Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Saga Continues

Well, I am yet to hear back from Mr. Osman concerning the last email I'd sent. Because I'm not too big on keeping my mouth shut or being patient I decided to write him again.
Mr. Osman, I had written you last week about a concern I had with the credibility of a person you had interviewed as part of the follow-up for the CBS 3 I-Team investigation into local Army recruiters.

As I'd said in my original email Mr. Chris Dugan is not a "former recruiter" as is stated in your report. In my response to your email I provided you an interview Mr. Dugan had given where he is called a "recruiter assistant". I also clarified that a "recruiter assistant" is a very temporary assignment with a very limited scope. "Recruiter assistants" are low-ranking service members who are given temporary duties which are limited in scope. The primary recruiting task given to a "recruiter assistant" is lead generation. They do not interview leads or prospects, and are not responsible for the processing of applicants. A "recruiter applicant" is as qualified to discuss life inside recruiting as a newly arrived intern is to discuss life in a network news room.

Mr. Dugan has made a name for himself in the anti-war and anti-recruiting movements by billing himself as a "former recruiter" who "was privy to what goes on - on the inside ", however he is no such thing. Your description of him in your follow-up, which has now been re posted on sites like Michael Moore's, does a disservice to your viewers and readers. I find it disturbing that a network news reporter, doing a story for a network news investigatory team, would not have done a more thorough job of gathering background on someone who is being interviewed for a story.

There is no shortage of current and former military recruiters who can give an interview about what it is like to be in recruiting. A phone call to a local Reserve or National Guard facility would probably put you in contact with a half dozen people who had experience in recruiting. Why the only source you could find for this commentary is a fraud is simply beyond me.

I appreciate your time and look forward to your response.
I'm really intent on tilting this windmill. I'm not going to stand idly by while some HRAP goes on TV and tells the fifth largest city in America that I'm a "salesman" and I have a "quota".

I'm pretty well convinced that Mr. Osman had a story in mind, and that Chris Dugan's misrepresentation fit too perfectly into the story to not be included (Maybe Holly can tell me whether that is gatekeeping). I don't know if this is going to result in anything more than me simply being more pissed off about things which I can't do anything about, but it'll give me a couple of blog posts.


Had to redo the post because of a formatting error I made worse when trying to fix. I'll redo the links when I get the chance. Sorry.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Oh MY GAWD!!!!


I heard back from Mr. Osman. I added the response and my reply to the bottom of the post.


That was my immediate reaction when I read this.
In a rare interview, a former recruiter steps forward to tell his story to Investigative Reporter Jim Osman. As a former Marine, Chris Dugan went to malls and local high schools to recruit new enlistees.
Chris Dugan is NOT a former Marine recruiter. He's a former Marine, who served from 1995-99, and spent time as the Corps' equivalent of HRAP. You have to scroll down to the middle of the page to see it.
We're talking to Chris Dugan, who was an assistant recruiter, was in the Marines...
Chris Dugan is NOT someone who grants "rare" interviews. In fact a quick Google search (The Blogspot Blog is just another guy named Chris Dugan. He address the confusion here.) reveals a full page of interviews and stories he's written. He's written or contributed to articles for The Village Voice and Socialist Worker Online. He's been an active participant in several anti-war and anti-recruiting activities functions. This is not someone whose interviews should be considered "rare". I'm willing to bet I could get an interview scheduled with him if I tried.

This is the second time in a week that the writer of a recruiting-related story failed to include information which is, in my opinion at least, painfully important to the story. This time Jim Osman from CBS 3 in Philly has done a huge disservice by not sharing the background, and possible motivations, of someone who is very important to his story. I don't know if Chris Dugan misrepresented himself to CBS 3's Investigative Team, but since it took me three seconds to find out about the guy it doesn't say a lot about the I-Team's ability. I decided I wanted to find out more so I emailed Mr. Osman to ask him those questions.

