Saturday, March 25, 2006

True Reporting from Iraq

I feel like I am in the middle of a five-minute chess game right now that has been taking place so fast that I don’t have time to completely plan out my next move before the time runs out. In this chess game I am a pawn with the hands of someone much bigger controlling me, and with a panel of analysts describing the game. Sure I can move two spaces on my first move but after that I am relegated to moving one space at a time on the front lines while protecting the more important pieces and fighting it out in the middle with my enemy that is just like me. Those pieces behind me are more powerful, more mobile, and can do much more damage than I can, but-and this is a big but-they wouldn’t be safe if it wasn’t for me and the other pawns like me. We definitely don’t do anything too special, just our job, one space at a time. Once in awhile one of us gets lucky and turns into a queen but those occurrences are few and far between. For the most part we are the sacrificial pieces on the board and merely watch from the sidelines as the war at large is fought after we have come and gone.

The “chess” game I have in mind is the current battle going on between the MSM and outspoken MSM critics like Hugh Hewitt, Tim Graham, and Laura Ingraham to name a few. The big wigs are criticizing the media for misrepresenting the current conflict in Iraq. The media claim they are only showing the reality of the war on the streets and are better equipped to present the whole picture then the troops are. However, in this chess game the pawns are starting to speak up and make themselves heard. Where else would the Kings, Queens, and Bishops get their info about the front lines if it weren’t for the pawns? So with the chess board set lets see what one of the pawns has to say.

Of course if you have been a follower of my blog you already know what I think about the MSM and their reporting about Iraq, but incase you are a new reader let me fill you in on what I believe to be the truth about the media coverage on Iraq. I believe the media are following the age-old adage that “if it bleeds it leads.” Nobody wants to watch a normal boring day in Iraq: “So nothing to report today, everything was calm and even the weather was nice. Now back to you Chris.” How boring is that? So the American people want a little more from their news and blood and guts keeps a lot of them watching so that is what the news feeds them. News providers are out there to make money, pure and simple. If they don’t have viewers then they don’t sell ad time/space, if they don’t sell ads then they don’t get paid, if they don’t get paid then they are out of business and hungry. So they do what they can to make money, fine and dandy. The problem a lot of soldiers have, and a growing number of Americans have with the news lately, is that it does not show the whole picture of what is going on in Iraq. The problem with that is the rest of the world gets their information about the conflict in Iraq from the news, and if the news tells only the bad, then everyone gets a skewed picture of the reality in Iraq. This in turn leads to hatred towards the U.S. and spurs on our opposition. Just take a look at the way media propaganda was used in Vietnam.

This is primarily the problem soldiers have with the media. However, I believe there is another problem that hasn’t fully been looked at yet. When the media willingly chooses not to cover positive stories coming out of Iraq like infrastructure rebuilding, free medical care being provided by soldiers, complete changes for the better in cities like Tal Afar, and the kindness shown towards the children of Iraq by soldiers everyday to name a few, then soldiers feel slighted by the media. It is almost as if the media is saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, those are all great things but they don’t sell so I am not reporting them.” Soldiers tend to feel that media types do not care about what they are doing and do not care about telling the truth. These sentiments often lead to believing that the media has an agenda whether they actually do or not.

Is there any validity to the comment Michael Ware from Time magazine made on CNN the other night that the media are better equipped to present the whole picture about Iraq then soldiers are because soldiers are confined to one area? Well maybe, but I disagree that the media are at all better able to report the truth then soldiers are. Sure I might only be able to tell you about my area in Iraq but I bet I can identify a terrorist when he is sitting on the side of the road. I bet I can tell you what rocks have been moved and what signs just went up on my daily route. I could tell you about the different smells in the air and where exactly they come from. What I am getting at is that I know my area like the back of my hand. Reporters, I would argue, do not have the kind of expert knowledge that soldiers who are outside their base everyday do. Sure you may need to get a group of us together to get the full picture about what is going on in Iraq but you will learn a lot more from us then you would from any journalist who went through a three day Iraq survival course prior to reporting from Iraq.

Of course as with anything there are exceptions to what I am saying. There are some fine reporters out there who are doing a good job in such a hostile area as Iraq. There are some reporters who actually care about what happens in the world today and who care about getting the truth out. However, I do not believe the majority of reporters to be this way. I wont even start on “reporters” and “journalists” who purport to inform others about Iraq when they have never left their offices, never talked to a soldier, and never bothered to do any real research.

