about 150 per 100,000 people per year.  Moreover, only about ten percent of the deaths in Iraq have been caused by US troops. Controlling for population and duration, Iraqi civilian fatalities from direct US action and crossfire through the end of 2006 were 17–30 times lower than those from bombing and shelling in Vietnam.

There have been no comparisons of enemy casualties, largely due to the establishment media’s Vietnam Syndrome.  Indeed, when Pres. Bush mentioned that in October, November and the first week of December 2006, Coalition forces killed or captured nearly 5,900 of the enemy, ABC’s Martha Raddatz grilled White House press secretary Tony Snow about it.  Reuters and the WaPo were quick to remind readers that the practice of giving enemy body counts “was discredited during the Vietnam war.”

To be fair, military commanders will say that enemy body counts are of limited use in measuring success against an insurgency.  However, WaPo national security blogger William Arkin was alarmed over a “return to a Vietnam-mentality body count system” when the DoD put out a request for proposals to develop “a system of metrics to accurately assess US progress in the War on Terrorism and identify critical issues hindering progress.” The request never mentioned enemy body counts, let alone require that they be a metric of success.  Given the ongoing debate over whether US policy is creating more terrorists than it is killing, it is odd that the establishment media would be against taking such measurements.  This complete aversion is at least partially rooted in myths about invincible guerrillas and insurgents — myths that US Naval War College Professor Donald Stoker argues are a direct result of America’s collective misunderstanding of its defeat in South Vietnam.

Moreover, as Prof. Stoker noted in the January 2007 issue of Foreign Policy, history shows that insurgents rarely win, though victory over an insurgency usually requires a decade, on average.  A Dupuy Institute study for the DoD showed that even post-World War II insurgencies lost 60% of the time. Of course, each conflict is unique, and the differences are as important as the similarities.  Yet this only underscores the problem of the establishment media perpetuating the single case of Vietnam to frame its “big picture” of the conflict in Iraq.

It could be argued that the media suffers from Vietnam Syndrome because civilian Americans in general tend to lack an understanding of military matters, or because academia tended to lose interest in military history in a nuclear, post-Vietnam era.  But even an establishment media dominated by the Boomer generation that came of age during Vietnam knows that Vietnam was not the end of history. 

In December 2005, the NYT published a chart showing that the casualties from the conflict in Iraq pale in comparison to the Afghan civil war of 1978-2002, the tribal conflict in Rawanda that lasted a mere three months in 1994, the ethnic war in Bosnia from 1992-95, the ongoing mass killing in the Darfur region of Sudan, the Nicaraguan civil war of 1978-90 and — perhaps most telling — the internal sectarian and ethnic violence waged by Saddam Hussein against his fellow Iraqis between 1988-91 (even excluding the Iraq-Iran war).  That the establishment media was content to frame the conflict in Iraq as a replay of Vietnam in the face of this data suggests that the establishment media has been operating with a great deal of groupthink.

Perhaps the most telling expression of the media’s hive mind on Iraq, however, may have come last week, when Pres. Bush gave a major speech on Iraq which included his own Vietnam analogies.  Though Pres. Bush spent more time in his speech comparing aspects of the Iraq conflict to the US experience with postwar Japan and with South Korea, the establishment media has a visceral — and near-unanimously negative — reaction against his references to Vietnam. 

The most absurd reaction had to be that of the NYT, which exclamed that Pres. Bush’s “decision to inject Vietnam into the debate over Iraq was bizarre” — this from a paper which has run roughly 3,000 stories with the comparison and which used the word “quagmire” to describe Iraq in the very same sentence.  The paper’s ostensibly straight news coverage sounded the theme common in most of the establishment media, “Historians Question Bush’s Reading of Lessons of Vietnam War for Iraq.”  The major television networks all advanced that theme, soliciting quotes from liberal historians like Douglas Brinkley (the biographer of Bush’s 2004 opponent, Sen. John Kerry), Stanley Karnow (longtime friend of the late North Vietnamese spy Pham Xuan An, who worked for both Time and Reuters) and Robert Dallek (whose Bush Derangement Syndrome was on full display earlier this month in the Washington Post).  The Times of London was able to find historians who agreed with Pres. Bush’s general points; somehow, the establishment media in the US missed them.  Conversely, the media apparently forgot to solicit quotes from the historians now pooh-poohing Vietnam analogies during the years in which the media ran thousands of stories using Vietnam analogies.

The establishment media’s other major theme was to suggest that Pres. Bush was hypocritical for raising a Vietnam analogy after years of rejecting such comparisons.  These media giants were seemingly unaware that Pres. Bush had made similar remarks in October 2005 and April 2007.  Moreover, the suggestion of hypocrisy is an ad hominem attack on Bush, rather than a criticism of the validity of his current argument.

A lesser media theme was the suggestion by historian David C. Hendrickson in the NYT — echoed by David Shuster on MSNBC — that the US was actually to blame for the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia  — as opposed to blaming North Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodian territory from 1965 onwards to launch attacks on US and South Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam.

The L.A. Times suggested that the “real lesson of Vietnam is that its civil war was a nationalist struggle that toppled no communist ‘dominoes’ across Asia.”  But Lee Kuan Yew,  prime minister of Singapore in 1975, argued that the domino theory would have held true had the US not intervened in Vietnam.  And while glossing over the horrors of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the L.A. Times also managed to entirely miss the nation of Laos, a/k/a the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

In short, the establishment media response to Pres. Bush’s Vietnam analogies ignored the ongoing historical debate over the cause of the horrors following the US withdrawal from Vietnam and favored an ad hominem claim of hypocrisy over an examination of the merits of Bush’s claims.  The establishment media’s newfound hostility to Vietnam analogies tends to confirm the claims of reporters like Oppenheim and Bull that most establishment journalists are obsessed with the notion that the US must fail in Iraq and feel vindicated whenever the effort stumbles.

At this juncture, just to anticipate what more unhinged readers may want to read into this essay, I emphasize that I am not alleging some sort of conspiracy is involved in these phenomena.  A conspiracy involves an agreement among those involved.  The flaws in the establishment media’s Iraq coverage do not arise from some secret agreement but from their preexisting prejudices, misconceptions or ignorance of military history and theory, journalistic biases toward bad news, economic constraints, and so on.

Thus, as a supporter of the mission, I feel no need to discredit all of the bad news coming out of Iraq.  I do note that all of the bad news coming out of Iraq is nowhere near the bad news that came out of Vietnam, despite thousands of news stories invoking that conflict.   I also note that all of the bad news coming out of Iraq is nowhere near the bad news that came out of other recent conflicts.  It is particularly worth noting that all of the bad news coming out of Iraq is nowhere near the bad news that could have come out of Saddam-era Iraq, had ex-CNN news chief Eason Jordan not suppressed that news and recycled Saddam’s agitprop.  Eason Jordan later resigned from CNN after he baselessly accused US troops of targeting journalists in Iraq — a claim challenged at the time by US Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), but not by the establishment media.

While on the subject, we could apply Vietnam analogies to the establishment media’s performance on Iraq.  In Vietnam, Time and Reuters hired a North Vietnamese spy to cover the war; in Iraq, the establishment media has hired stringers with alleged ties to insurgents and run dubious stories and staged photographs they provided.  In Vietnam, none of the networks made any effort to train their people to comprehend military matters; there was little incentive to learn the language, with the result that most correspondents were isolated from the Vietnamese, their culture, and their problems.  In Iraq, journalists are isolated from most people outside their hotel accomodations in Baghdad.  In Vietnam, the media consensus was that the Tet offensive was an “unmitigated defeat” for the United States; Walter Cronkite would claim the US was “mired in stalemate.”  Even the NYT now concedes that Tet “was a military defeat for the Communist guerrillas and their North Vietnamese sponsors.”  Yet in Iraq, the establishment media missed the seeds of the counter-insurgency in Anbar province, the loss of popular support for the jihadis and the biggest battle of the second biggest offensive of the conflict.  Moreover, the establishment media has continued to suggest that this or that individual terror attack “casts doubt” on the current strategy, even as civilian casualties decrease.

Of course, there are differences as well.  The establishment media turned negative on Iraq much faster than it did in Vietnam (or Korea), with much less justification.  In the Vietnam era, Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America, while the phrase “credibility gap” was popularized to describe public skepticism about the Johnson administration’s statements and policies on the Vietnam War.  Today, most Americans believe the establishment media is often inaccurate and more are confident that the US military is providing an accurate picture of Iraq than are confident of the establishment media.

In sum, most Americans do not trust the establishment media coverage of Iraq.  Journalists, including those from establishment media, point out the chronic and systemic problems with their work.  Yet in some circles, for whatever reason, it is criticism of the establishment media’s Iraq coverage which is seen as odd, rather than the coverage itself.

Posted by Karl @ 9:19am
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Comments (216)

  1. What an effort — brilliant. Go get a cup of whatever and kick back (put on the Good Shoes record) and take a half-hour off.

  2. Of course, be prepared for the lefties to summarize thusly — “Karl blames the media for the US losing the war in Iraq.”

  3. Well said, Karl. Of course, you are just a warmongering bloodforoil hater of the brown people, so they will simply dismiss what you have said, or not read it, and argue against their mental perception of what they think you would have said.

    Personally, I love how the media got all atwitter when President Bush used an accurate Viet Nam analogy, after they have been using inaccurate Viet Nam analogies since the sandstorm in the first few days of the war.

