December 13, 2005
The Media's War
The media seem to have come up with a formula that would make any
war in history unwinnable and unbearable: They simply emphasize
the enemy's victories and our losses.
by the enemy are not news, no matter how large, how persistent,
or how clearly they indicate the enemy's declining strength.
the enemy's victories in Iraq? The killing of Americans and the
killing of Iraqi civilians. Both are big news in the mainstream
media, day in and day out, around the clock.
ever believed that any war could be fought without deaths on both
sides? Every death is a tragedy to the individual killed and to
his loved ones. But is there anything about American casualty
rates in Iraq that makes them more severe than casualty rates
in any other war we have fought?
On the contrary,
the American deaths in Iraqi are a fraction of what they have
been in other wars in our history. The media have made a big production
about the cumulative fatalities in Iraq, hyping the thousandth
death with multiple full-page features in the New York Times
and comparable coverage on TV.
death was similarly anticipated almost impatiently in the media
and then made another big splash. But does media hype make 2,000
wartime fatalities in more than two years unusual?
lost more than 5,000 men taking one island in the Pacific during
a three-month period in World War II. In the Civil War, the Confederates
lost 5,000 men in one battle in one day.
was Jim Lehrer on the "News Hour" last week earnestly
asking Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about the ten Americans
killed that day. It is hard to imagine anybody in any previous
war asking any such question of anyone responsible for fighting
lost more men than that in our most overwhelming and one-sided
victories in previous wars. During an aerial battle over the Mariannas
islands in World War II, Americans shot down hundreds of Japanese
planes while losing about 30 of their own.
If the media
of that era had been reporting the way the media report today,
all we would have heard about would have been that more than two
dozen Americans were killed that day.
our troops nor the terrorists are in Iraq just to be killed. Both
have objectives. But any objectives we achieve get short shrift
in the mainstream media, if they are mentioned at all.
can kill ten times as many of the enemy as they kill and it just
isn't news worth featuring, if it is mentioned at all, in much
of the media. No matter how many towns are wrested from the control
of the terrorists by American or Iraqi troops, it just isn't front-page
news like the casualty reports or even the doom-saying of some
that these doom-saying politicians have been proved wrong, again
and again, does not keep their latest outcries from overshadowing
the hard-won victories of American troops on the ground in Iraq.
claimed that terrorist attacks would make it impossible to hold
the elections last January because so many Iraqis would be afraid
to go vote. The doom-sayers urged that the elections be postponed.
But a higher
percentage of Iraqis voted in that election -- and in a subsequent
election -- than the percentage of Americans who voted in last
year's Presidential elections.
of history enables any war with any casualties to be depicted
in the media as an unmitigated disaster.
Nazi Germany surrendered at the end of World War II, die-hard
Nazi guerrilla units terrorized and assassinated both German officials
and German civilians who cooperated with Allied occupation authorities.
suggested that we abandon the country. Nobody was foolish enough
to think that you could say in advance when you would pull out
or that you should encourage your enemies by announcing a timetable.
never been the slightest doubt that we would begin pulling troops
out of Iraq when it was feasible. Only time and circumstances
can tell when that will be. And only irresponsible politicians
and the media think otherwise.
2005 Creators Syndicate