Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post has pulled out of a Pentagon-sponsored Freedom Walk to commemorate 9/11 and support our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan because it was deemed too political. Meanwhile, the New York Times, CBS, and other news organizations have joined with the ACLU in demanding that the Pentagon release more sensational photos and videos of Iraqi prisoner abuse. The inevitable result of such disclosure, according to General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is that Islamic terrorists will exploit the material and kill Americans. Do our media care?

Our media will rally around a reporter who goes to jail to protect her sources. But when the Pentagon tries to keep potential propaganda material from falling into the hands of the enemy, the media are in court with the ACLU against the Pentagon.

The American people have to wise up to the media’s tricks. We are involved in a propaganda war that may be more important than what happens on the battlefield. Newsweek’s false “Koran in the toilet” story was only one example of how we are losing the media war. It caused violent protests across the Middle East and 17 deaths. The new prisoner abuse images, obtained by an Army soldier who helped uncover the scandal, is not “false” in the Newsweek sense. But it will be exploited to give a false or warped perception of what U.S. military personnel are doing in Iraq. As Myers says in a court document, “It is probable that Al-Qaeda and other groups will seize upon these images and videos as grist for their propaganda mill which will result in, besides violent attacks, increased terrorist recruitment, continued financial support, and exacerbation of tensions between the Iraqi and Afghani populaces and U.S. and Coalition forces.”

Actually, it won’t just be Al Qaeda. Our own media will endlessly exploit the photographs. The story will be so big that cable-television news might temporarily drop the Natalee Holloway story. Our media seem to operate by the standard of using and exploiting anything that will undermine the war and President Bush. Lately, this has been Cindy Sheehan, the poor brainwashed mother of a dead soldier. But more Abu Ghraib photos would be too good to ignore, at least for most of our media.  

We have to face up to the fact that the enemy has the U.S. on the run, using our own media against us. When Al Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, recently threatened a Vietnam in Iraq, he was referring to an American defeat but it’s clear that he was not just referring to the military aspect of the conflict. The U.S. was not defeated militarily in Vietnam. We lost because our own media came to believe it was a cause not worth fighting. That caused the American people to lose heart and the Congress to cut and run. We are seeing the same thing happen in regard to Iraq. And the worst may be yet to come. A ruling in the ACLU case by Clinton-appointed U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein could come on August 30.

Incredibly, the major media are supporting a friend-of-the-court brief submitted on behalf of the ACLU in demanding that the Defense Department release the photographs and videos depicting alleged prisoner abuse and torture. The news and press organizations endorsing the brief are The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, CBS Broadcasting, NBC Universal, The Hearst Corporation, The New York Times Co., the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Advance Publications, the E.W. Scripps Company, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Newspaper Guild and the Tribune Company.

The press groups insist it’s all about making sure the Department of Defense obeys the Freedom of Information Act in making the material available. But they have to know the material will be exploited by our enemy and cause more Americans to die. Do they even care?

The 11-page brief argues that the Pentagon’s “fear of violent public reaction to the disclosure” is not enough to keep the material out of the hands of Al Qaeda and Al-Jazeera.

How can the U.S. win a war when our own media seem so willing to provide propaganda for the other side? Those working side-by-side with the ACLU are some of our biggest media companies.

General Myers says in his declaration in the case that the images, if released, “will increase the likelihood of violence against United States interests, personnel, and citizens worldwide.” Based on the Newsweek example, one has to conclude that he has a valid point.

In fact, Myers cites the Newsweek story, noting that, in addition to the 17 deaths in Afghanistan, it sparked anti-U.S. demonstrations in the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Sudan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia.

“Insurgents in Afghanistan have a relatively sophisticated and aggressive information operations campaign,” Myers notes. In Iraq, “The insurgents will use any means necessary to incite violence and, specifically, will focus on perceived U.S. or Coalition mistreatment of Iraqi civilians and detainees as a propaganda and recruiting tool to aid their cause.”  

Compare the enemy’s propaganda machine to that of the Pentagon, which can’t even hold on to the Washington Post as a sponsor of an event honoring the victims of 9/11 and U.S. military personnel. The Post’s pull-out from the Freedom Walk demonstrates how the management of a major paper can be intimidated by the far-left “anti-war” movement, including its own staff reporters, when the issue was simply remembering the victims of 9/11 and supporting our military men and women. When the paper pulled out, the Post itself noted that the sponsorship of the event had been “criticized by members of the antiwar movement and by journalists in the paper’s own newsroom?” A “peace activist” was quoted as saying he welcomed the Post’s “change of heart.” Al Qaeda must have been pleased as well. Patriotic Americans should be outraged.

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