  4. Brilliant, informative, and surprisingly concise. Too bad it will be dismissed as “BLAME TEH MEDIA!”

  5. You’re right on Karl. In my neck of the woods, the Knight Ridder/Mclatchy
    chain has gone even beyond the NY Times in its outreach to the enemy. Around April of that year, a small item in the local ‘alternative’:marxist
    publication, the New Times, interviewed a BBC bureau chief in Miami, which
    pointed out that Knight Ridder did the most graphic photographs against the
    war while the NY Times did the most aboveboard anti-war copy. Around May of that year, came the imbeds with the insurgents in Baqubah and points West; listening to the same lines that Reed had heard with Lenin, Matthews
    with Fidel, Bonner with the FMLN etc; our struggle is right, the Americans
    will be defeated. Yadda Yadda et al. Not long after this came the Plame saga with no corrections for facts By the fall, around October, came the first of the leaks from the Aardwolf cables, saying there was an insurgency
    but not describing any identifying details. It turns out the leaker; Baghdad station chief John Maguire was leaking not only to Knight Ridder but to David Corn at the Nation; one of the promulgators of the Plame myth.
    All the while, Joe Galloway, was forgetting the importance of the battles that he saw first hand; forty years before in the LaDrang Valley. On the Op Ed pages it was a virtual onslaught of left opinion from 9/11 truthist
    fmr CIA analyst Ray McGovern, wacky former NSA Chavez groupie Wayne Madsen.
    Pat Buchanan (who knew there so many Buchanan supporters in Dade County;
    accessory to Adm. Boorda’s suicide David Hackworth, et al. There was former
    Navy intel officer who was in support of the war on the Op Ed page, Paul Crespo, but he was eventually asked to leave. When Saddam was finally captured, they had a column predicting it would change nothing. Their chief foreign policy analyst, Trudy Rubin, President Clinton’s favorite
    reporter, and a top kool aid drinker of the Arafat line; (it turns out she sees the Arab Israeli conflict through the perspective of the Irish/Jewish conflict in Boston; By the spring of that year, they played the whole Richard Clark and Paul O’Neil publicity tour without any convenient contradiction. They put the Fallujah four atrocities on full color, but with the angle that argued that we ought to leave? forgetting the lessons of Beirut and Mogadishu.

  6. Great stuff, Karl, as usual. The Compendium. I’d call that performance magisterial.

  7. the weak link analogy is so inapt.

    A link is part and parcel of a chain and is substantially identical to all other links. It has to be since every link carries the same load as all of the others. A weak link is any link that cannot carry the same load as all of the other links. Effectively meaning that while it does it’s intended job, it just doesn’t do it as well as all of the other links.

    Now those kinds of jounalists do exist. Those kinds of individuals exist in every single human endeavor. They try and try to do it right, but just don’t measure up.

    But STB didn’t just do his job poorly, he didn’t even try to do his job correctly. He made stuff up and tried to pass it off as firsthand accounts of the truth.

    That’s not journalism that’s fabulism. Unless the critics defending STB are willing to admit that making stuff up is an accepted part of journalism then they need to stop referring to STB as a link in their chain.

  8. Great stuff, Karl. I emailed the link around to a few folks.

  9. Interesting timing on this piece, Jeff. The trial of Phillippe Karsenty is happening in France in a couple weeks. He is the media investigator who has taken on the Mohammed Al-Durrah fabrication that literally fueled some of the greatest acts of terrorism against Jews in recent years. This video is a proven fake, as are so many of the Palestinian “atrocities”. (The Palestinans have become the most professional and adept victims on this earth).

    But I think media complicity and the conscious effort of reporters and pundits to influence has introduced complexity to bringing justice and resolution in otherwise fairly straightforward cases of good versus evil. How many events like the Al-Durrah staging have been cynically introduced into our collective narrative? How do you neutralize the feedback loops after the original event is thoroughly repudiated?

    This battlefront is critical and I endorse your efforts, Jeff, in fighting to reclaim ownership of words, of the narrative and a commitment to the moral imperative and authority of objective truth.

    I think

  10. I appreciate that, Mitchell, but in this case, you have Karl to thank for his tireless work pulling all these strands together into a great big lynching rope.

  11. Wonderful post. I’ve highlighted it as a must read link.

  12. Excellent, Karl.
    Now, how to make rigourous reporting and integrity PAY.

  13. Up at LGF now .

  14. Excellent piece, Karl.

  15. Excellent post Karl, well done.

  16. Good work!

  17. Judas Maude, Karl. Nice job.

  18. A magnificent effort, Karl. You’ve raised the bar with this one.

    I think even Matt Yglesias would have difficulty pulling a paragraph out of this that he could use to dismiss the entire dissertation as “banal”. Of course, I’ve understimated him before…

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  20. Great post. Great research. Bravo.

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  22. Karl, that shit was bananas!

  23. Why grant the “establishment media” any credit for honorable intentions? For decades now, Howell Raines’ ranting anti-Americanism –not a figurative but literal depiction, explicitly cited in Raines’ representative Manchester Guardian interview– has condoned foreseeable genocide, resounded with depraved indifference to human suffering. “Establishment media” are not anti-war but but anti-democracy: Against free enterprise, free speech, free anything.

    Think of them as “totes”, not “liberals” (sic): In the tote-bag of Lenin and Stalin, Hitler, Mao and legions of camp followers (Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il-sung, Castro, Pol Pot… the list goes on).

    T.S. Eliot, Eric Hoffer, von Hayek and many another have described the warped and narcissistic personalities that lend themselves to Orwell’s sensibilities. All exhibit the same deep-seated character flaws. Avoid media prevaricators and their back-stabbing ilk at all costs: From copperhead “Peace Democrats” of 1864 to Chamberlain’s appeasers of the 1930s, to vicious McGovernite sellouts through 1974 and now today, these callous, craven, blank-faced ideologues have embraced slavery in every guise that comes to hand.

  24. Wow, this should be required reading for everyone being spoon fed by the MSM. Excellent, well supported, well referenced, piece. If the others in the blogosphere would make a commitment to the truth like you then the Internet would be a very different place. Keep up the good work!

  25. Karl, an excellent piece. I am surprised the Koz Kidz haven’t attacked it by now. They must be down for their afternoon nap. It is so tough in Kindergarten these days.

  26. Great job, Karl. Terrific stuff. So good, perhaps, that you just may have to be outed as teh ghey. It’s all they have left.

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  28. Kudos to you, Karl. An excellent piece. Pssttt….And I was against the war, too. But, you highlighted all the disingenuous bullshit that the anti-Bush (make no mistake, for most of those fucks, it wasn’t the war, it was Bush) brigade vomited up. Great job

  29. I thoroughly enjoyed that.

  30. Great job, Karl.

  31. Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 08/29/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  32. Very well-done, Karl. linked.

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  34. Incredible.

    This post is like a one stop library of resources to back up an argument that the media is just not doing its job in Iraq.

    I counted 152 links embedded in it…

    I blogged it, then bookmarked it.

  35. This is a great piece, thank you for your excellent effort Karl.

  36. Karl:

    Standing Ovation

    Beautifully and clearly written, wonderfully sourced. Outstanding in every way!

    Let the troll ‘lanch begin…

    Jeff, unlike any other independant blogger I can think of, you are blessed with the highest level of guest commentar; thinkers and writers without peer. The pub has made that plain and recent posts by ric locke, Dan and now Karl just solidify the observation.

    After all that you’ve been through, you are still one lucky guy.

  37. So, who nominates Karl for a Pulitzer? Outstanding, Karl.

  38. Get that man some CAKE!

    Bravo Zulu, sir.

    I think I’ll wade through the meds and dust off the dinosaur.

  39. Oh, please. My head is already ginormous as is. Except for Pablo’s crack about the Pulitzer — who wants to travel in that crowd?

  40. …and I just added another link.

    Now I must have a soda.

  41. “Let the troll ‘lanch begin…”

    Don’t see it , that’s a mighty big , heavy , freakin hammer .

  42. “Don’t see it , that’s a mighty big , heavy , freakin hammer .”

    Come on Bill, most of these trolls are too dumb to know when NOT to pick a fight (argument in this case). Someone will venture where they don’t belong.

  43. Excellent work, Karl. Thank you. Quite frankly, I see this post as being ignored by the left-leaning toadies, Townhouse style. Starve it of oxygen and all.

  44. Bill D. Cat,

    The trolls will not touch this with a ten foot pole. Rather, they will not try and offer any counter arguments. They will, However, Say that it to long, unreadable, incomprehensible, and even worse……boring.

    Karl,

    Great job! This should be required reading for everybody.

  45. Wow, just wow. Excellent work.

  46. Pingback: Media Mythbusters Blog » Blog Archive » The Big Picture - Media Bias Up Close and Personal

  47. BORING! TOO MANY WORDS! TOO MANY LINKS!

    I can say this in one sentence; IRAQ IS LOST! WORSE FOREIGN POLICY MISTAKE SINCE THE JEWS HOLED UP IN MASADA! That’s right, I watch a movie every now and again! They committed suicide just like our country’s civil liberties are throwing themselves from the rooftops of the bushburtonchimpymcemperor’s corporate imperialistic headquarters FOR EXPLOITING AND SLAUGHTERING PEACEFUL BROWN PEOPLE!!

    But you guys will read 550 paragraphs with 8 gazillion links to convince yourselves that the MSM is to blame.

    IT’S BUSHHITLER! HE’S TO BLAME! AND HIS LITTLE CHENEY TOO! ROVE!

    See how I could do that in a few short sentences? Any more and I would be boring myself!

    Now all of you ‘thuglican winghawk chickennuts just shrivel up and DIE!

  48. Simple fabulous.

    A blogging bitch slap to the MSM so deftly administered.

  49. Wow, a hail of Little Green Footballs and trackbacks all around. Good job.

  50. Nice job Karl. But you know that we are only in Iraq to steal their oill.

  51. Hey my little sarcasm xml tag didn’t show up.

  52. Hi Karl – Media Mythbusters – http://www.mediamythbusters.com/blog/ would like to reprint this in full with attribution. Let us know. info AT mediamythbusters.com Simply awesome work.

  53. Damn, just damn. Excellent work, everyone (especially the journos) should read this.

  54. Wow…that’s good…very, very good in fact.

  55. mishu:

    You want to type a tag, you gots to do it like this:

    </tag>

    For the opening angle bracket, type ;tl& (backwards) and for the close, type ;tg& backwards.

    Here’s clicking the “Say It!” button and hoping it worked…

  56. Karl,

    I’d say you knocked one of the park, but in truth you demolished the wall & possibly the next 3 blocks. Good on you, again!!!

  57. Fantastic. Absolutely overwhelming in it’s detail and depth. Anyone who thinks that TV or newspapers have any credibility left when it comes to Iraq War reporting needs to read this.

  58. Thing is, Kevin, he ought to unpack this at book length.

  59. Pingback: Le monde à l’envers » Media bias: un récap complet

  60. My trackback didn’t take for some reason, so I’ll just be a linkslut in comments instead.

  61. 65 comments or so in, and no word yet from the trolls?