Keep in mind this isn’t just how I feel, check out the two previous interviews I did with soldiers in my platoon. Check out other soldier’s blogs like Buck Sargent. There are a growing number of us out there who are speaking up and will continue to do so until we see the truth about Iraq on the news. A lot more then soldiers feelings are at stake here, the future of Iraq is on the line and I don’t want the whole world believing that nothing good has come from our presence here.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sgt. Boggs,
You have once again hit the nail on the head. We read Hugh Hewitt today and Buck Sargent and many more of the voices who are rising up to proclaim the truth of this war and to proclaim what liars the MSM have become. It is a new revolution of Americans, Military and civilian who just won't take it sitting down anymore and are joining in the battle. You are pulling double duty, Sgt. Boggs and you are as big a piece, as important a player, as everyone in this war is, both against murdering terrorists and against a Main Stream Media that is aiding the enemy, whatever their motives be. We are proud of you for serving your country with everything you've got and you inspire us to do the same, day in and day out. We will win, Boggsy, on both of these fronts. Thanks for the great Blog!!! Your faithful readers and supporters,
Annie and Neatie

The Ugly American said...

Another very insightful post St. Boggs. As I pointed out yesterday in my post The Media does not understand the nature of war. The media has a fundamental misunderstanding. In the same interview you cited on CNN, Mr. Ware said that a reporter's job is to be objective and report the facts without looking through the prism of one side or the other.

I don't believe there is any such thing as a neutral party in war. Only fools who think they are neutral who are being used by one side or the other.

Would you agree?

The reporters we are complaining about work and live in the west. They are Americans, or as in Mr. Ware's case an Aussie (who also has soldiers in Iraq). By not reporting the good stories, by giving us "the enemy’s perspective" they are intentionally or naively aiding our enemy.

You touched on another point as well. Reporters never give a "fifty thousand foot view" of what’s going on in Iraq. They cover isolated incidents with no context as to why it occurred or what it was in response to.

This will always distort the larger reality.

Make sense?

tanksis said...

"The problem with that is the rest of the world gets their information about the conflict in Iraq from the news, and if the news tells only the bad, then everyone gets a skewed picture of the reality in Iraq. This in turn leads to hatred towards the U.S. and spurs on our opposition."

BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT, BRILLIANT. Not just that little piece, but the whole friggin' thing is a masterpiece. One of the President's speechwriters should be alerted to this dissertation, as I believe they could use it to help get the public in general to really understand our gripe with the LSM.

A&N, Amen to your thoughts, too! As I once alluded to in a response to another milblog, those who shout the loudest have totally underestimated citizens like ourselves, and our kick-ass men and women in uniform. They have totally underestimated the power of the internet and the blogs. They can control what we see and hear on TV, but they can't control what we see and hear on the internet. Boy, I know that burns their butts something fierce:-)

Great job, as always, Sgt Boggs. Your talent with the written word is amazing.

Anonymous said...

I love your commentors, Sgt. Boggs, and I find your blog site one of the few that really gets a debate going. We readers need that to encourage each other and create some action out here in the hightways and byways of America. Another great thing that the MSM does not give us. So another thought unmentioned. WHY, if you and I see the truth clerly, do most people not see the truth clearly. After all, I saw the truth that the MSM was misleading us long before I started reading Mike Yon, who was my first experience with the blog world. Are we so different from other news viewers world wide (who hate us), who swallow the lies? Two sides to this story - -the news givers and the news receivers. I wonder much about this and have my own ideas but nobody ever gives me a satisfying answer. After all, reporters are not the only responsible humans involved in this equation. Thanks again Boggs for your work and your readers. Annie

Anonymous said...

I read on Hugh Hewitt today that the President is starting to pay more attention to bloggers, which is obvious from his speeches this last few days. He should see Buck Sargent's video and use it for a visual example with his speeches as it would go a long way to show people some of what you men are fighting for over there. So much more can be done to get out the truth. We can all bring the blogs and videos in production today to as many people's attention as possible. We can be our own news reporters, in a way. Thank you Boggs and commentors. And we can support Boggs and Mike Yon and Buck and Hugh and the real Ugly American (I always laugh at that title)and do it in a real way!!

