By now you’re all probably familiar with the video released by the US military that shows terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi fumbling with an American weapon known as a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). The guy looks like an incompetent fool – obviously, not a side he’d want those doing his bidding, as well as potential new terrorist recruits to see.
Anyone familiar with the way wars work knows that the utilizing the media as a useful tool against the enemy can work to your advantage if a military plays its cards right. Since just a few weeks after the war in Afghanistan, and starting immediately after the first shots were fired in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the media have done their level best to portray the military in its worst light by focusing on unfortunate incidents like Abu Ghraib and trumping up alleged “prisoner abuse” at Gitmo. The few times they try and portray anyone in the military as a hero usually involves one or more of the following criteria: 1) the person has to be a disgruntled military guy (or gal) like the generals who’ve spoken out strongly against Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld, 2) a woman they desperately want to pin hero status on (Jessica Lynch) who they build up to make the implied case for women on the front lines in the military, only to find out later that the story they’ve been trumping up for months is exactly that – trumped up, and by them, 3) the person has to be a Republican who has served in the military who strongly expresses their displeasure and/or disagreement over some or all aspects of the war in Iraq (Hagel, McCain, Powell for starters), or 4) the person has to be a Democrat military veteran who is either running for office or who is supposedly a military “hawk” – who is harshly critical of use of military force in Iraq.
But I digress.
Back to the point about the media being used as a tool, that obviously works both ways. The media know the sway they hold with the American people in terms of what they print, and they (let’s face it) are anti-war and hold a strong anti-military bias (scroll down in this post to read a candid admission of that anti-military bias by ABC Nightline’s Terry Moran) and that reflects in their writing. As a result of that, opinion of the war can sway one way or the other. The US military knows this as well, and will utilize the media to intimidate, embarass, and scare the enemy. Case in point: the Zarqawi video.
The media dutifully reported on the Zarqawi video, but wasted little time after the release of it to question if it was “good strategy” and helped trump up excuses for why he looked like a bumbling idiot. The NYT led the way with an almost sympathetic portrayal of Zarqawi in the video, and they did so by quoting current and former military folks (only two, as I recall, are quoted – but supposedly there are more) who essentially say “BFD – it’s an American weapon, of course he doesn’t know how to handle it.” Alrighty then. Zarqawi doesn’t know how to use an American weapon so we should cut him some slack. Ok.
The media has wasted no time letting us know that not only are ‘some’ in the military questioning the tactical use of the video, but that ‘some’ Iraqis are taking it a step further by condeming its release altogether.
What’s happened here is that the US media initially helped the military it loathes by writing about and/or publishing the parts of the video in question, but they didn’t like doing that, so they found a few former and current military folks who said it wasn’t a great strategy and some Iraqis who condemned it outright, thereby putting doubt into the minds of the casual follower of what’s going on in Iraq by getting them to question (yet again) whether or not our strategy for winning there is working.
That the media would rather continue to try and influence people against our military and the Iraq war is shocking, I must say. /sarcasm.
(Hat tip for the NYT link: Rantingprofs)
Related Toldjah So posts:
- The case of the WaPo whopper
- MSNBC Hardball correspondent David Shuster caught in multiple reporting errors
- How the media undermines US national security
- The military and the media, the war in Iraq, etc
- The media spin on Operation Swarmer
- Irresponsible Journalism
- Gray Lady Down – a slam against the NYT
- “If 1941 Were 2005â€³
- The media’s war
- Winning in spite of defeatist attitudes
- Dems and media determined to ignore Iraq progress
- The undermining of this war
- NYTimes spins good news into bad