    What’s your secret, Karl?

    Anyway, thanks to you and Dan for picking up the slack — and drawing more traffic than I ever could. When I read this last night, I knew I could take some time off today and hook up some speakers, clean my office, rearrange some furniture, watch the Rockies game, and set up the cordless surround sound headphones in my bedroom.

    All of which I’ve accomplished — though my son is freaking out because I moved a wingback chair from the office to the bedroom.

    3-year olds don’t like change, evidently.

  62. My pleasure, but though so far my post has drawn more comments, it’s not even within two standards of deviation close to Karl’s.

    These ought to console him.

  63. “65 comments or so in, and no word yet from the trolls?

    What’s your secret, Karl?”

    Apparently, the unwillingness to leave any stone unturned.

    Is it 153 links now, or did I lose count somewhere between 140 and 153?

  64. Ok. I read the whole thing and comments. It is after 4:00. I say that cause my first comment is the one some of you know I would have made at a glance.

    It bears mentioning that NPR could not be included in this critique due to their refusal to make transcripts available online. And I would submit that the desire to be overlooked as their peers are justifiably skewered is what drives their decision.

  65. omment by Jeff G. on 8/29 @ 3:59 pm #

    65 comments or so in, and no word yet from the trolls?

    What’s your secret, Karl?

    Not to worry. Somewhere there’s a prog. googling like a weasel on crack.

  66. Oh. And good job Karl.

  67. Great work, Karl. This is the Mother of All Blog Posts. You have the material for an award-winning history book here.

  68. For example, as the MSM was no longer able to ignore mounting evidence of Iran’s destabilizing and murderous campaign in Iraq, our friends at NPR devote a week to hailing it as a regional superpower.

    “It’s stunningly true that Iran has been the great geopolitical victor of American sacrifice in war,” Norton says.

  69. Here is another example of the media selectively rejecting Vietnam analogies:

    “People say often: torture and abuse have taken place in every war. And it’s true, if you look at My Lai or some of the incidents in Vietnam that were horrific.

    “But the difference now is that this is codified. There have been allowances made for these things to occur.”

  70. :-O Whoa. Karl. Dude.

    Cue leftmorons claiming the carefully clicked every link, pored over every nuance, and have something better.

    Overall grade: A -
    So long, informative and watertight, I now hate my life by comparison.

  71. If I recall correctly, for the first three years of the Vietnam War (from February 1965 until Tet in February 1968) the MSM was largely pro-war. I think there is a largely unrecognized factor that turned it around.

    In the fall of 1967, about the time serious anti-war feeling was beginning to emerge in the United States, the Johnson administration launched a media blitz to convince the country that we were winning and the enemy was on the ropes. This started in about August or September 1967 and continued until Tet. For the most part, the MSM uncritically reported the administration line.

    Then came Tet.

    While Tet ultimately ended in a major allied victory, the offensive stood as irrefutable evidence that the enemy was not on the ropes in the fall of 1967 and that he had a lot more support, fight, and staying power than anyone immagined.

    I suspect that reporters covering the story at the time felt that they had been had by the Johnson Administration and started distrusting its narrative as a result.

    That, however, was the least of it.

    Early on in their careers, journalists tend to develop a world view. They tend to spend the rest of their careers writing the news in a manner consistent with that world view. (This is a major limitation of journalism, but I’m not sure it is possible to do things differently if one is to spend 40 years writing first drafts of history.)

    The reporters who went to Vietnam in 1965 for the most part had world views that were shaped by WW2 and Korea. This is true even of the younger ones.

    Tet not only shattered the Johnson Administration’s portrait of progress in Vietnam, it shattered the press’ world view. Eventually reporters developed a new one, largely informed by the narrative of the American anti-war movement, Marxist warts and blame America first and all. That latter world view remains largely intact to this day.

    With regard to Vietnam, the irony is that the press’ old world view prevented it from seeing that the enemy was a more formidable foe than it first assumed, while its post-Tet world view prevented it from seeing the real military progress that was made both by the U.S. and South Vietnamese militaries between 1968 and 1973.

    With regard to Iraq, the press’ post Tet world view has resulted in it viewing the entire war through the (post-Tet) Vietnam lens, which is producing a grotesquely distorted view of what is happening in Iraq and the war on terror generally. I suspect that this world view also leaves a number of reporters highly uncomfortable when the contemplate the prospect of an American victory. The post-Tet world view suggests that an American victory would be morally wrong. Worse, it would require the press to changed its world view again, which is the single hardest thing to do in journalism.

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  74. I suspect that this world view also leaves a number of reporters highly uncomfortable when the contemplate the prospect of an American victory.

    Nonono. Despondent and enraged. It frightens the Democrats and the media to conceive of a future that includes the indignity of supporting a free Iraq.

    “This was his decision to go to war with an ill-conceived plan and an incompetently executed strategy,” the Democratic
    senator from New York said her in initial presidential campaign swing through Iowa.

    “We expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office” in Jan 2009, the former first lady said. (link to follow)

    It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush’s plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost. – New York Times editorial

    Biden pointed to the turmoil that accompanied the end of the Vietnam War, with Americans plucked from the roof of the U.S. Embassy as enemy troops poured into Saigon. He said Bush wants to avoid such a stain on the end of his presidency.

    “They would not be the ones who would have to deal with the reality of picking people up off the roofs of the embassy,” said Biden, a Delaware senator and presidential candidate.

  75. http://www.china*daily.com.cn/world/2007-01/29/content_794980.htm

    the filter hates this link – it’s for the Clinton quote above (take out the asterisk)

  76. 1) Karl, magnificent effort, 153-point combo, fatality, flawless victory, etc.

    I wish I had the attention span to do all that (still, I used to create link farms for online debates but the other guy would always blink twice and go right back to his starting point).

    2) Don’t even mention the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is NPR. Every NPR listener I know lives solidly in a paranoid delusional rewrite of all history and reality. Their refusal to provide a record of their slanders shows they know how bad they are… and I do not know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

    But NPR is a bad thing.

    What the Hell good is a “free press” if it good-old-boy-clubs itself into a massive delusion, with only “fringe” players actually getting useful information through?

  77. Hey. I listen to NPR. Critically.

  78. “What the Hell good is a “free press””

    It makes the above post possible.

  79. NPR is not free. Tax your ass for that, they do.

  80. Magnificient, Karl. You should extend that to a book; you are 10% there already!

  81. Its good to know, but unsurprising to find out, that people are upset with what the media tells them about this war. Since the beggining, I don’t think they’ve been very good at explaining and communicating just what exactly we are in for. Too much punditocracy and official sources. Not enough critical and independent sources.

  82. I had to read that twice to appreciate just how vapid that comment is.

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  84. The thing is, it isn’t just journalists who are fixated on Tet.

    A Tet is the military equivalent of a Hail Mary pass — when you’re behind the curve, it can sometimes be a good tactic to rob Peter, stiff Paul, and shove every resource you can beg, buy, borrow, steal, or improvise into one mighty push. Sometimes that breaks the enemy, perhaps at some small weak point, and you can then get through into their rear and commence to do mischief. As such it’s a desperate gambit, but it’s no more than standard theory at root. Die Schwerpunkt.

    The Viet Cong overdid it from a military point of view. If the gambit is to work at all, you have to have enough forces left to exploit your temporary advantage, and the VC and NVA got so thoroughly destroyed that they didn’t have that. It was only later that they discovered that they had, in fact, penetrated a weak spot, a weak point that wasn’t even on the battlefield. For all the undoubted morale problems American forces had in Viet Nam, as a force Americans never came close to crying Uncle. It was Uncle Walter who cried.

    Cronkite was of course an emblem rather than a participant, but the principle is clear: you can’t beat American forces even when they’re riddled with malcontents and druggies, because they’re simply too strong, too well trained, too well equipped. What you can beat is the American political system. The U.S. military didn’t lose in Viet Nam. The Congress, the Press, and the intelligentsia ran like rabbits, and with nothing to hold their rear the military had to fold. Opponents since them have very wisely concentrated on attacking our weak spot, which at the moment is defended by Pinch Sulzberger, Harry Reid, and a legion of the sorriest troops ever seen on the planet. Perhaps we ought to institute Boot Camp for Senators and Publishers.

    Regards,
    Ric

  85. Adsgaine – I’ll just assume you missed everything else I said when that dependent phrase reached out and latched onto your left nostril like a crayfish on meth.

    Or do you actually think the chronically inaccurate and agenda-driven MSM is fulfilling the promise of the First Amendment?

    Or did you somehow manage to pretzel what I said into some bizarre condemnation of my beloved Constitution as opposed to what it actually was?

    Dan – The problem comes when you have to research every damned thing said by a “news source” because their percentages are That Bad. Why not skip the lying middleman and just do your research?

  86. That was the best summary of our piss-poor media and their piss-poor reporting on Iraq that I have read. Really good job.

    Doug Santo
    Pasadena, CA

  87. Magnificient, Karl. You should extend that to a book; you are 10% there already!

    Second that. And Verc, how the hell are you? You been in the sandbox? Good to see you.

  88. I second that, Verc. Long time.

  89. “Adsgaine – I’ll just assume you missed everything else I said when that dependent phrase reached out and latched onto your left nostril like a crayfish on meth.”

    I admit it. I saw the phrase where you question the value of a free press, and it raised my hackles. I interpreted it as meaning that the press has to justify its freedom by delivering a certain level of quality. I had to disagree with that. Perhaps that wasn’t your meaning, though, in which case I will accept your correction.

    “Or do you actually think the chronically inaccurate and agenda-driven MSM is fulfilling the promise of the First Amendment?”

    The only promise in the First Amendment is freedom. There’s no guarantee that it will make you rich or deliver a quality newspaper to your door. That’s left up to the people who enjoy the freedom.

    I don’t think your disregard for the MSM is any greater than my own, but because we have freedom of the press, we have access to other sources of information. Like Karl.

    “Or did you somehow manage to pretzel what I said into some bizarre condemnation of my beloved Constitution as opposed to what it actually was?”

    If it wasn’t what I interpreted it as, then it must have been a throwaway comment, a rhetorical flourish that wasn’t meant to mean anything. Otherwise, why even put it in there?

