Monday, June 19, 2006

Media and the Military

Some people chastise me for being too hard on the media when it comes to their reporting on military matters. They say that I am unwarranted in my criticisms and that I should be more careful because I influence hatred of the media in others.

Why exactly do I detest the coverage the media provides about Iraq and Afghanistan? Why do I often blame them for encouraging terrorists to continue fighting? Why is it that I believe most media types are unfit to report on the military? Why do I cringe when I watch the news and read papers? There is one simple answer for all of these questions: Those reporting on the military have no clue what they are talking about because they have never been in the military.

Now I can see many objections to my viewpoint. I can already hear people saying things like “Well journalists cover things everyday that they have no direct experience with.” And if you feel this way then you are somewhat right. Female reporters cover football every Sunday and I am willing to bet that they never played on an NFL team. Bob Costas covers the Olympics every few years and I am pretty sure he never actually competed in them. The difference between covering sports etc. and covering the military is that when covering the military people’s lives are on the line and the world’s opinion is a result of the news coming out of the war zone. If people who have no clue what it is like to serve in the military, to risk their life day in and day out, to shoulder a large burden at a young age all the while being judged by the world for every mistake or misstep then they cannot accurately report the news. Sure they can talk about the latest body count or bomb but can they explain why soldiers want to go home while still feeling a strong pull to stay in the war zone to ensure things continue to improve?

Dinesh D’Souza, a prominent conservative author and thinker who happens to be a man I admire greatly, said in an interview conducted early last year concerning Kerry and Bush that “If I was in a foxhole I’d take Kerry. But we’re not electing the president to jump in your foxhole. Who’s the better man is not always the best way to go.” D’Souza was talking about his choice to vote for Bush over Kerry because he felt Bush was a better leader although Kerry appeared to be the better man. What D’Souza could never know because he never served in the military is what exactly it takes to be a good military man. Although it isn’t part of my main argument I’ll share what I think it takes to be a good military man. What it takes to be a military man (and a good man in general) is someone who is selfless and willing to put other’s needs before their own while at the same time setting the example for them to follow (not coping-out after 4 months in country). Kerry embodied neither of these traits and therefore I would never care to share a foxhole with him, I am not sure if I could even share the same state with him. Also after serving in a confined area with people for an extended period of time you learn to recognize if other people have what it takes to endure when the times get tough and situations get rough. You’ll never know until you are there and until then all is speculation.

The MSM’s ignorance of the military leads them to make judgments that they aren’t qualified to make. When the media, in all their ignorance, makes judgments about how things are going in Iraq they are influencing the world. They have the world’s attention because they are in Iraq and if they are in Iraq they surely must know what they are talking about. Case in point: During my first deployment in 2003 I spent some time at the Abu Gharib prison right as it was opening for business. After I left a small element from my unit stayed there for another eight months. We left Iraq the week before the “abuse” story was released to the general public. I remember sitting in the den in my house watching as Dan Rather reported to the world about the “atrocities” that occurred in the prison. Forget the torture chambers that I walked through where blood was still splattered on the walls from Saddam’s happier days; there were naked Iraqis with dogs barking at them! Toward the end of the show Danny boy showed a couple pictures of dead prisoners and said something to the effect of “And here are some pictures of dead prisoners, we can only guess at how they died!” Oh really Dan, thanks for the expert reporting. My guess is that those prisoners either died from natural causes or died after getting shot by a soldier for rioting and trying to kill American soldiers as happened from time to time. Or maybe they were killed by their own people who often lobbed mortars into the prison in hopes that they would hit Americans.

I remember hearing another story about Abu Ghraib at the same time that the “abuse” story was making headlines. This lesser known story was about the terrorists who were supposedly targeting their own people inside their prison so that they wouldn’t have to live through the horrors of getting naked and having a female take pictures with them. Bulls$*t. The reason the mortars were killing the prisoners was because the terrorists couldn’t aim properly and just fired in the general direction of the prison and hoped for the best result. The media of course needed another sensational story to back up the already sensational one circulating on the nightly news. What better way to do that then to make something up all on their own. Who cared if it was accurate it sure sounded good.

My point is that media types who have no prior military service should be listened to with a cautionary ear. Yeah they might be able to explain to you generalities but they will never be able to get into the mind of soldiers. They will never be able to understand how their words hurt those they are trying to report about. They will never be able to know these things because they have never served. Heck, half the time they can’t even label pictures with military ordinance and machinery correctly. There are some good reporters and bloggers out there who have never served in the military but they are few and far between.