But enough about the one person who used his time on HRAP to become a semi-dubious celebrity, and for the actual story itself.
Because of our initial report, the Army has opened its own investigation into potential recruiting abuses.
If anyone says that a recruiter did something wrong the Army will investigate it. This is not a feather in the I-Team's cap, it's something that is required to happen if an impropriety is alledged.
In a rare interview, a former recruiter steps forward to tell his story to Investigative Reporter Jim Osman. As a former Marine, Chris Dugan went to malls and local high schools to recruit new enlistees.
I already touched on this earlier, but it bears repeating. CHRIS DUGAN IS NOT A FORMER RECRUITER. It's also not "rare" to be able to get him to speak about his time in "recruiting".
"If I recruited someone - that would count towards points that would help me become a sergeant before I get out of the marine corps. So I'm willing to manipulate the truth for these people," said Dugan.
I can't speak to the exact incentives of the USMC's recruiter assistance program, but I'm willing to bet that the "help me become a sergeant" part is a promotion from private to private first class. I seriously doubt that the actions of a Marine as a recruiter assistant three years earlier would have much bearing on a corporal's promotion to sergeant.
And because of an increase demand for more troops, Dugan says truth in recruiting is becoming a casualty of our times."You're a salesman, you have a quota," explained Dugan.
So, apparently, has truth in reporting. And Dugan is as qualified to talk about the difficulties of recruiting as I am to speak about the difficulties in Lasik surgery.
Half the recruiters misled that CBS 3 undercover researcher, told him they could bend the rules to get him in...or distorted his chances of dying in Iraq."Your chances of dying is like being out here. You know what I'm saying? You gonna die, you could fall off your bed and that's it," said a local recruiter.
That's not misleading, that's the truth. If someone tells me they won't join the Army because they might get killed, I'm going to talk with them about the relative risks of being in the Army and life in general. Yes, it's very unlikely you'll get blown up by an IED on the streets of Phoenix, but that doesn't mean there is no risk.
But Dugan wonders whether the military is truly intent on stopping questionable recruiting tactics - considering what we found in the Delaware Valley is the latest in a series of military recruiting abuses documented by journalists.
I'm sure Dugan does wonder that. He's anti-war and anti-recruiting. He'd "wonder" about what the military does because it's his agenda to do so. I'm going to go ahead and claim a "winner" for my predication earlier regarding journalists trying to set-up recruiters.
"When you're in the military it's about accountability that's the way treat soldiers so why aren't they held accountable," said Dugan.
Just because every recruiter who ever mispoke isn't taken out and fragged for honest mistakes doesn't mean they aren't "held accountable".
The ex-marine from our report who is speaking out against recruiting is now against the war in Iraq.
He's not "now" against the war. He's been against the war for as long as the war has been going on. He's been out since 1999.

I don't mind the story about recruiters possibly doing wrong. It's the job of journalists to find a story, and recruiters lying would be an important story. However, while doing this story, this reporter fails to fully identify someone who is very important to his subject. By omitting the background of Chris Dugan it's deceptive. Whether it's intentional or accidental is probably up to each of us to decide.



Thanks for writing to us. The reference to "rare" was in reference to that it isn't often we hear from someone who was on the inside - not a reference to the number of interviews he has done.
As for how long his service was... I don't think I've heard him represent that it was for two weeks. Nor have I seen any articles that either.
From what we know and what has been represented in other reporting on Mr. Dugan - he was privy to what goes on - on the inside - and was sent to local high schools and malls looking for prospects."

Thanks for writing to us. If you have anything additional please let me know.

This was my response to him.
Thank you for the response Mr. Osman.

Mr. Dugan doesn't state that his service in "recruiting" was for two weeks because that doesn't make him look like the insider he pretends to be. However in several interviews it is clarified that he was a "recruiter assistant".

If you scroll about 3/4ths of the way down you'll see the interviewer, Amy Goodman, state he was a "recruiter assistant".