  90. The AP has been awfully quiet about Bilal Hussein lately.

  91. Ardsgaine – Sweet baby Jesus. I used to say it wasn’t possible to overthink things, but I was obviously grievously wrong.

    Everybody else – Did I just lose my ability to communicate today or did Ardsgaine just impute a bunch of crap into what I wrote that wasn’t there when I wrote it?

    Yeah, I guess someone could interpret what I said as an attack on the First Amendment, but in context it could only be if they were looking for a fight.

    Suffice it to say, I’m a fricking Bill of Rights absolutist and uniterested in getting involved in another friendly fire incident with other posters here. Too many productive things to do, I guess.

  92. I’m not an absolutist. Taking my money and giving it to Daniel Schorr? I draw the freaking line.

  93. “Did I just lose my ability to communicate today or did Ardsgaine just impute a bunch of crap into what I wrote that wasn’t there when I wrote it?”

    The latter, I guess.

    Erase, erase, erase.

  94. Sorry if I’m grumpy. I think my point about imputing is valid, but your “snipping” my comment and hackles thing set me off.

    Consider it a friendly fire incident with no casualties. :)

  95. Happyfeet: I struggled to find the part in the Bill of Rights where Daniel Schorr gets your money – but it ain’t there.

    Mind you, I bet Daniel Schorr could find it, but he finds all kinds of stuff that ain’t there.

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  97. “Consider it a friendly fire incident with no casualties. :)”

    Done. :)

    And sorry for jumping to conclusions.

  98. 1. tax happyfeet’s moneys

    2. give happyfeet’s moneys to CPB

    3. CPB gives happyfeet’s moneys to local public radio stations

    4. local stations gives happyfeet’s moneys to NPR

    5. NPR gives happyfeet’s moneys to Daniel Schorr

    5. Daniel Schorr doesn’t even say thank you happyfeet

    6. tax happyfeet’s moneys

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  101. Great research, writing and post Karl. I wonder what Edward Murrow would have to say about this state of affairs. Also, I wonder what effect this has on our body politic.

    - John

  102. Tasty, very tasty. No thank you, I don’t think I could I could even fit in a small scoop of sherbert. Fat and happy. You made my day. Thank You Sir & Well Said

  103. Pingback: I’m A Pundit Too » Blog Archive » Iraq Central 8-29-07

  104. “A conspiracy involves an agreement among those involved. The flaws in the establishment media’s Iraq coverage do not arise from some secret agreement but from their preexisting prejudices, misconceptions or ignorance of military history and theory, journalistic biases toward bad news, economic constraints, and so on.”

    Shared Values.

    Excellent article. Thanks for putting it all together.

  105. This is a magnificent article. I’m semi-computer literate, so I linked this article to a site I frequent – but I’m not certain on how to do a trackback. So far my diary has not elicited any rebuttal beyond one liner denials.

  106. A stupendous piece of work. Thank you for the time you spent compiling these links. All together, they are revelatory.

    To add one minute tile to your mosaic:

    James Lacey wrote an interesting article about his experience as a Time correspondent in Iraq in 2003 that illuminates in part how hive-think warps even such factual, on-the-ground reporting as big media do obtain:
    http://tinyurl.com/254zsl

    >>

  107. While Tet ultimately ended in a major allied victory, the offensive stood as irrefutable evidence that the enemy was not on the ropes in the fall of 1967 and that he had a lot more support, fight, and staying power than anyone immagined.

    Just to beat Rics dead horse. The NVA put everything into the Tet offensive. The committed all their reserves. They gambled and lost horrifically. They would not launch another offensive on that scale until 1975. Even then they feared that the US would step in and help the RV.

  108. Karl,
    There are a lot of people here who had your back when you were just a commenter.

    Having said that, I’ve got 32 pit bulls that could really use the space that your new 60 acre ranch/party compound can provide. Of course there will need to be some fence modifications, some electrical upgrades and you’ll need to have a backhoe on hand.

    …….oh? OK star. Ah-ight. I see how it iz.

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  111. Excellent piece! I add my vote for a book And of course, we can’t forget Peter Arnett’s declaration of failure on Baghdad television as the troops were entering the city. BTW, have you seen the Harvard analysis of the media impact on the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war? It’s actually quite good.

  112. Karl/Jeff – this is a stunning, paradigm-shifting piece of work. I started blogging a few weeks ago, and after reading this I’m tempted to give up. However, I won’t, because if I can be responsible for getting just one person to read this piece who otherwise wouldn’t have seen it then all the hours I’ve spent trying to get my own blog up and running will have been worthwhile. I’ll be linking to this post, but I haven’t yet figured out how to use trackbacks, and I don’t know if the link I’ve provided above shows up in the comment (I’m probably the most technically limited blogger out there). I’m not going to add a link to my own blog without your permission, but if you give me the okay I’ll do so, or perhaps you’ll consider the blog worthy of a link anyway – among other things I’ve done quite a few posts on media bias in coverage of Iraq/Afghanistan.

    Sorry for prattling on here. Again, great work.

  113. Okay, so the link shows up! In that case ignore everything after ‘will have been worthwhile’, and maybe check out The Monkey Tennis Centre.

  114. Pingback: Righting the Capsized Narrative of the Vietnam and Iraq « Wolf Pangloss

  115. Mike – your blog looks to be off to a strong start.

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  117. pauldanish claimed:

    Then came Tet.

    While Tet ultimately ended in a major allied victory, the offensive stood as irrefutable evidence that the enemy was not on the ropes in the fall of 1967 and that he had a lot more support, fight, and staying power than anyone immagined.

    You really need to read Giap’s writing about the aftermath of the war. Or how exactly does “it will take three years to rebuild our forces” count as “staying power” in your world?

    I suppose Nazi Germany demonstrated it’s “staying” power with it’s little counter-offensive in December 1944, right?

  118. A neighborhood of 500 people are being terrorized by a pack of 7 rabid dogs. Some have died. Animal Control steps in and sends two dog-catchers. The two dog catchers eventually catch and kill one of the dogs, but not before three of the neighbors are caught and mauled or killed by the wild pack and three more dogs from another neighborhood join the pack. The neighborhood grows more fearful.

    The media reports: “It’s a quagmire! They’re attracting more rabid dogs! People are dying!”

    Unfortunately, some of the neighbors are nonjudgmental dog lovers and they let the dogs hide in their backyard when they’re not hunting the other neighbors. People begin spending more time cowering in their homes, but must venture out to the store from time to time and are sometimes caught by the dogs; 10 neighbors in all. The dog-catchers eventually catch and kill one more dog. It’s been months though and progress is too slow. The neighbors begin to fight with one another over who is helping the dogs and who isn’t – who thinks things were better before the dog catchers got there and who doesn’t.

    The media reports: “It’s still a quagmire! More people are dying! Who are we to interfere with nature and try to control dogs?”

    Finally, Animal Control sends in the specialists: five guys to implement a new strategy. The five specialists, along with the two dog-catchers get chummy with the neighbors and enlist them to help rid themselves of the dogs and to build their own Animal Control Unit. Unfortunately, due to heavier neighbor involvement, 20 neighbors die, but they catch and kill 5 more of the remaining eight dogs. They’re still bickering about the finer points of their fledgling Animal Control Unit, but the basic structure has been agreed upon and progress is slow, but sure.

    The media reports: “The surge is a failure! The body count doubles! Few benchmarks met for Animal Control Unit.”

    Get the picture?

  119. Oyster:

    That’s one of the best analogies for Iraq I’ce ever read. Well done!

  120. Heh.

    Not just beautifully done, but it’s clearly troll-repellent.

  121. Brought to you by Reason, Sourcing and Facts, your troll repellant source for 10 years….

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  123. A great post. I’m going to spread it around.

    But surely an analysis of the media would be incomplete if it didn’t at least mention the absurd over-reaction to Abu Graib? Someone could write a PhD thesis on that alone.

  124. This War started in Korea. We drew an imaginary line that we couldn’t cross, we abided by rules are enemy wouldn’t bother with and our enemy was supported by Communist China and Russia.

    So lets see. Today we fight a war with rules our enemy laughs at. We won’t cross certain artificial boundries like a mosque or Iranian border. China and Russia are supplying Iran with the weapons they are importing into Iraq.

  125. So it’s the MSM’s fault the Iraq war is unpopular. I guess then the fact that we’ve lost over 3500 KIA and over 15,000 wounded, with no end in sight, has nothing to do with the war’s unpopularity. That it?

  126. We lost more people in President Clinton’s peacetime, silly man.

  127. Also, silly man, your numbers on KIA, they are wrong. I bet you got your numbers from your media.

  128. Aha, comment 131 brings our first loon. Excellent work (C)arl.

  129. Where is the end? There is no end in sight! WHY CAN’T I SEE THE END!?!

    Damn you, cruel fate.

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  131. Goss is a Katrina-era PW dissident voice. Good to see in the intervening months since he’s made an appearance here he’s sharpened up his ability to launch the either/or fallacy like a fucking laser-guided MISSILE!

  132. You’re either AGAINST this war or … um … ah …

    HALIBURTON!

  133. “So it’s the MSM’s fault the Iraq war is unpopular.”

    He’s got a point. I mean the news reels identifying the enemy and showing our troops in a positive light had nothing to do with America supporting the cause in WWII. America just automatically supported the cause and the troops.

    If there were no MSM the Iraqi conflict would automatically be unpopular. America would automatically think the worst of the troops and be against the cause of democracy. Wait a minute…..

  134. Geez, tht’s it? Karl writes this epic tome and the best we can do for trolls is Carl Goss “so it’s the MSM’s fault” nana boo-boo?

    What, no imperial plans, all for the oil, HALIBURTON(!), Fox News, Bush is an idiot, Bush is a master conspirator, there is no terrorist threat, where’s Osama, impeach the criminal Cheney, etc.?

    Karl, it would appear you have just nuked them into submission!

    HOO-AH!!!

  135. Also, silly man, your numbers on KIA, they are wrong. I bet you got your numbers from your media.

    Eh?

  136. Slart:

    happyfeet was breaking out the conflict deaths from the non-conflict deaths. Direct conflict related deaths are well below 3500.