AngelinMI said...

Love your blog site. Keep blogging and telling us like it is. What I did was in response to my local paper running typical MSM stories was cancel my subscription and write a letter to the editor. Thank you for serving our country and telling us like it really is. Also I no longer watch MSM news and get my news from reliable sources and I let everyone I talk to know about fine organizations, such as Soldiers' Angels.

the dude said...

Way to go bro!

JohnD said...

Sgt. Boggs,
Thank you for your insights.
We all have to keep in mind that the major media are indeed companies who want to be profitable.
I'll take your views any day over the views of someone who is only adding to their resume.
You may not see the big picture, but you certainly see the gains you and your fellow soldiers have made. If we never heard from you or Buck Sargent or Capt. B. or the other pawns we would never know that anything positive is happening.
You soldiers are all amazing. We should hear boasts about what accomplishments are being done, instead of hearing about how close to civil war Iraq is.
The LSM doesn't remember that our own Revolutionary War didn't create a stable democracy in three years.
You guys will all go down in history as the best thing that could have ever happened to freedom for the world!


I already made these comments over at Real Ugly Am's site, but I thought I'd share them with you too Boggs, just for gits and shiggles. Great post, btw. (Is it just me, or can you start to feel the worm turning as far as the MSM backlash is concerned? One thing I know for certain is that when I get home again, I'm done with newspapers forever. They've totally discredited themselves in my eyes, and I really just have no more use for them. Let them have to rely on personals and auto-trader ads to survive. I really don't care.)

The media have always shown themselves perfectly able to make distinctions between cause and effect and report rationally on subjects that they believe in or care about. This is why I can't just give them a pass on this one and blame it on incompetance or ignorance. Their negative coverage is ideological at its core. It's a liberal "loser's syndrome" of being out of power for so long and feeling their influence wane with the rise of the New Media. Honestly, I feel this began with the creation of FoxNews. Although it's really not THAT conservative of a channel, it was the first time that someone dared trustbust their media monopoly on the news and the national agenda. And I think it sent the already unbalanced left into a tailspin of insanity from which they've yet to recover. Every year it has only gotten worse, like having to watch as a twisted uncle you despised for having molested you as a child slowly slips into senility and demensia in his old age and now you just feel nothing but pity for him. (Okay, that was a bit over the top).

But I'm old enough to recall Mogadishu and Haiti and Bosnia and Kosovo and never once do I recall this level of vitriol in the press or the public for military engagements that were way more fuzzy and less relevant to our national interest than our Middle Eastern ones. I can't imagine that military casualty numbers explain away all of this disparity. The casualty predictions made for the taking of Baghdad were breathlessly reported as being in the tens of thousands. Three years later, to still have less than were lost in the span of an hour in lower Mahattan I would say is pretty encouraging. Yet it's reported as a catastrophe. That simply is not serious or judicious reporting, as VDH said on HughHewitt recently.

I now believe (though I certainly didn't at the time) that if John Kerry had won the '04 election, it wouldn't have been an immediate catastrophe for the war. I don't believe he would have cut and run and brought all our forces home ASAP. I know that he would have arrived to find much starker realities in the Oval Office than there are on the campaign trail. But I do believe that suddenly, miraculously, the Iraq War would have become a smashing success story. John Kerry, with a wave of his magic arm, would have caused the violence to ebb, the sectarian tension to end, and would have created enough fully-trained and equipped Iraqi Special Forces commandos to individually guard every street corner in the Sunni Triangle.

Do I believe that would be reality? No, of course not. The reality will be a much harder and longer road, although we are currently traveling down that path at a steady pace. The difference is that the mainstream coverage -- the prime, and often ONLY, means by which many Americans receive their information about the war, would suddenly and miraculously perform an about face. And this would be purely for ideological reasons.

I don't begrudge anyone their particular ideological biases or opinions, but when it begins to poison Objective Journalism to the point where the line between newspaper and tabloid are blurred... something is very wrong. And it's certainly not healthy for the future of our republic.

tanksis said...

Buck Sargent, you can sure say that again!!!!! How true, how true.

yankeemom said...

