Accuracy in Media

Defense Secretary’s Rumsfeld’s speech on Iraq, in which he strongly criticized the conduct of the U.S. media, deserves to be read in its entirety. Unfortunately, the Secretary expressed the false hope that the media might be persuaded to come around to responsible journalism. 

He said, “it’s important also for the media to hold itself to account.” Well, don’t count on it, Mr. Secretary.

Remember how Newsweek had published that phony Koran-in-the-toilet story. Rumsfeld mentioned it, saying, “Not too long ago, there was a false and terribly damaging story about a Koran that was supposedly flushed down a toilet in Guantanamo, and in the riots that followed in several countries, some people were killed.”

Yet nobody was fired or even reprimanded by Newsweek over that false story. So much for accountability from the media.

Rumsfeld said that “?almost every time I meet with troops, I am asked the same question: they ask why aren’t the American people being given an accurate picture of what’s happening in Iraq?”

The American Legion, the veterans group, has the answer. Noting that “Progress and daily accomplishments by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan often go unreported in the media,” it is asking family and friends of deployed personnel to share letters and photos of “the other side of the story.”

The media still want none of it. Tom Brokaw’s NBC News special, “To War and Back,” about soldiers in Iraq, was described as probing “the personal costs and tragic consequences for the soldiers from the war in Iraq?while raising the issue of leaders’ neglect.”

Yes, there have been failures by the Bush Administration. But what about the failures by our media? We have a media that have done almost everything possible to undermine the prospect of victory in Iraq.

Understanding that the war is being fought on the battlefield of ideas, Rumsfeld has tried to change the terms of the debate. At a Pentagon press briefing, he questioned the use of the term “insurgents” to describe the terrorists in Iraq. He suggested more appropriate terms, including “terrorists” and “enemies of the government.”

Words have consequences.

While some might say it’s too late to change the terms of the debate, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy suggests starting from scratch and replacing the phrase “war on terror” with “War for the Free World.” That’s the subtitle of his new book, “War Footing,” which argues that we have to get serious about the challenges that lie ahead for our nation. I contributed to the chapter on the United Nations problem. 

The book’s website is at It is well worth reading.

The American Forces Press Service carried a story about Rumsfeld’s remarks, under the headline, “Terrorists Can Win Only in U.S., Media.”

That’s the truth. The terrorists understand the lesson passed on by the Vietnamese communists. But will history repeat itself?  We have the benefit of learning from history, and knowing that America can’t suffer another such defeat. Our survival is at stake.

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