    Yeah, I thought he was reaching a little.

  137. Goss spends a lot of time over at Darleen’s blog showing his mastery of argument by macro.

  138. Yeah well, Goss didn’t give me a lot to work with. You gotta figure, they have those stats for a reason. Can’t just let em sit there.

  139. Well Carl,
    How about this. Since the MSM and the leftists have voiced support and given material aid and comfort to the enemy as well as handcuffing American troops, the war has been prolonged and we have had more deaths.

    Your argument is like driving through a crowd of people and saying if they moved I wouldn’t have hit them.

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  141. Shawn:

    Your argument is like driving through a crowd of people and saying if they moved I wouldn’t have hit them.

    Uh oh! Carl will turn that around on you and say,”No Shawn, more like if they hadn’t been sent to the middle of the roadway, I wouldn’t be hitting them now, despite the fact that I support them by wanting them out of the roadway and on to a nice, Okinawa sidewalk.”

    Jest warnin’ is all.

  142. So it’s the MSM’s fault the Iraq war is unpopular. I guess then the fact that we’ve lost over 3500 KIA and over 15,000 wounded, with no end in sight, has nothing to do with the war’s unpopularity. That it?

    Aw, I was so close way back in Comment #2.

    At the risk of feeding one of the most veteran of intertron lefty trolls, I’ll just quickly point out that

    1) the unpopularity (which is a silly word to describe it, but it’s what you used) of the war didn’t just begin when the body count hit 3500. The war began losing support right after the first insurgent attacks, when we hit the “GRIM MILESTONE!!” of 100 troop deaths (and the TV media played the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner clip a jillion times while ignoring what Bush said in his speeches), and the numbers finally flipped at the beginning of 2005, shortly after we hit the “GRIM MILESTONE!!” of 1000 troop deaths. So I think looking at high casualty figures must be a red herring.

    2) The US has been in several long wars with much higher body counts (and far, far, far higher casualty rates), and those wars enjoyed much higher support ratings. How could that be, if enduring, say, 1000 casualties naturally equate to a war’s unpopularity?

    3) Where do you get the information which determines whether you can foresee “an end in sight?” The media? Hmmmmmm.

    But full points for being the only troll to even attempt to scale Mt. Documentation. Huzzah! Even if it was a particularly weak, predictable one-liner.

  143. BBR:

    If Goss’ comment stain represents attempting to scale Mt. Karl then it is the equivalent of tea and frijoles at base camp. There is not a piton or ice axe in sight.

    And nice call on #2. You were so close!

  144. Wow. Stunning. What a great job, I can’t think of anything you missed.

  145. Pingback: How Sh*t Works » Blog Archive » Righting the Capsized Narrative of the Vietnam and Iraq

  146. Thank you Karl.

  147. How about this. Since the MSM and the leftists have voiced support and given material aid and comfort to the enemy as well as handcuffing American troops, the war has been prolonged and we have had more deaths.

    Your argument is like driving through a crowd of people and saying if they moved I wouldn’t have hit them.

    Ummm… no. Your characterization of what I wrote is a complete strawman. As was Goss’s. Whatever happened to nuance on the Left?

    As I remarked in an earlier thread, the prog-trolls are really off their game in these dog days of summer.

  148. So it’s the MSM’s fault the Iraq war is unpopular. I guess then the fact that we’ve lost over 3500 KIA and over 15,000 wounded, with no end in sight, has nothing to do with the war’s unpopularity. That it?

    Carl, I am not buying your faux rage at the casualty count. There were more military deaths per year during the Clinton years then there have been during the Iraq War. The media and twatwaffles like yourself gave Clinton a pass not because he was right in sending troops into Bosnia, Somalia or launching cruise missle into Afganistan, but because he had a D after his name. Party over principle. That it?

  149. Karl

    I would argue with you on that point Karl. Viet Nam was the same type of issue. When the Tet Offensive ended, Walter Conkrite got on TV and said “It is apparent now the war is un-winnable”. The North Vietnamese said after the war that they were going to try and reach a peace treaty like Korea but this made them decide to continue to fight despite loses. So what we have now is a foreign insurgency getting its ass handed to them but they hold out in hopes that our Anti-American press will help turn the feeling and support of the war enough for them to win by us leaving.

    I think Carl Goss can’t figure out that the number of dead has little to do with it, but the continual announcement of that number without any reference to what is being accomplished is similar to how the Anti-American press defeated American in Viet Nam.

  150. Karl, you bloody fascist :)

    I think I’m in love.

  151. Pingback: Media Mythbusters Blog » Blog Archive » The Big Picture(s) [Karl]

  152. Some comments about the Tet Offensive, for what they’re worth:

    I.) The VC took heavy casualties, but were not destroyed during Tet. If they had been, there would have been no need for Operation Phoenix, which continued killing VC in the tens of thousands through the early-1970s.

    II.) The NVA took heavy casualties during Tet, but remained a tough and viable enemy for the remainder of the war.

    III.) The idea being bandied about here that Hanoi was ready to surrender after Tet, and only rallied when Walter Cronkite broke American morale on the homefront, is ludicrous. Some evidence for this theory would be appreciated.

    Why would Hanoi surrender when it had manpower to spend by the hundreds of thousands (even after Tet), and the will to fight for decades (as the Vietnamese had against the Chinese and French, always rising from the ashes no matter how many times they suffered military disaster)?

    It is obvious that people fighting for their own country on their own soil have the kind of staying power a foreign expeditionary force cannot maintain. It didn’t take Walter Cronkite to give the enemy heart. They already had plenty of heart, before, during, and after Tet.

    Please remember this quote from Ho Chi Minh, made originally to the French, but applicable also to the Americans: “You will kill ten of our men, and we will kill one of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it.”

    III.) The claim made here that the communists were so badly hurt during Tet as to be unable to launch another major offensive until 1975 is also ludicrous. The communists launched major offensives in May 1968 and August 1968 (the former offensive claiming even more U.S. casualties than Tet), continued to offer stiff resistance to U.S. forces throughout 1969 and 1970, shattered the ARVN during the ill-fated Laotian incursion of 1971, and then launched the devastating 1972 Easter Offensive. When the peace accords were signed in 1973, Hanoi’s army occupied big chunks of South Vietnam, and without U.S. infantry support, the ARVN had no chance whatsoever to reclaim these areas. What followed in 1975 was inevitable.

    None of this has anything to do with the bravery of the American soldier in Vietnam. By and large, our troops in Vietnam were as good as any who fought in WWII and Korea. I am confused, however, by the feel-good revisionism about Vietnam displayed here in which wars are won and lost not by tactics, strategy, staying power, and the tides of history–but by an editorial by Walter Cronkite. I think all those millions of NVA with AK-47s, RPGs, and a fanatical willingness to die for their cause had more to do with the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam than Walter Cronkite.

  153. Edit note: “Thus, the magnitude of the media’s failure to recognize the import of the rise of the Anbar Salvation Council — and its portrayal of Anbar province as lost — cannot be understated.” That’s reversed; it means that no matter how much you belittle it, it’s even less than that. “Overstated” is what you want.

    It’s interesting to realize that this war is perhaps bigger and more important than the Vietnam war, not to mention much more complex and “interactive” (by which I mean that we hear and see much more of the Iraqi players and VIPs and populace than was ever the case in Vietnam). The troop numbers and casualties are only a fraction of those in ‘Nam, much of which has to do with the fact that there is no individual state fielding soldiers and providing arms to the insurgency the way NV was.

    “Bigger” is perhaps true in that more is at stake, but that’s a judgment call. I’m wondering what the GWOT follow-on will be, though, if Petraeus and the IA are decisive victors in 2008, and then the US public elects a Democrat President because it’s now “safe” to do so. Could get real nasty again.

  154. Pita,
    Not huge numbers of N. Veitnamese willing to die for their cause, North Vietnamese Generals willing to sacrifice huge numbers of people for their cause. Not a minor difference. Secondly, they lost over 25,000 trops in the Tet Offensive. Possibly even more than that. The communists murdered thousands of civilians who were hostile to communist control. That would the “popular movement” you speak of. Why is it people re-write Vietnam as a civil war. Why not call Korea a civil war? After all it was the N. Koreans, supplied by China and Russia fighting the S. Koreans supplied by us.

  155. Pingback: The Big Picture(s): Addendum

  156. Pingback: Gathering of Eagles: Colorado » Blog Archive » The Big Picture(s) [Karl]

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  158. Media bought and promulgated the Big Lie of Viet Nam, aided and abetted by former and current socialists in government and the faux intelligentsia. That this Iraq conflict is failing to generate the same types of support the Media wants, is directly due to the growth of a true Internet Publishing of background data, showing the Goebbels-like propaganda line the Media is trying to foist on the public. Thank you.

  159. Pingback: Lies and Bias in the Mainstream Media « Thomas Hagen: My Opinion

  160. Comment by Cassandra on 8/30 @ 5:23 pm #

    Karl, you bloody fascist :)

    I think I’m in love.

    But you’re married. As is often the case.

  161. Brian H:
    Thanks for the edit.

  162. Well as usual Goldstein et al deliver that seriously needed ass-kicking the MSM needs…

    Thanks for giving me or us the fact again… Another great job!

  163. Please remember this quote from Ho Chi Minh, made originally to the French, but applicable also to the Americans: “You will kill ten of our men, and we will kill one of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it.”

    Pita,

    I am curious as to why you think Ho Chi Minh felt that way? Was it because they had a never ending supply of brown people who could carry an AK-47, or is it because he knew that the media would only tell us about the one death and not the ten.

    The idea being bandied about here that Hanoi was ready to surrender after Tet, and only rallied when Walter Cronkite broke American morale on the homefront, is ludicrous. Some evidence for this theory would be appreciated.

    PITA, the idea is not being “bandied around”. It was mentioned casually by Karl in the larger context of his post and only one person mentioned it in the comments. However, I will concede that the theory of Cronkite being solely responsible for the US defeat in Vietnam is indeed ludicrous, but not nearly as ludicrous as erecting a strawman at the tail end of a thread. The overall point, which you seem to miss or ignore, is that the media has an ideological filter that it applies to the news, which in turn effects that perception of the folks here at home. It happened in Vietnam and it is happening today with Iraq.