The part of winter quarter at school I was able to get in before I was deployed in 2003 I had a history teacher tell my class one day that if we ever wanted to get into politics then it would behoove us to join the military. He knew then, as all Americans know now, that military service can be used as a stepping-stone for other careers. I would urge all prospective media wannabes to join the military, whatever branch they want to, so as to gain an understanding for the military. If they do so then they will be much more able to accurately represent those who mean so much to our country.

Until the time comes when those reporting on the military have served themselves I will not cut the media any breaks. I don’t care who I offend because the media has offended me time and time again. I had a dream the other night that the media wanted us to win the war against terrorism and as a result started reporting the truth, but then I woke up and hit my head on the ceiling of my trailer and was reminded that like the media life sometimes sucks.


john said...


MissBirdlegs in AL said...

...and AMEN! Boggs, I can't see how you could influence me to despise the media any more than I already do. With no military experience other than a husband in the NG & and son in the Navy (years ago), I read enough to be able to catch the media out in a lot of instances of stretching or making up a story. They could be as much of a help as they are a hindrance with just a little effort on their parts. They're lazy!

Anonymous said...

Another Amen and we already hate the MSM so you didn't lead us astray. We catch enough mistakes by the MSM on the things we do know about, from child rearing to health, science, and geography that we wouldn't trust them to tell us about something we don't know about (like fighting a war) either. You are right that there are a FEW good correspondents covering this war who haven't been in the Military - but they have usually been embedded and traveled enough to have learned a good bit though they can never see it exactly as you do - and they are fair in their reporting. Fox News has a few who are good as well as a FEW others from magazines and such. But face it - reporters working even for Fox have their hands tied as money is the bottom line with the news business and it is cheaper to report from a hotel in Baghdad than from an embedded position and less dangerous. I guess I just had to defend a few- - a little. You did say that there were a FEW. You hit the nail on the head once again. Will vote for you when you run, by the way. And thanks Sgt Boggs for taking the time to write for us all. We appreciate it more than we can express. And yes, life does suck sometimes as much as bad reporting does. Thanks for all you are doing. Keep your head down and da** those low ceilings. Top bunk?A&N

windypoo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
windypoo said...

Greetings, Sgt! I am relieved to see today's post and am thankful to find you safe.

Even more devastating to me than the lies told by our own media is the danger that they put our troops in everytime they scramble to be the first with their latest story, feeling no shame in divulging information that may need to be kept secret for the protection of our soldiers and/or our nation. I know that everything I see, hear and read about our military's missions can be seen, heard and read by our enemies.

Please do stay safe ... we are always thinking of you and your brothers & sisters over there. Believe that while you do this for us, we are doing all we can at home to ensure respect and understanding for all of our troops.

strykeraunt said...

You are singing to the choir!! I learned a couple of years ago not to believe what I hear from the media. When my nephews were deployed they would write and email the same thing. I have never served in the military or been to Iraq but I was not blinded by what they reported and saw how there was too much information that was just plain wrong. However, I still feel the rage when I see them get it wrong time and time again.

I will not go into what I felt about the Abu Graib reporting except to say that I felt they took the campaign season reporting to a new low (and have never recovered in my opinion). I know how much they have hurt the soldier's with their horrible speculative reporting because I felt the pain the entire time my nephews were deployed. I quit relying on them as my news source and now use internet. If I hear something on the news, I will usually go to the internet to try to find out what is really happening. It is great to get the information from those who have been there, are there right now, or at the very least can put the situation into a military perspective.

So, I agree with you 100%. I can only hope that you too can remember that everyone does not buy into their crap. This is why Mil bloggers have become so popular, because there are so many who just want the truth.

Bag Blog said...

A few years ago, I remember sitting in my livingroom watching the MSM report that all exit polls showed that Kerry had won the Presidential election - no way could Bush win. I remember thinking, "Who did they poll - certainly no one I knew." When the dust cleared and they were proved wrong (or liars), I wondered why they had reported as they did. What was their agenda? Were they trying to sway the American people into believing a lie and therefore get them to vote for Kerry? Was it just wishful thinking? So why do they report on the war as they do now? What is their agenda now? I have to hope the American people will, once again, see through the smoke and mirrors and know what is truth. I think Americans are smarter than the MSM gives them credit for being. I, for one, rarely believe anything I see or read in the MSM.