The program which Mr. Dugan was involved in is called the Hometown Recruiter Assistant Program (HRAP). What the HRAP program does is, a person who just completed their initial training, is allowed to go home for two weeks and assist their local recruiters. They do not actually "recruit", what they do is they generate interest in their service by telling about their personal experiences in the military. They're not responsible for processing these people, or doing any recruiting-related activity other than making the initial contact. If the person asks a question about anything beyond the HRAP's personal experiences they're to tell them to talk with an actual recruiter. And it's something they do for a very short period (usually two weeks, rarely more, sometimes less).

Mr. Osman, you said in your email that you don't "often we hear from someone who was on the inside". Does that mean that Mr. Dugan approached you after the inital story had run? If so, did you ask to see any proof of his claimed experience as a Marine Corps recruiter? His DD214 would show he completed the recruiter training course, or orders assigning him to duty as a recruiter. If you were to relate Mr. Dugan's experiences to anyone who was in recruiting they'd quickly realize what he was actually doing.

If military recruiters are breaking the law in their activities, or misleading people about the service, then it needs to be exposed. However your update to the original story misleads your viewers and readers. Mr. Dugan is not a "insider" who is "telling it like it is." He's embellishing his service in an attempt to make himself an authority on a subject which he knows nothing. I'd like to think that after people like Jesse MacBeth and Lauro Chavez had been exposed for lying about their service to further their agenda, that more attention would be paid to military "insiders".

Again, I appreciate the time you took to respond to my concerns. I hope you have a great day.

John Bradshaw
I'm beginning to think that the inclusion of Chris Dugan was because his dialogue fit perfectly with what Mr. Osman wanted to tone of the story to be, regardless of his qualifications to make such statements. If Mr. Osman responds I'll be sure to share the response. I'm very curious to see what sort of vetting was done on Mr. Dugan, and whether he was included in the story because he approached CBS 3 or because they sought him out.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dang it

Holly tagged me with a meme thing. In keeping with my nature I ignored it for a couple days hoping it would go away. Sadly it did not. So here is goes.

1. I'm right handed, but when I wear watches I wear them on my right wrist. I was told at a young age that usually people wear them on the opposite side. I don't know if it's true or not, I don't really care, but I have to fill out six items so bear with me.

2. I was supposed to have been born on Groundhog's Day.

3. I'm a Lumberjack, and I'm okay.

4. According to Mrs. SFC B my best singing voice is a falsetto. Maybe one of these days she'll get me drunk enough that I'll do my "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" cover and post it to YouTube for a complete humiliation.

5. I'm the highest ranking military member in my family going back 4 generations. It might go back further, but I don't know.

6. I only saw my recruiter twice. Once when I walked in for my initial appointment, and a second time when I went to the RS for the only DEP function I attended.

I'm not tagging anyone with this because, well, I'm petulant that way.

Anyways, tonight, in addition to filling out memes from bloggers more popular than I, I also attended the state high school basketball tournament. I learned a couple things tonight.

Try as they might, women just don't make as good a basketball player as men. The men are, across the board, bigger, stronger, and faster. I'm sure there are individual women who can be competitive against their male counterparts, but they are few and far between. I'm sure it's not for lack of effort, but if I was the coach of the teams that lost tonight, I'd spend some time next year working on my chest passes, bounce passes, and maybe have a 10 minute lesson on why the soft lob across the court into a double team is not a good idea. I saw that many times.

Many of the banners for the normal sponsors at Arena were covered by sponsors of the Arizona Interscholastic Association, the Army and Marine Corps included. However they failed to cover the giant Budweiser signs on the scoreboard. This lead your's truely to comment "The Arizona Interscholastic Association, and Budweiser Beer, are proud to bring you High School basketball. Remember kids, drink responsibly." I'm sure that the AIA had nothing to do with that, and the advertisement was left uncovered because it's oddly shaped and in a very inconvient location, but still, I found it humorous.

I've now spent time in all four professional sports facilities in Arizona. I must say that all of them are really, really nice.