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  167. Hey, Shane and Sweep the Leg. I only commented because conmpletely false comments were being made here about the Tet Offensive. Most fundamentally, the comments blaming the fall of South Vietnam on overly negative media reports (a la Walter Cronkite’s stalemate editorial) seemed to disregard the more overarching reasons for the communist takeover: namely, the heroism and dedication of the VC and NVA vs. the corruption of Saigon, and the mostly lackluster performance of the ARVN.

    The most positive, pro-government reporting in the world would not have turned Saigon into a real democracy, nor transformed the ARVN into a pack of tigers who could best the NVA.

    Shane seems unwilling even to admit that the VC and NVA were tough, dedicated fighters, a simple fact acknowledged by those American infantrymen who faced them in battle. My God, the first offical U.S. Marine history of the war ends with a tribute to the martial qualities of the Viet Cong.

    Enemy soldiers were not lambs being forced into a slaughterhouse by their callous leaders, as Shane implies. They were believers in the cause as their performance on the battlefield vividly demonstrated. We are really entering surrealistic territory here if the toughness of the VC and NVA cannot be admitted.

    Shane is correct, however, to ascribe thousands of political murders to the communists in Vietnam. Yes, that is the war they fought: brutal and cold-blooded. Still, Saigon’s troops were not exactly angels. The list of atrocities committed by Hanoi and Saigon would be endless.

    If a war being fought by Vietnamese against Vietnamese for control of their country does not qualify to Shane as a civil war, I am not going to say anything here to convince him otherwise.

    Sweep the Leg, you imply that the media was only concerned with U.S. casualties in Vietnam, and did not properly describe the extent of enemy casualties. Not true. Enemy body counts were reported on a nightly basis, and those counts were always manyfold bigger than the counts of U.S. casualties. Photographs and news footage of enemy bodies was quite common during the Vietnam War.

    Reporting out of Vietnam was actually quite positive during the initial years of the war, and the American public had no doubt that the VC and NVA were being badly bloodied. That same public finally grasped, however, that massive communist casualties were not leading to victory, not when Saigon remained a cesspool of corruption and the ARVN a second-rate fighting force in comparison to the NVA.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is this: the media’s idealogical filter is not nearly so uniform, nor anti-mission, as you folks believe, either in Vietnam or Iraq. What you seem to want is a media that wears nationalistic blinders, and cheers for the Commander in Chief no matter how badly things are going on the ground.

    Let me put it this way: if Walter Cronkite had shown up on TV after Tet dressed as Uncle Sam and waving sparklers as he declared that we were winning, the ARVN would still have crumbled and the NVA would have still taken Saigon.

    The media’s always been a convenient scapegoat for incompetent strategy and tactics.

    PITA, the idea is not being “bandied around”. It was mentioned casually by Karl in the larger context of his post and only one person mentioned it in the comments. However, I will concede that the theory of Cronkite being solely responsible for the US defeat in Vietnam is indeed ludicrous, but not nearly as ludicrous as erecting a strawman at the tail end of a thread. The overall point, which you seem to miss or ignore, is that the media has an ideological filter that it applies to the news, which in turn effects that perception of the folks here at home. It happened in Vietnam and it is happening today with Iraq.

  168. Pingback: The Big Picture(s): Civilian Casualties? Pick A Number! [Karl]

  169. PITA,
    I was careful not to blame Cronkite for losing the Vietnam war, though his uniformed commentary apparently had an effect on LBJ.

    And I agree with you that tactics, strategy, staying power, and the tides of history are key in winning a war. In fact, that is one reason I have noted more than once that historically, most insurgencies fail, but take around a decade to burn out. It is the establishment media that knows little about tactics, strategy and the history of insurgencies — and it affects their coverage, which in turn affects US staying power.

  170. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: the media’s idealogical filter is not nearly so uniform, nor anti-mission, as you folks believe, either in Vietnam or Iraq. What you seem to want is a media that wears nationalistic blinders, and cheers for the Commander in Chief no matter how badly things are going on the ground.

    I quoted a study showing Iraq was 94% negative in 2006, and journalists admitting they do not report good news. If you have links that disprove either, let’s see them.

    I don’t want the media to cheerlead. I want the media to not report that Al Qaeda is increasingly popular in Anbar province when the opposite is true. I want the media to show up to the second largest offensive of the conflict. I want the media to stop running obviously staged photographs. So stop putting words in my mouth.

    Let me put it this way: if Walter Cronkite had shown up on TV after Tet dressed as Uncle Sam and waving sparklers as he declared that we were winning, the ARVN would still have crumbled and the NVA would have still taken Saigon.

    True, but that leaves the question of how much the media had to do with pushing US public opinion to the point of cutting off all support for South Vietnam, which survived for years after the US withdrawal.

  171. Hey there, Karl. I only dropped into this discussion because of the uninformed commentary being made about the Tet Offensive, and media performance in Vietnam. I did not mean to put words in your mouth, as you say I have. My apologies.

    Regarding Iraq, I have no statistics to offer to counter yours. I can offer a personal impression that the media has paid homage throughout the war to the courage of the American soldier and marine, and to the superlative professional qualities of our fighting forces, while also casting doubt on the abilities of the Iraqis to get their house in order.

    Yes, there have been lapses in media coverage (faked photos and the rest), but for every journalist who has failed in his or her professional responsibilities, I would suggest that many more have endured much hardship and risk to accurately tell at least a small part of the story as best they know how.

    If that reporting strikes you as “negative,” there is a reason: the situation in Iraq is horrendously negative. Regardless of the ebb and flow of specific operations and enemy defeats (yes, the U.S. military is outstanding), the fight will ultimately be decided by the Iraqis. I am not encouraged by this reality.

    As to your comment that “most insurgencies fail, but take around a decade to burn out,” I’d suggest reading War in the Shadows by Asprey. His comments about U.S. strategy and tactics in Vietnam are especially pungent. Not a lot of talk in there about the media being to blame for the fall of Saigon. Hell, even the U.S. Army’s official, two-volume history of military-media relations in Vietnam is more comforting to the media than its detractors.

    By the way, many reporters in Vietnam (some of them veterans of WWII and Korea) knew plenty about “tactics, strategy and the history of insurgencies”–and they knew winners and losers when they saw them. On the battlefield, the ARVN were losers, the VC and NVA winners, the politicians in Saigon a pack of venal clowns.

    You contend that overly-negative reporting from Vietnam “push[ed] US public opinion to the point of cutting off all support for South Vietnam, which survived for years after the US withdrawal.”

    I would suggest that the media simply reported what was happening on the ground (endless U.S. victories did not grind the NVA down, the ARVN never got its act together, Saigon was a corrupt cesspool), and that the Mothers and Fathers of America finally got sick of feeding their draft-age sons into an endless war on the other side of the world that had zero strategic value to the security of the United States.

    When Congress cut off military aid to South Vietnam, it was following the wishes of a voting public that had had it up to here with Saigon and its no-win army.

    One final thought: when the NVA launched their final offensive in 1975 (two years after the departure of the last U.S. combat unit, during which time the ARVN had made no headway in removing the NVA occupying major chunks of South Vietnam at the time the peace accords were signed), the ARVN weren’t lacking for military supplies. Hell, they didn’t even use what they had, such was the haste in which they fled before the NVA juggernaut. They left huge depots full of tanks, artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers, and ammunition to the NVA.

    And that’s why Saigon fell. It had nothing to do with the media…. and when Iraq goes down the tubes, the fault will lay closer to the White House than CNN.

  172. Pingback: Thinking Right » Blog Archive » Iraq And The MSM

  173. To Pita;

    You are wrong about the N. Vietnamese being believers in their cause. Many were forced into service with the knowledge that their families would be watched in case they decided not to serve. Secondly, the congress and senate decided in 1975 to halt all funding and help for the S. Vietnamese. That is not true of their Russian and Chinese help in the North. When we stopped supplying the South, it fell. But the North was supplied continuously from China and Russia. Again I would say it is only a civil war if you don’t mind foreign powers playing their hands on the field of battle as well. Of course, most leftists don’t consider it wrong for others to fund a war against the US, its only wrong for the US to fight it.

    I would say in Viet Nam the left did all they could in the press and our government to make sure we lost. Take a look at your statements. You talk about the corrupt government of South Viet Nam, yet fail to mention the corrupt government of N. Vietnam or the corrupt Chinese and Russians who supplied them. A true leftist, you dismiss anything they did and make America the scape goat.

    As far as the media paying homage to the soldiers, what crap. All they do is talk about an illegal war. They spent months reporting and showing pictures of Abu Ghraib, they haven’t spent two days reporting about the torture chambers and people killed by the insurgents. They dismiss and question reports about weapons coming from Iran. They spend as much time as they can spare on soldiers being convicted of committing crimes in Iraq and no time on the Insurgency crimes and kidnappings.

    Saigon fell because the continual harping of the left about the S. Vietnamese while completely ignoring the atrocities and hardships that were being caused by the N. Vietnamese. The stories and reports about Vietnam were always about the South Vietnamese being bad and our soldiers dying and completely ignoring the other side. Then they say the reporting wasn’t entirely left and bias, they simply didn’t report on the N. Vietnamese like they did us. It’s the same in Iraq. Every night a story about our soldiers getting killed, possibly a name of one of our soldiers. How often do they show or name the insurgents who were killed? How often do they pin the deaths of women and children on a named insurgent? They don’t want to make it personal, people might begin to understand that they are being killed off by insurgents instead of the Americans. The left wants us to lose in Iraq. They say so. They report in a manner to help the terrorists.

  174. To Pita;

    One thing I always thought was telling about both Korea and Vietnam, all the civilians fled the North to the South to get away from the communist armies. No fled from the South to the North. In every case the people in the North knew they would have better lives under America and a government they supported then the government and military in the North. In both cases at the end of the war there was a mass exodus from the North to the South. Ever wonder why? Did you ever wonder what those people knew that you didn’t?

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  176. Hey there again, Shane. If interested, I’ll be happy to address your latest comments:

    “You are wrong about the N. Vietnamese being believers in their cause. Many were forced into service with the knowledge that their families would be watched in case they decided not to serve….”