It reminds me of the opening lines of "Gunga Din" : YOU may talk o' gin an' beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But if it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.

Hang in there Mr. Boggs.

Agnieszka O. said...

I haven't trusted MSM long before I started to read your blog...:-)
Stay safe.

Melinda said...

When you're ready to run, I make some pretty mean campaign signs. :) And people said cheerleading wasn't a useful activity! LOL

In all seriousness, you've hit the nail on the head yet again.

I'm heartsick today at the news of our two troops lost after being captured. I'm sure, however, that the abject disdain the media has shown for our supposed treatment of prisoners will not be now aimed at those who have no value for human life, whether it be their own countrymen or our soldiers.

I pray for you each day, SGT and will continue to do so.

CJ said...

Well said, Boggs. You'll not get any criticism from here!

sunguh5307 said...

+1 on that.

Nothing more to say really, just don't count me as one who's surprised that no one pays too much attention to these self-righteous blowhards these days.

Dan said...

When I was a teenager may Dad(AF, S/Sgt) did two tours in Viet Nam. I learned then that the MSM didn't know anything about the military and that they LIED without end. Through the 70's when I was in the AF, the 80's a year in Saudi and then back to school to finish my degree, I saw and heard the MSM's lies and stupidity. It has not stopped since then. The MSM has been Pink shaded to Red since the 60's. It has only gotten worse.

The MSM the best friend the enemies of the US have ever had. They hardly ever lose a chance to stab the US in the back. It is only the last few years that they have felt the need to be a little more carefull with the military. They can't so openly attack them as they used to.

Hate the MSM? How can you hate something that low, that disgusting? You step on it whenever you can, otherwise you ignore them.

Maureen said...

I just found your website. I'm not personally connected to the military or the media. I'm a working registered nurse, single mom with three kids, struggling to help pay for their college. I've been quietly watching this war, listening to the president and watching the media. I want to thank you. Thank you for working so hard, so long, to secure our freedoms. It is only for people such as yourself that I get to do my work in peace and see my children grow. God bless you! You and your comrades make me proud to be an American. Thank you so much!

Gypsy said...

Glad to see your post today t.f., was beginning to worry a bit.

Trying to get the media to understand how and what they "report" affects the Military is like banging your head against the garage door...or in your case the trailer. ;) Hope your noggin' is ok.

I, like many others, don't feel you "influence" anyone re the media. You're expressing your disgust, sharing it with your readers and rightfully so. Honestly anyone with two brain cells to rub together should be able to see that they don't report the full story.

Stay safe and stay strong t.f., we appreciate you.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on the MSM... Some members of Congress are becoming of rival of the MSM. Its time to replace them. I realize that the military members don't make it a habit of publically commenting on members of congress but for all your readers of your blog = lets get Murtha out or office he is saying and acting deplorable when it comes to our military. I am from Calif so I don't have a vote but I have $$$$ I am supporting his opponent "" Stay safe!

jordan said...

Sgt., No one can stand in judgment of what a person does to stay alive in a combat situation. The second guessing here is opportunistic and sickening, almost as sickening as what was done to these two heroes.

If I didn't know what was behind that door, I'd throw a grenade. No, I wouldn't peek in to see who's there, and I'd slap silly any family member of mine who did.

What happened to these two soldiers is the reason the Marines at Haditha aggressively cleared that house. Whatever the details, which NONE of us knows, they knew the consequences of capture, having eyeballed this enemy.

Would you take that chance, and risk having your eyes gouged out rather than risk a civilian getting schrapnel? Not I, and I wouldn't respect any man who did.

The MSM does not have the pulse of America. This is a lesson the enemy has yet to understand. What they read in US media does not reflect the feelings or likely responses of most Americans. The vast majority of Americans support whatever it takes to defeat this enemy, and come home alive, and see these prosecutions as insane.

These two soldiers' deaths, in a perverse way, provide justification for aggressive self protection by our forces. To have you guys sitting through a values lecture while these two boys were being disemboweled is...surreal. And unacceptable.

We've not only lost two good men, we've lost clarity.

T. F. Boggs said...

Thanks for your concern but I am doing well I just had a dry blogging spell but I should have more coming up soon.

