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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Voices from the front are the medias biggest problem

The title says it all. There was time when our troops didn't have a voice and America depended on the media to get their news in a time of war.

The internet has changed that and not the biggest problem the media has is the fact that our soldiers can speak to the American public from the front lines...and they are doing so.

The reason this is a problem for the media and I will show many examples below is because the majority of our media outlets are reporting with an agenda.

The voice from the front lines today is Matt Sanchez, back in Iraq and seeing something very different from the hyperbole he had been reading when he wasn't there to see things for himself.

From Matt Sanchez, back in Iraq:

When I first got to Iraq six months ago, I had my fingers crossed. I literally had no idea what I would find. My biggest fear was that I'd see a group of very discouraged men and women trying to implement a failing policy. I thought I'd see Iraqis poorly coping with an oppressive American military.

What made me more anxious is that I swore I'd tell the full story, the good, bad and ugly. That's what the press is supposed to do. They're supposed to tell the stories of the events that happen. The job of the press is to explain what's going on in places where most readers will never be able to go.

The fact that I am a student of history gave me an additional responsibility. Primary sources, or eyewitnesses to events, are highly valued resources for historians to interpret history.

Years from now, when the world looks back on Iraq, historians and academics will rely heavily on the first-person accounts of events on the ground.

It's hard to explain the shock I got when I finally got into Iraq. Unlike what I had read in the newspapers, I didn't find demoralized troops complaining about a dangerous quagmire in Iraq, and believe me, I asked.

I found men and women who complained because they weren't allowed to leave the safety of big bases and meet Iraqis. I met Iraqis who trusted American troops more than they trusted their countrymen. I met Iraqi policemen who were risking their lives to fight religious fanatics.

Sure, there were problems, but I was shocked by how the reality of Iraq was so different from what I had read back home.

He goes on to discuss Haditha and how the media misrepresented that, then he talks about Abu Ghraib and then asks a question that we have been asking fr a while now.

The big con job the media has inflicted on the American people, by systematically distorting so many details about the conflict in Iraq, does more than skew politics back home; it makes Americans distrust the sources of their information and is an assault on democracy.

Don't get me wrong. We need a critical press. Government, policy and soldiers should be scrutinized. The only question I ask the reader is: Who will hold the press responsible?

Taking a quick moment here to answer that before showing you what else Matt has to say from the front lines, we see by a recent Editor and Publisher article, who is holding the press accountable.

The American people who are not subscribing as they once were because they can and are getting their news elsewhere, from more reliable sources and they have overwhelmingly shown in poll after poll, the latest here, that our media has an agenda and isn't reporting the news as much as playing politics.

Back to Matt now:

The New Republic tried to play the "soldier as victim" card when it printed the Scott Beauchamp stories under the Baghdad Diarist. Beauchamp was supposed to have committed near war crimes, but it turned out he made up most of the story. Nevertheless, the New Republic printed the stories and insisted they were true.

Recently, telephone transcripts revealed New Republic editor Franklin Foer was caught in a flagrant lie when he claimed the military was censoring his writer, Beauchamp.

Call me naïve. I always thought if you lied in the public forum, a red light flashed somewhere and some really important official came by to give you a ticket while the public shunned you. Franklin Foer continues to publish the New Republic and is simply ignoring the evidence of his deceit.

Today, the news from Iraq is increasingly positive – deaths among troops are down by over 70 percent, and Iraqis have largely rejected al-Qaida. But while sectarian violence has plummeted, too many media outlets have stopped reporting on what is, by far, the most defining event of this century.

A free people need a free press, but through omission, exaggeration, bias and just flat-out deceit, the American public has been taken for a ride – and we will all be paying a price.

Matt Sanchez, Bill Roggio, Michael Yon, Michael Totten, and others have the means to speak to the American people now and are doing so on a regular basis.

Recently Michael Yon called it the Bizarro world of media reporting, as does almost ever soldier, embed and person that is in Iraq and seeing the difference from what we are being told and what is actually happening.

Bless these men for risking their life on a daily basis to do what the media is no longer doing... reporting the news. The good, the bad and the ugly.

The Strata-Sphere has a long list of news that you now have to hunt to find about Iraq, simply because it is good news showing how effective the surge and the counterinsurgency strategies that have been implemented, are working.