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree here. One of the recurrent themes from Vietnam veterans who served with infantry units is the absolute tenacity of the NVA they met in battle. Stories of NVA units holding their ground in the face of overwhelming U.S. firepower, even fighting to the last man, are legion, as are stories about the aggressiveness of NVA units when attacking well-defended U.S. positions. Again, I find it surrealistic that you won’t acknowledge the determination and bravery of the common NVA soldier.

    Yes, many NVA were draftees, and, yes, their families faced retribution if they refused to serve (our army in Vietnam, at least at the grunt level, was also primarily drafted)…. but, my God, for the unmotivated, lambs-to-the-slaughter conscripts you imagine the NVA to be, they sure fought the good fight against the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.

    “… Secondly, the congress and senate decided in 1975 to halt all funding and help for the S. Vietnamese. That is not true of their Russian and Chinese help in the North. When we stopped supplying the South, it fell….”

    South Vietnam fell when the U.S. Army and Marine Corps was no longer on the ground, fighting their war. Funds might have been cut off, but, as noted earlier, the ARVN had huge stockpiles of military hardware and ammunition–stockpiles they gave to the NVA as they ran away from that final communist offensive. During the fall of South Vietnam, one single ARVN division put up an organized, determined defense: the rest fell apart, going so far as to murder their own countrymen to secure places on evacuation ships and aircraft. The ARVN were a disgrace in 1975. And those “unmotivated” NVA beat the living hell out of them.

    “… You talk about the corrupt government of South Viet Nam, yet fail to mention the corrupt government of N. Vietnam or the corrupt Chinese and Russians who supplied them. A true leftist, you dismiss anything they did and make America the scape goat….”

    Uh, I’m not a leftist, and equate Communism as a plague upon mankind equal with Nazism, Facism, and Religious Extremism (in other words, I think Al-Queda is made up of the scum of the earth, which isn’t exactly a leftist position). My hatred of Communism has nothing to do with the fact that the Saigon regime was a self-defeating collection of clowns out to make a buck on the backs of their own people and the U.S. military. In Saigon, we had “allies” of the rankest order. Hanoi was not corrupt in that same self-defeating sense. Brutal, authoritarian, heedless of casualties, yes, but also disciplined and determined. Again, you just won’t give the devil his due, will you?

    “… As far as the media paying homage to the soldiers, what crap. All they do is talk about an illegal war. They spent months reporting and showing pictures of Abu Ghraib, they haven’t spent two days reporting about the torture chambers and people killed by the insurgents. They dismiss and question reports about weapons coming from Iran. They spend as much time as they can spare on soldiers being convicted of committing crimes in Iraq and no time on the Insurgency crimes and kidnappings….”

    I have seen many, many stories in the media about the excellence of the U.S. military, and the heroism of individual soldiers and marines. I’ve also seen a fair share of stories about terrorist murders and torture. We must be watching different stations and reading different newspapers.

    “… Saigon fell because the continual harping of the left about the S. Vietnamese while completely ignoring the atrocities and hardships that were being caused by the N. Vietnamese….”

    Saigon fell because of incompetent, venal leadership on the part of our “allies,” and the ferocious determination of Hanoi, the VC, and the NVA. I know you think the enemy soldiers were unmotivated conscripts, but consider for a moment the carnage and casualties they were willing to endure for their cause. They were often defeated by U.S. units in battle, but they rarely broke. Turn the tables, if you will: can you imagine Saigon’s army wading through all the firepower we threw at the NVA? My God, the ARVN fell to pieces when confronted with mortars, AK-47s, and RPGs. The NVA endured everything from M16s to napalm to B52 Arc Lights.

    The better army won. It’s just about as simple as that.

    “… The stories and reports about Vietnam were always about the South Vietnamese being bad and our soldiers dying and completely ignoring the other side….”

    Go back and review media accounts from Vietnam. There was much emphasis on U.S. battlefield heroism, and enemy casualties. Yes, there was also emphasis on ARVN incompetence–because, in comparison to U.S. forces, and the NVA, the ARVN were incompetent. And why not? What was the motivation of the average ARVN soldier? He certainly had something to fight against (communism), but nothing to fight for (a corrupt regime in Saigon that cared nothing about him or his family, or the rural majority in general).

    Let me go take a look at your second message.

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  178. To Pita;
    The North Vietnamese Army claimed a loss of about 1.1 million. As far as support goes

    “One estimate purports that by 1958, 20% of South Vietnam’s village chiefs had been murdered by the insurgents.[42] What was sought was a method of completely destroying government control in South Vietnam’s rural villages in order to be replaced by a NLF shadow government.[43]”

    “Although the U.S. and South Vietnamese were initially taken aback by the scale of the urban offensive, they responded quickly and effectively, decimating the ranks of the NLF. In the former capital city of Huế, the NLF captured the Imperial Citadel and much of the city, executing nearly 3,000 residents, and leading to the month-long Battle of Huế. After the war, North Vietnamese officials acknowledged that the Tet Offensive had, indeed, caused grave damage to NLF forces. But the offensive had another, unintended consequence.”

    Although some of this is posted in Wikipedia, there are plenty of sources that back up these facts.

    “However, they faced a well-organized, highly determined and well-funded North Vietnam. Much of the North’s material and financial support came from the communist bloc. Within South Vietnam, there was increasing chaos. The withdrawal of the American military had compromised an economy dependent on U.S. financial support and the presence of large numbers of U.S. troops. Along with the rest of the non-oil exporting world, South Vietnam suffered from the price shocks caused by the Arab oil embargo and the subsequent global recession.”

    In other words, they were at a stand still while we funded the South Vietnamese and China and Russia funded the NLF. When we quit funding the South Vietnamese, the North was still being funded by Russia and China as well as having a significant amount of Chinese troops helping. So if you were honest, we left South Vietnam to the N. Vietnamese aided, funded and trained by the Chinese and Russians. Just as the North Vietnamese were no match for us, the South was no match for 2 super powers aiding the North.

    So the better army left. The better army didn’t lose, they just left and they did so because the American press and the leftists of this country convinced us to leave.

    “Between 1965 and 1970, over 320,000 Chinese soldiers served in North Vietnam. The peak was 1967, when 170,000 served there.”
    “North Korea sent a fighter squadron to North Vietnam to back up the North Vietnamese 921st and 923rd fighter squadrons defending Hanoi. They stayed through 1968, and 200 pilots were reported to have served.[118] In addition, at least two anti-aircraft artillery regiments were sent as well. North Korea also sent weapons, ammunition and two million sets of uniforms to their comrades in North Vietnam.[119] Kim Il Sung is reported to have told his pilots to “fight in the war as if the Vietnamese sky were their own”.[120]”

    So it was just a civil war, with the communist countries supplying training, money and soldiers to the North Vietnamese. Well if it was wrong for us to get involved with a civil war, was it right to abandon the South Vietnamese when so much support was being given to the North Vietnamese by outside countries? We should have quit because China, Russia and N. Korea were going to keep going?

    You said;
    “Yes, many NVA were draftees, and, yes, their families faced retribution if they refused to serve (our army in Vietnam, at least at the grunt level, was also primarily drafted)…. but, my God, for the unmotivated, lambs-to-the-slaughter conscripts you imagine the NVA to be, they sure fought the good fight against the U.S. Army and Marine Corps.”

    Actually they didn’t fight that well. They died in huge numbers compared to the Americans. They were slaves without any choice but to fight or have their family slain.

    ” Total military casualties were put at 1.1 million and 600,000 wounded. Hanoi concealed the figures during the war to avoid demoralizing the population.[124]”

    Our press announces the death toll every night to demoralize the population. See the difference.

  179. To Pita;

    I think you may be missing my larger point. We were not locked in a battle with N. Vietnamese but a proxy war with China, Russia, and North Korea. It was not the N. Vietnamese standing up to America, but a huge communist block complete with soldiers, weapons and funding. We were handing them their ass but the press and the American Left fought to make us quit. Now people seem to think or pretend that it was lonely little N. Vietnam that we were fighting.

    Currently in Iraq, it is not a lonely insurgency that we fight. They are being supplied by Iran which is being supplied by both Russia and China. Iran doesn’t have the machining technology to build a gasoline refinery, they have one in the country and they buy spare parts for it from other countries. They can’t even make their own machine guns, they buy AK-47′s and RPG’s from China and Russia. The Iranians are training terrorists and supplying them with weapons they buy from China and Russia. The insurgency would stop if Iran stopped supporting them. So it isn’t a mighty insurgency battling a behemouth America, it is many foreign countries sending aide, weapons and soldiers to Iraq to fight us.

    The press doesn’t pursue this angle. They get on the news every day and give us an American body count. They get on the news, 3 months ahead of report on the surge and announce that it is a failure(Harry Reid did it one week after the start of the surge). The left is beating the drum and calling this a civil war. But if it is just a civil war, then are we concluding that large parts of Iraq are actually Iranian? After all we are finding their soldiers(not in uniform of course) and their weapons there. So it is like Viet Nam in that the left would like to see us fail. They will only report bad news and will never cover the angle of Chinese, Russian and Iranian help for the insurgency. They will not report enemy body counts because it might demoralize the enemy.

  180. PITA,

    Regarding Iraq, I have no statistics to offer to counter yours. I can offer a personal impression that the media has paid homage throughout the war to the courage of the American soldier and marine, and to the superlative professional qualities of our fighting forces, while also casting doubt on the abilities of the Iraqis to get their house in order.

    94% negative still sounds pretty negative to me.

    As for paying homage to the courage of the American soldier, I would note that the establishment media did 90 stories on Medal of Honor winner Paul Smith and 5,158 on Abu Ghraib nitwit Lynndie England. Or you could contrast the coverage of the Haditha killings with the non-coverage of heroes like Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan McDonell or Maryland National Guard Sgt. Michael McMullen. Or the non-coverage of 1st Lt. Brian Chontosh,Sgt. Willie L. Copeland, III, and Lance Corporal Dominic D. Esquibel, to name a few more.