Thanks for the support and I realized when I wrote the post that I was most likely going to be preaching to the choir. Keep searching for the truth and if you have to watch the news do so with a discerning eye. I am glad some new readers are here and I hope you come back again.

tanksis said...

Personnally, Sgt., I will never bear sorrow at the news of a wounded or killed journalist--I am just waiting for one to have done to them what those animals did to our boys. Maybe then the terrorists will be seen for what they truly are.

I am insensed at the lack of outrage in the media today. But this proves many of the points you have made about the MSM time and again. Instead of being morally outraged, they are instead using this atrocity as propaganda for why we should get out. How disgusting. I do truly wonder how they sleep peacefully at night.

You keep telling your truth, Sgt., as I have encouraged others. Screw the MSM. I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist--but I often have to wonder as to why the MSM has such a stronghold that we cannot seem to penetrate. Like A&N said, there are a FEW out there who do try, like Bill O'Reilly. Love him or hate him, he does make an effort to be fair and especially so when it comes to our troops. His outrage last night over the despicable acts perpetrated against PFC's Menchaca and Tucker was evident, unlike the rest of his peers. And like him, I hope the military leaders stand up and let you guys do what you have to do--screw all this PC crap.

Stay strong, stay safe.

membrain said...

That sums up the situation very well Sgt. Boggs. I dare say the average 24 year old American male NOT serving in the military has not an iota of a clue of the HUGE responsibilities the rest on the shoulders of Sergeant such as yourself serving active duty in a war zone. Well done.

Huntress said...

Well Said!

Loved your new dispatch on Michael Yon's Frontline Forum.

I have spent a good amount of time with Qayyarah residents, and I am quite certain that if America only knew more stories of towns like theirs, the picture that many people across the world have of Iraq right now would change. The smaller changes in Iraq like those that have taken place in Qayyarah are not always deemed "newsworthy" by the media but are of immense importance.

Keep sharing these stories with us, Tim, and we will pass them along. Where the media fails, you succeed!

Stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Greetings from the 'Rat Pack' of Central Ohio! James J. sends his regards, and when I met him on the plane from Iraq, he impressed me as a sharp & squared away young man, the kind us folks at home need to meet more often.

When we were discussing the bad reporting on the TV at the airport, he suggested I tune in to your blog. Thanks for the tip James!

FYI, I have posted a hyperlink for our local message board, and we will keep reading.

God be with you! No matter what the media says, we still know who the good guys relly are!

Sincerely, F.B,

Anonymous said...

I'm about to head over there, not there yet. The pure and simple of it all is your Mom and Dad and Wife and kids aren't going to care 1 millionth as much about an article on how you gave water to some kid who isn't even American (federalized charity is ridiculous) as they are about an article concerning how safe or not safe you are. The media just reports what people want to know. That simple. I mean think about it. Do you care more about a building being built for some random foreign country that technically should serve America for the rest of its existence since we provided them a chance for freedom through great Americans making the ultimate sacrifice. Too great a sacrifice required. The US Army and military in general should not be a charity organization, it should be an instrument to destroy the nations enemies, not worry about whether they piss them off or not.

Anonymous said...

Be interesting to see what you have to say, Anonymous, after you have actually been there (Iraq)for awhile. Believe it or not mothers and fathers can have to thoughts at the same time - -not either or- - In a way we agree with you that our great Military should fight wars and not be welfare workers. But tell us, where are all the do gooders who want to help people so much when there is real danger around? There are a few civilians working their rears off and some are giving their lives to help the Iraqis but in general the do gooders are sitting on their asses in a safe place running down our Military. I hope you will comment further after you have been in Iraq for awhile. As for me the MSM gives us nothing! A&N

T. F. Boggs said...

Obviously you haven't been to Iraq yet. Once you get here you will realize there are other things to think about besides destroying stuff. Sorry to inform you but you missed out on the destroying stuff side of this war. No we have to pick stuff up, rebuild, patrol, and keep the peace.
Families back home do care about the day to day stuff because that lets them know that what we are doing here is making a difference. A family that only cares about one thing-the safety of their loved one-does not have a greater perspective than themselves. There are bigger things in this world besides the individual and if I could choose to give my self to further the lives of others then I would do so.

strykeraunt said...

I found the poem below in a comment section of another site and felt it would be appropriate here.

Monsters and the Weak by Michael Marks

The sun beat like a hammer, not a cloud was in the sky.
The mid-day air ran thick with dust, my throat was parched and dry.