I've also addressed this on my blog because it it just fries my fritters!
As a mother of a soldier, I thank you, TF and Buck Sargent, for speaking up about this. The thought of these so called professional reporters endangering our troops lives to get their story (which as has been proven, may not even be true)is beyond the pale for me. My daughter may be one of them over there one day and I can't begin to tell you what I would do to a reporter if face to face with one. But it wouldn't be pretty. My heart goes out to all the families of soldiers that have to hear the BS everyday spewed forth by the media. WE must not be quiet anymore. Bless you all ~

Huntress said...

Well said, TF and Buck.

I just wrote a piece entitled: The Art of War: Using The Media Elites.

When I hear the ignorant comments come from the mouths of liberal media elites, I understand how very little they comprehend about the nature of our enemy. Sadly, our enemies have studied Sun Tzu and with the help from an all too willing coalition of liberal media elites - they have found the way to win this war.

"So in war the way is to avoid what is strong and strike at what is weak".

Avoid what is strong(our Military) and strike at what is weak(Liberal Americans 'will' or lack there off.)

Keep writing the truth!
Stay safe!

T. F. Boggs said...

I do agree with you RUA. I dont believe that there can be neutral parties in war. You either have to want one side or the other to win. Everyone has a bias, I dont care who you are. You think and believe a certain way and you want others to do so as well. To try to say you are a neutral party in the fight against terrorism is ridiculous. You are either for it or against it, you cannot not care who wins between freedom or terrorism.
I like the point the Huntress made about Sun Tzu. I think she hit the nail on the head and I think that is the only way our enemy right now can defeat us. Heres hoping they dont.

Charles said...

It's kinda funny...

Back when I was in the Army, '84-'86 under Pres. Reagan, nobody really cared about politics in the Army. No one talked about the political situation because they had no voice.

Now that blogging has given so many people a voice, the MilBlogs have taken off. The MSM cannot quiet this independent voice and it is great!!

Do to all the shit that we have been fed by the MSM, I think everyone has had enough and are fighting back and the Army is getting involved in that fight!

Great job Boggs and Buck!!

Thank you for protecting us Americans....and the rest of the world.

Praguetwin said...

Nice Post.

On this issue of soldiers getting involved, I just wanted to throw in something a soldier once told me. He said, "I gave up my right to an opinion so that you can express yours."

I'm not saying that you shouldn't be doing this blog (quite the contrary), but the idea struck me as a bold one. The quiet soldier, bravely going about the business of protecting the freedom of people who he doesn't know, or even agree with.

I wonder if you know anyone in your outfit that has this same "opinion".


"When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen."
-George Washington

'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

"The media claim they are only showing the reality of the war on the streets and are better equipped to present the whole picture then the troops are."

Journalists and especially western reporters have a false sense of the danger in iraq because journalists and especially westerners are specifically targeted by terrorists because the media is the best way to spread terror.

Showing the reality of the war on the streets ignores the reality of the peace in the kurdish areas, the peace in the Shi'ite south, the reality of the elections, the reality of reconstruction, and the reality of economic progress.

For this reason journalists are the least equipped to present the whole picture of US involvement in Iraq. The troops know about the terrorism, but they also know about successful military operations and reconstruction which the media never reports.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. You accuse the media of not taking the 50,000 foot view. But isn't that what soldiers do too? We are in foxholes, with a limited view of what we see. Sometimes we see god. And sometimes bad, depending on what part of Iraq we are in, how big or wide or small our foxhole is. The soldier who has a good experience says, damn media, didn't report it. The soldier who lost guy after guy in VBID attacks says, bad bad bad. How do you expect the MSM to sort through this when they are in a foxhole too?

T. F. Boggs said...

I am guessing the last comment was for me so here is my answer. My criticism of the media stems from the fact that 95.9 % of what they report is bad. That remaining 4.1% is sometimes the good I want reported but mainly the good only consists of something like "Well it was a good day in Iraq because only a few people died." Now if I was seeing mainly bad, and I had friends across the country who were seeing only bad then I might cut the media a little slack, but it is not the case. In my foxhole and in my friend's foxholes around the country we see a lot of good. Good that goes unreported day in and day out. We also see some of the bad and that is primarily the only thing reported. Unless the media are only on the bad side of the street then I dont get it and it leads me to believe they aren't doing their job right. I expect the media to sort though all of the news because that is their job. They have no other job over here then to report the news and when they screw it up then they are not doing their job.