    Also, you’re again raising the strawman that the media did not cause the fall of Saigon. I never suggested it did. I will suggest in both Vietnam and Iraq, however, that the establishment media’s uninformed and distorted coverage eroded support for the mission in each case. When you write, “When Congress cut off military aid to South Vietnam, it was following the wishes of a voting public that had had it up to here with Saigon and its no-win army,” it’s kinda hard to deny that the media was a transmission belt for that message. You can argue that the media was merely reporting what was happening on the ground, but based on your assessment of the current media coverage, I would like to see some hard data on that before I buy it.

  181. Hmmmmmm….

    PITA has “personal impressions.”

    Karl has sourcing, links and statistics.

    Karl wins by a TKO. Somebody call an ambulance for poor PITA.

  182. … and if you’re going to offer up Asprey’s book, you may want to explain how the fact his “angry remarks about our ‘criminal military-political strategy’ in Southeast Asia is even more scathing than in the original edition” hold up as a dispassionate historical analysis. Even historians who disagree as to how the VC became a spent force by ’70 agree the VC was a largely spent force by ’70. As you have noted, Saigon fell to the PRC-supported NVA, not the VC.

  183. Upon reflection, I thought it would be useful to quote further from the James Q. Wilson piece quoted in the main post:

    An analysis of CBS’s Vietnam coverage in 1972 and 1973 supports their views. The Institute for American Strategy found that, of about 800 references to American policy and behavior, 81 percent were critical. Of 164 references to North Vietnamese policy and behavior, 57 percent were supportive. Another study, by a scholar skeptical about the extent of media influence, showed that televised editorial comments before Tet were favorable to our presence by a ratio of four to one; after Tet, they were two to one against the American government’s policy.

    Opinion polls taken in 1968 suggest that before the press reports on the Tet offensive, 28 percent of the public identified themselves as doves; by March, after the offensive was over, 42 percent said they were doves.

    The same dynamic shows up in the Pew Center polls on coverage of Iraq.

    Also to quote Stoker:

    Of course, history is not without genuine insurgent successes. Fidel Castro’s victory in Cuba is probably the best known, and there was the IRA’s partial triumph in 1922, as well as Algeria’s defeat of the French between 1954 and 1962. But the list of failed insurgencies is longer: Malayan Communists, Greek Communists, Filipino Huks, Nicaraguan Contras, Communists in El Salvador, Che Guevara in Bolivia, the Boers in South Africa (twice), Savimbi in Angola, and Sindero Luminoso in Peru, to name just a few.

    Which is one of the reasons why — even if I could be completely convinced that PITA was correct on all points regarding Vietnam (though obviously the points about casualties are really beyond dispute) — I would argue that it is quite dangerous for the establishment media to see the Iraq conflict solely through the prism of Vietnam. I would even take an Algiers reference, if only to debate the light vs. heavy footprint strategies.

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  185. To Karl;

    Do you beleive framing this as a war of the US against the “insurgency” vice a war against the outside countries attempting to influence Iraq like Iran, China and Russia is helping our enemy? I think it can’t be called a civil war if they press acknowledge the outside influence on the insurgency.

  186. Pingback: Propaganda Wars, 2: this time it's personal

  187. Hey, Shane, sorry for this late reply: family problems and all that.

    Anyway, to repeat: the only reason I dropped in here was because some silly stuff was being said about the Tet Offensive (Hanoi was going to “surrender” after Tet, Hanoi was unable to launch any serious offensives after Tet, etc.), and I thought to offer a different perspective.

    I guess I made my point: at least, I don’t hear any more talk here about how the VC were utterly destroyed during Tet and the communists were about to throw in the towel before Walter Cronkite gave them a morale boost. In fact, it seems to be acknowledged here now that the VC were not eliminated as a serious fighting force until perhaps 1970, thanks to Tet, Mini-Tet, the Phase III Offensive, Operation Phoenix, etc., etc., etc.

    The argument here has also changed a bit. Originally, the point was being made that Hanoi was going to “surrender” after Tet. Now, I’m informed that Hanoi was just a cog in a war machine being financed, supplied, and supported by the USSR and Red China. Numbers are being thrown around now as to indicate that the Soviets and Chinese (and even the North Koreans) made major contributions to the ground and air units involved in the war. The U.S. and ARVN weren’t just fighting little ol’ North Vietnam, I’m told, but this huge, multi-national Communist Bloc.

    So, am I to understand that the Soviet Union and Red China were simply going to let Hanoi surrender because the VC took a beating during Tet? Does not compute.

    Might I ask if everyone else here subscribes to Shane’s theory that the NVA were a bunch of unmotivated conscripts who fought badly?

    Because, really, I find Shane’s point of view about the NVA to be surreal. If you spoke to Vietnam veterans who fought in places like the Ia Drang, Leatherneck Square, Dak To, or the A Shau Valley, and told them that the NVA were lousy soldiers, well, I think they would laugh in your face.

    Along these lines, Shane writes: “So the better army [that is, the U.S. Army] left. The better army didn’t lose, they just left and they did so because the American press and the leftists of this country convinced us to leave….”

    The U.S. Army was certainly better than the NVA in terms of firepower, logistics, mobility, etc., but (believe it or not), American and North Vietnamese infantrymen were basically on par in terms of guts and tenacity. That is to say, both sides fought like hell.

    And I don’t think the U.S. Army just left because of some crazy college kids and defeatist reporters. President Nixon pulled our forces out of South Vietnam precisely because the NVA had fought so ferociously, accumulating a level of U.S. casualties that the voting public found intolerable, especially since South Vietnam was of no strategic value, its government was a corrupt cesspool, and the ARVN never became capable of fighting their own war.

    The voting public would have become sick of its sons coming home in aluminum coffins year after year after year–so many casualties for so little gain–no matter how negative or positive the message from the media in Vietnam.

    In fact, the voting public gave South Vietnam seven years of draft-age infantry sons to fight Saigon’s war (1965-72), and Saigon and the ARVN simply failed to use that time to create a viable nation and army. Blame the media all you want. South Vietnam fell because of Saigon and the ARVN.

    Anyway, again I ask: does everyone else out there agree with Shane regarding the supposedly lackluster qualities of Hanoi’s army?

  188. Shane, you quote an unnamed source regarding NVA casualties during the Vietnam War: “Total military casualties were put at 1.1 million and 600,000 wounded. Hanoi concealed the figures during the war to avoid demoralizing the population.”

    You then make this editorial comment: “Our press announces the death toll every night to demoralize the population. See the difference.”

    Yes, I do see the difference. We live in a free country with a free press, and our population expects to be kept informed of certain things–like how many of our soldiers are being killed in wars.

    On the other hand, North Vietnam was an authoritarian nation in which the media was simply an extension of the government: that is, its people were fed propaganda, not news.

    One caveat, however: however much Hanoi tried to conceal casualty figures from its people, I’d suggest those people knew they were taking heavy casualties simply because so many of their sons never came home from the war down south against the Americans.

  189. To Pita;

    The other point I tried to make about our press and helping us surrender like they are doing currently in Iraq is this; Vietnam was not a civil war. It was a multinational war, with us being on the side of S. Vietnam and China and Russia on the side of N. Vietnam. Our press was either to stupid to see this(I doubt it), or they purposely overlooked this. The question would be to what end? I beleive they ignore the other countries that support the other side because they can turn up the rhetoric about staying out of a civil war, as they did in Viet Nam and are doing currently in Iraq. When it really is not a civil war. How can it be a civil war with Syria and Iran sending arms, training and fighters? The insurgency would fall completely without the support of Iran and Syria and by proxy China and Russia. All of those countries have a vested interest in us expending resources and time in Iraq. However, they also have a vested interest in us losing and quiting as well. It is a win-win for them and our press has no problem completely overlooking their involvement. They say “alleged arms from Iran” and carry the story no further.

    I still beleive to this day, mostly because of what retired N. Vietnamese Armies generals have said publicly and in books, they would have agreed to a stale mate like N. Korea did had our press been on our side and not theirs.

    “Being the first major “television war,” Americans watched the carnage in horror and concluded (incorrectly) that it was a military disaster for America. One of America’s most trusted newsmen, CBS’s Walter Cronkite, even appeared for a standup piece with distant fires as a backdrop. Donning a helmet, Cronkite declared the war lost. Eugene McCarthy carried New Hampshire and Bobbie Kennedy stepped forward to challenge the policies of an already distraught President. Six weeks later, Lyndon Johnson, in the midst of national protest, announced that he would not seek re-election. His ratings had plummeted to 30 percent after Tet. Approval of his handling of the war had dropped to 20 percent. He had concluded that the war was unwinnable.

    In the end, American support for the Vietnam War faded. Giap admitted in his memoirs that news media reporting of the war and the antiwar demonstrations that ensued in America surprised him. Instead of negotiating what he called a “conditional surrender,” Giap said they would now go the limit because America’s resolve was weakening and the possibility of complete victory was within Hanoi’s grasp.

    Bui Tin, who served on the general staff of the North Vietnamese army, received South Vietnam’s unconditional surrender on April 30, 1975. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal after his retirement, he made clear that the antiwar movement in the United States (which led to the collapse of political will in Washington) was “essential to our strategy.”

    This is only one link, if you want more google him. He also wrote a book about it(Bui Tin did, not the author of this article). http://www.jfednepa.org/mark%20silverberg/measure_nation.html

  190. Awesome post, except for all the periods. Too many fucking periods, and commas too.

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  192. Shane asked:

    Do you beleive framing this as a war of the US against the “insurgency” vice a war against the outside countries attempting to influence Iraq like Iran, China and Russia is helping our enemy? I think it can’t be called a civil war if they press acknowledge the outside influence on the insurgency.

    One of the hunks I deleted from the first draft of this piece addressed the “civil war” issue. The short version is that the establishment media started calling Iraq a “civil war” in much greater numbers in the run-up to the 2006 election. The NYT only did so afterward, with Bill Keller stating that it was much easier to do so once the Dems won control of Congress.

    Personally, I would not argue that foreign involvement precludes a “civil war” tag, as wars like the Spanish Civil War demonstrate (with some relevance to Iraq, I might add). I haven’t examined whether the establishment media on Iraq suggests that they feel otherwise.

    And fwiw, the big Iraqi opinion poll done by the Times of London in March had most Iraqis saying they did not think they were in a civil war.

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  205. Kudos to you, Karl. An excellent piece. And I was against the war, too.

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  207. Pingback: Very important read.

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