Monday, October 10, 2005


Chilling Intolerance

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest is clearly very frightened of the influence military bloggers (MILBLOGS) and other right leaning bloggers are exerting over public, political discussion.

Responding to Blackfive’s post on Journalists and the Military, Johnson issues an ominous warning:
In other words, anything other than the right-wing viewpoint will not be tolerated. And it links to posts calling the press "anti-America" and advocating press blackouts when the press won't report what Republican governments want them to report.

This is especially chilling because the context of the post is "terrorists." Think about where these people are taking the country.
And what fascist nastiness did Blackfive utter to chill Johnson to the bone?
At some point, you have to pick sides. Not choosing a side is choosing not to be on our side.
Like the military, members of Congress and our other elected representatives likewise swear an oath to defend the Constitution, and fail to live up to that commitment.

The point Blackfive, and many other Military Bloggers make, has nothing to do with the press reporting "what Republican governments want them to report."

It has everything to do with willful ignorance and misreporting of facts on the ground, "ground truth" as we say. We are here, and see what is to be seen every day. Many less reputable (and certainly less honorable) members of the press peddle falsehoods, actively promulgate propaganda from sworn enemies of the United States, hire Terrorist accomplices masquerading as "freelancers," and otherwise seek to turn every news report into a childish exercise of "how can we use this to make Bush look bad?"

Either left leaning commentators like Johnson are too biased to see that for what is is, or they think we (and a majority of your fellow Americans) are too stupid to see it.

If the press will publish bad news, at least just stick to facts. Avoid subjectivity and judgment. Present context. Maintain perspective. Recognize agendas. Don't be a patsy, any fool can tell when something's staged. If some positive news can be included, that would be nice too.

If it weren't for MILBLOGGERS, there'd be no positive voices out there at all. And yet as few as we are, you suggest we should be silenced, and portray us as those who would deny anyone the right to dissent or vocalize their opinion.

Astonishing in its complete separation from reality.

What did Blackfive say again?
At some point, you have to pick sides. Not choosing a side is choosing not to be on our side.
In other other words (ones that are connected to reality), maintaining some bizarre sense of impartiality or neutrality (or objectivity, which would probably be okay if any of the Old New Journalists knew what that word meant), in the face of brutal inhumanity is to be on the side of evil. When a terrorist intentionally targets innocents, women and children, families, any form of non-combatant, they are not deserving of any sympathy or respect. And to remain non-judgmental about them is to condone and tolerate evil. And that, my morally tone-deaf friends, puts you on the other side.

UPDATE: I meant to link to two earlier pieces, a discussion of New Journalism, and a debate over "liberal bias" in media over at Debate Space.

UPDATE UPDATE: I took the time to read the excellent commentary of United Press International (UPI) Reporter Pam Hess, as linked by Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette.

Hess, who served as an embedded reporter in Iraq, reports:
...most soldiers do not recognize the Iraq they read about in the newspaper or see on TV, and it is deepening a gulf they feel with the media and with a large sector of America. The same goes for their family, friends and strangers who read soldiers' many blogs about their war experience.

The two realities just don't track.
Hess does a terrific job of capturing the disconnect between what's most commonly (and widely) reported from Iraq and what the avergae GI here experiences here. I feel that disconnect every day. I try to describe for those back home that my soldiers and I don't feel practically at risk or in danger, even out on convoys. We are alert, and prepared for trouble, but time and personal experience has taught us: that we can't predict when or if we will be the ones in the wrong place at the wrong time; that our own preparedness decreases likelihood of attack; and that we are more likely to suffer a physical training injury than be killed or even wounded in combat. (Or, for that matter, to even see any combat.)

Hess describes the cognitive dissonance in this way:
The dissonance between my own experience and the facts in front of me revealed an important truth about this war.

Iraq is like the elephant and the blind men. In that parable, the blind men describe the elephant as they experience it. One, holding the tusk, says an elephant is smooth, hard and sharp. One, feeling the belly, says it is soft and wrinkled. Another, holding the trunk, says it is long, thin and muscular.

Each is right. Each is wrong.
No doubt this is true, to a point. That is, to the point that comparisons are made or context is provided, something that happens somewhere in a continuum between objective reporting and subjective editorial commentary. And as the discredited (Old) New Journalism tore down that wall of separation between fact and opinion, the ability of readers to make intelligent judgments about what they were reading evaporated.

Hess concludes with a doctrine, which if fairly executed, would be a hopeful middle ground between what the Soldier sees as ground truth, and what the Reporter believes needs to be told:
There should only be true stories, accurately told.

Iraq is a deceptive place, with thousands of narratives running through it. None is more right or wrong than the blind men describing the elephant.
Links: Basil's Blog, Indepundit, Jo's Cafe, Outside the Beltway, bRight & Early, The Command T.O.C., Blogotional

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