With microphone clutched tight in hand and cameraman in tow,
I ducked beneath a fallen roof, surprised to hear "stay low."

My eyes blinked several times before in shadow I could see,
the figure stretched across the rubble, steps away from me.

He wore a cloak of burlap strips, all shades of gray and brown,
that hung in tatters till he seemed to melt into the ground.

He never turned his head or took his eye from off the scope,
but pointed through the broken wall and down the rocky slope.

"About eight hundred yards," he said, his whispered words concise,
"beneath the baggy jacket he is wearing a device."

A chill ran up my spine despite the swelter of the heat,
"You think he's gonna set it off along the crowded street?"

The sniper gave a weary sigh and said "I wouldn't doubt it,"
"unless there's something this old gun and I can do about it."

A thunderclap, a tongue of flame, the still abruptly shattered;
while citizens that walked the street were just as quickly scattered.

Till only one remained, a body crumpled on the ground,
The threat to oh so many ended by a single round.

And yet the sniper had no cheer, no hint of any gloat,
instead he pulled a logbook out and quietly he wrote.

"Hey, I could put you on TV, that shot was quite a story!"
But he surprised me once again -- "I got no wish for glory."

"Are you for real?" I asked in awe, "You don't want fame or credit?"
He looked at me with saddened eyes and said "you just don't get it."

"You see that shot-up length of wall, the one without a door?
before a mortar hit, it used to be a grocery store."

"But don't go thinking that to bomb a store is all that cruel,
the rubble just across the street -- it used to be a school.

The little kids played soccer in the field out by the road,"
His head hung low, "They never thought a car would just explode."

"As bad as all this is though, it could be a whole lot worse,"
He swallowed hard, the words came from his mouth just like a curse.

"Today the fight's on foreign land, on streets that aren't my own,"
"I'm here today 'cause if I fail, the next fight's back at home."

"And I won't let my Safeway burn, my neighbors dead inside,
don't wanna get a call from school that says my daughter died;

I pray that not a one of them will know the things I see,
nor have the work of terrorists etched in their memory."

"So you can keep your trophies and your fleeting bit of fame,
I don't care if I make the news, or if they speak my name."

He glanced toward the camera and his brow began to knot,
"If you're looking for a story, why not give this one a shot."

"Just tell the truth of what you see, without the slant or spin;
that most of us are OK and we're coming home again.

And why not tell our folks back home about the good we've done,
how when they see Americans, the kids come at a run."

You tell 'em what it means to folks here just to speak their mind,
without the fear that tyranny is just a step behind;

Describe the desert miles they walk in their first chance to vote,
or ask a soldier if he's proud, I'm sure you'll get a quote."

He turned and slid the rifle in a drag bag thickly padded,
then looked again with eyes of steel as quietly he added;

"And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
that we are all that stands between the monsters and the weak."

Michael Marks
January 2006

...........please share this with your friends, family and those you think care about our heroes.....

Anonymous said...

Thank you Michael Marks

Gypsy said...

strykeraunt, thanks...that is a great poem.

The Mad Macedonian said...

Right on, Soldier!

Many people, stateside, are wondering this week about the silence, &/or appeasement, of many in the media, in the aftermath of the tragic murders of 2 of your comrades in arms.

You all need to know that the American People love you, and support you, and ARE expressing outrage.

I can say this with absolute certainty because I have been cataloging it for 3 days now in the post linked here with my name.

I added links to this essay, and the letter you sent to Hugh Hewitt, that he posted on his blog, because I think it is important that people read them.

Stay safe!

Gabriel said...

That the modern "media" is so out of touch and ignorant about even the most basic elements of military culture, yet will make every attempt to understand and wring their hands over how to nuance the Terrorists position, speaks "truth to power" in regards to whose side they are on in this war.

Dan C. said...

It will be a Wonderful Day when al-New York Times goes out of business and their editors are in jail where they belong!

arnfon said...

I have heard and read how in WWII activities such as what the MSM does now would be considered treason.
Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies.
2. A betrayal of trust or confidence.

It's time to call a spade a spade.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your post. I'm one of the many American citizens from Texas that likes to read from military blogs, so I can get the truth about what really is happening over in Iraq and Afganistan. Keep up the good work. Your right, the press is doing a terrible job. Thank God we have people like you that can tell us. We need to get the word out more. Send this to Hannity.