Media coverage in Iraq: Five rules for arrogant reporting


Published: Monday, January 3, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 2, 2005 at 11:41 p.m.
Many readers should realize by now what standards and practices the elite media are using to report the events in Iraq. In case there are a few who don't, let's review, shall we?
Rule 1: No heroes! Nobody involved with the war in Afghanistan or Iraq shall be portrayed as a hero. Jessica Lynch should be besmirched at every opportunity and depicted as a grandstander and an opportunist, not to mention West Virginia hillbilly trash.
Pat Tillman, the pro football player who gave up a lucrative career to fight in Afghanistan, should be portrayed as a "victim" of friendly fire who would still be alive if he had stayed in the National Football League. Any player or coach who honors Pat Tillman by wearing his number should be disciplined by the league at the urging of the media.
Any reservist who resists or refuses orders to go to Iraq should be profiled as a hero with "lofty ideals" who is a tragic "victim" of the war. All reservists who do their duty and report as ordered should be basically ignored.
Rule 2: Everything is a disaster in Iraq. True or not, portray everything as if it's falling apart. Ignore the fact that in northern and southern Iraq, the insurgency barely exists.
Ignore the schools, libraries, hospitals and other good things that are being done for the Iraqi people. Report only roadside explosions and suicide bombers.
Rule 3: Our enemy is invincible because we say they are. In Iraq, we are fighting approximately 7,000 insurgents who have no heavy artillery, no airplanes, no line of resupply and very little command-and-control structure.
They have no Ho Chi Minh trail to bring in fresh munitions and are not supported by any world superpower. In fact, their strongest support comes from the Democratic Party in this country.
Despite all of this, depict the insurgents as some kind of super-enemy that will never be defeated. Everything the insurgents do must be portrayed as a victory for them and a "setback" for the United States.
Everything the United States does must be portrayed as a "disappointment" and a "failure." When the United States does have a clear-cut victory, such as the capture of Saddam, emphasize how this will not change anything.
Rule 4: Our troops are barbarians. When the enemy beheads someone, or hangs burned bodies from bridges, do not show it. Tell the public it is too gruesome for them to see.
However, when Americans do something wrong, show the pictures over and over again. The more headlines the better. This is very easy for the elite media to do, because they have had years of practice pulling this same trick with police officers.
Rule 5: Keep harping on the number of soldiers killed or wounded. Keep repeating the number killed over and over again.
Run profiles of dead American soldiers on the evening news. Excuse this reprehensible behavior by claiming to be "honoring the fallen."
Never explain that these casualty figures are some of the lowest in history. The number of dead in Iraq is small when compared with Iwo Jima, where 6,000 Marines died in two months, or D-Day, where almost 10,000 allied troops died in one day.
Keep talking about the number of Iraqi dead, especially women and children. Never mind that probably more would have died if Saddam had stayed in power.
Ignore the torture chambers, rape rooms and mass graves. Complain loudly about the Pentagon "using the media" and "distorting the facts," so the American public will think they are really the ones not to be believed.
Finally, pretend that Fox News, the Internet, and talk radio do not exist. Act like it's still the good old days when a handful of elite media executives could successfully say "that's the way it is," and people would still believe them.
People like to say the media is hated because it is liberal. Not so. The media is hated because it is arrogant.
Edward F. Roberts is an educator who lives in Palatka.

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