We here at Wake up America have been compiling lists every week by hunting the news, the Centcom website and every source online that is available to everyone now.

A couple very clear examples of how the media is avoiding reporting the actual news, first came from two very incompetent and unethical journalist that stated to Howard Kurtz, on public television that good news from Iraq shouldn't be reported to the American people and we saw that philosophy in practice last week when the Iraqi's in Ramadi, Iraq, held a parade against al-Qaeda, yet two days later when doing a search, only one media outlet, Time, had bothered to report it.

So, the factual news barely gets reported, yet when a false story, rumor with no fact checking or verification, like the fairy tale of the 20 beheaded bodies that didn't exist, is reported, every news outlet available jumps on it.

Is it any wonder that less half of Americans trust the MSM, according to Gallup?

Don't take my word for it and don't wave it away out of hand, look for yourself.

The Parade happened on October 23, 2007- A search on google news, listed by date, shows that Time reported it on the 24th.

Muncie Free Press picked it up on the 28th:

Ramadi Unity Parade Marks Key Event in Iraqi Reconciliation

A remarkable parade in Iraq’s Anbar province, openly attended by citizens from all walks of life, demonstrates that Iraqi reconciliation efforts are working, a coalition commander said today.

“Out in al Anbar, which you know has been a difficult area about six months ago: a total change,” Army Brig. Gen. Dave Phillips told online journalists and bloggers during a conference call from Baghdad. “When they say there is an awakening, I think that's almost an understatement.”

Phillips, deputy commanding general for the Civilian Police Assistance Training Team, said he personally attended an event earlier this week that proved the awakeni,ng movement encouraged by Sunni sheiks is working.

“This past Tuesday, I went out to Ramadi,” the general explained. “The Iraqis came up with a concept of a Unity Day parade. Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think Ramadi would host a parade which would be led with a band playing and then also young Iraqi boy scouts marching with flags, young Iraqi girl scouts marching with flags, followed by the fire department, the national police, the regular police, ambulances. Never dreamed I would see something like that.”

Associated Press didn't bother mentioning it until the 29th:

For veterans of Ramadi, it seems like a different place and a different war.

Just last year, soldiers were breaking down doors, hunting insurgents and struggling to secure the city block by block. U.S. troops now are invited into the homes of sheiks for lunch.

The American Daily didn't pick up on it until yesterday, Novemeber 5th, but the make sure to mention that the media is ignoring the good news from Iraq--Credit to them for stating it:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking elected woman in the U.S., was on a Fox morning show Thursday. With the utmost sincerity and barely concealed outrage, she described the situation in Iraq as, "A war without end that is a total failure."

Meanwhile, in Ramadi, once considered the heart of the resistance to the U.S.-led coalition, Iraqis were holding a victory parade, celebrating the defeat of the terrorists ( - Iraqi Unity Parade). Pelosi's outright falsehood was broadcast widely. The parade in Ramadi was not.

On Saturday, it was announced that more than 3,000 Iraqi families driven out of their Baghdad neighborhoods have returned to their homes in the last three months. Again, this news was met with a deafening silence by the mainstream media. They were busy reporting on the Democrat-led effort to deny confirmation to President Bush's nominee for attorney general.

Last Wednesday saw another landmark in Iraq. Sheik Omar Jabouri, spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party, said that Al Qaeda had been "defeated mentally, and therefore is defeated physically." In other words, Al Qaeda is toast.

This was also verified by Osama bin Laden's last tape, where he let slip how badly Al Qaeda has been mauled by the Sunni sheiks who have stopped fighting the U.S. troops and turned on him instead. All of a sudden, bin Laden is echoing Rodney King's, “Can't we all just get along?” In Arab-speak, this means Al Qaeda has been defeated. True headline news that, unfortunately, didn't make the news.

What did make the news? The new war on global warming. We learned that the Senate was hard at work crafting a global warming bill that would impose mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases – cuts that will affect virtually every segment of our economy. We also learned that Democrats are going to continue the push for SCHIP (expanded health insurance) knowing that it has no chance of passing. America can rest easy knowing that Democrats are out there “fighting” for the children instead of fighting against the terrorists.

Last week saw a turnaround in Iraq, according to any measure. October marked the lowest monthly death toll for American troops in two years (36 fatalities). On Friday, there were no reported shootings or bombings and it was the second day this year that the sectarian death toll fell below 10.

As Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the Multinational Corps in Iraq, reported, "There is a clear rejection of Al Qaeda and other extremists by large segments of the population. This is coupled with a bottom-up awakening movement by Sunni and Shia who want a chance to reconcile with the government in Iraq."

This good news went largely unreported. The media focused instead on the truly vital news that Congress will be holding hearings in order to ascertain the link between global warming and the California wildfires.

Since the parade was held, a whole 5 media outlets bothered to report it.

What about the false story, the rumor that was reported as news about the 20 beheaded bodies.

That was reported by every news outlet available, yet their corrections, for those that bothered, cannot even be found.

This is what our media is now.. a rumor mill that ignores success and progress and reports false news in its place.

It is pretty bad when it takes a media outlet from another country to speak the truth and to call out our own media and politicians for the lies and lack of journalistic ethics as Times Online did just recently.

The Petraeus Curve:

Is no news good news or bad news? In Iraq, it seems good news is deemed no news. There has been striking success in the past few months in the attempt to improve security, defeat al-Qaeda sympathisers and create the political conditions in which a settlement between the Shia and the Sunni communities can be reached. This has not been an accident but the consequence of a strategy overseen by General David Petraeus in the past several months. While summarised by the single word “surge” his efforts have not just been about putting more troops on the ground but also employing them in a more sophisticated manner. This drive has effectively broken whatever alliances might have been struck in the past by terrorist factions and aggrieved Sunnis. Cities such as Fallujah, once notorious centres of slaughter, have been transformed in a remarkable time.

Indeed, on every relevant measure, the shape of the Petraeus curve is profoundly encouraging. It is not only the number of coalition deaths and injuries that has fallen sharply (October was the best month for 18 months and the second-best in almost four years), but the number of fatalities among Iraqi civilians has also tumbled similarly. This process started outside Baghdad but now even the capital itself has a sense of being much less violent and more viable. As we report today, something akin to a normal nightlife is beginning to re-emerge in the city. As the pace of reconstruction quickens, the prospects for economic recovery will be enhanced yet further. With oil at record high prices, Iraq should be an extremely prosperous nation and in a position to start planning for its future with confidence.

Not only are they willing to state, very clearing, how well things are going and to list the achievements, but they go further, and put the spotlight on how this news an embarrassment for our Democratic politicians.

The current achievements, and they are achievements, are being treated as almost an embarrassment in certain quarters. The entire context of the contest for the Democratic nomination for president has been based on the conclusion that Iraq is an absolute disaster and the first task of the next president is to extricate the United States at maximum speed. Democrats who voted for the war have either repudiated their past support completely (John Edwards) or engaged in a convoluted partial retraction (Hillary Clinton). Congressional Democrats have spent most of this year trying (and failing) to impose a timetable for an outright exit. In Britain, in a somewhat more subtle fashion admittedly, Gordon Brown assumed on becoming the Prime Minister that he should send signals to the voters that Iraq had been “Blair's War”, not one to which he or Britain were totally committed.

All of these attitudes have become outdated. There are many valid complaints about the manner in which the Bush Administration and Donald Rumsfeld, in particular, managed Iraq after the 2003 military victory. But not to recognise that matters have improved vastly in the year since Mr Rumsfeld's resignation from the Pentagon was announced and General Petraeus was liberated would be ridiculous. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have to appreciate that Iraq is no longer, as they thought, an exercise in damage limitation but one of making the most of an opportunity. The instinct of too many people is that if Iraq is going badly we should get out because it is going badly and if it is getting better we should get out because it is getting better. This is a catastrophic miscalculation. Iraq is getting better. That is good, not bad, news.

The biggest problem our media has these days is the voices from the front. The people willing to tell us all the news, good and bad, which only highlights the reasons for our major newspapers decline.

They are becoming irrelevant and not because of easy access to the internet but because the voices from the front are telling the truth while our mainstream media is doing everything they can to ignore and avoid the truth.

Tell me, when we have attained victory in Iraq... will you even know about it?

Not if you depend on our media to tell you and not if you depend on our politicians to admit it.

You will know it if you listen to the voices who know, the ones on the front.

It is a sad state of affairs that our troops not only have to fight for you but they also have to bring you the news because our media refuses to do so.