I originally had one other thing here, but as I wrote it I realized that it deserved a blog post of its own. So, unfortunatly for the idea, it's going to die because I'll never get around to writing about it in a particular post.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


So, SGT Lori has a new home, and I finally got around to fixing my link to NCO Brief. I also figured I'd stop being lazy and actually do some reading on what I'd blathered about yesterday. I was a bit unfair in my characterization of the study commissioned by the Palm Center. I went ahead and read it, and while I don't agree with some of the observations, it's a study that asks a rational question, and provides some decent analysis. I also found the source numbers they'd talked about, and if I can find the total recruiting numbers for last year I might totally rehash my work from SGT Stryker/NCO Brief.

Today is a travel day for me so I'll be out of the loop shortly. It's been a wonderful vacation and a welcome escape from the grind. However the grind awaits me shortly so I'll have to start steeling myself for it. Yippee.....

Saturday, February 17, 2007


Well, I'm back in the good old USA. Couple interesting things happened while I was away that will just have to wait a bit because I'm not in the mood to flesh out the thoughts. That pretty much means those thoughts are doomed to whither and die on the vine. It's not a fun life to be an inkling of a post topic in my mind. No fun at all.

Anyways, while I was out two stories about recruiting hit the good ol' internets. One of them is a rehash of a topic that had been covered by last year, and that I commented about here. While some of the numbers have changed, the facts behind them remain the same. With 80,000+ enlisting into the Army and the Army Reserve last year, even a 30% increase in Serious Criminal Misconduct waivers (680 in 2005, 901 in 2006), they still account for only 1.1% of all people who enlisted into the service last year.

As much as I hate to rehash stuff I wrote somewhere else, I've got to throw in a couple of observations about this story. First off I think that the writer, Lolita Baldor, was terribly misleading when she (I'm assuming that "Lolita is a female name) simply states that the numbers were released by the "Michael D. Palm Center, a think tank that studies military issues". The Michael D. Palm Center is a "think tank" on UC-Santa Barbara that studies Don't Ask Don't Tell. They're not a "think tank". It's an advocacy group with a specific agenda. Aaron Belkin, who is the director of the center, isn't just the director, but a very vocal opponent of the military's policy on homosexuals, and he's used the study commissioned by the center he directs to support his opposition to DADT by saying it's wrong for the military to discharge people for breaking military law, while allowing people to enlist who broke civilian law, but paid their debt to society. This is a story with an agenda, and Ms. Baldor doesn't make it possible for the reader to determine that based on her reporting.

However, even though there is an agenda behind the story, there is still a story to talk about and the story gets some pretty simple stuff wrong. First off Ms. Baldor writes
And they said about two-thirds of the waivers granted by the Marines are for drug use, because they — unlike the other services — require a waiver if someone has been convicted once for marijuana use.
Maybe Darth Commando can square me away on this, but, unless I missed a USAREC message, the Army requires a waiver for a marijuana possession charge as well. I might be wrong, but I'm willing to bet that what Ms. Baldor meant to write was that the USMC is the only service that requires a waiver for someone who admits to using marijuana at least once. Not someone who was convicted of the crime. Maybe it's a minor point, but it's one she got wrong.

Since I haven't read the entire study from the Palm Center, I'm going to have to make a guess at where Mr. Belkin gets this number.
The fact that the military has allowed more than 100,000 people with such troubled pasts to join its ranks over the past three years illustrates the problem we're having meeting our military needs in this time of war.
He's lumping together all waivers, medical and moral, from all services, into one big, scary number, and then implying that they are all people with "troubled pasts". As I'd mentioned over at NCO Brief, the vast majority of waivers are medical. Flat feet is a medical waiver. Mr. Belkin has alleged that someone with flat feet is a person with a troubled past, and that by allowing these 2x4 footed people into the uniform is a symptom of a military that is failing. He's wrong and the quote is deceptive. Ms. Baldor should probably have mentioned something about that.

A paragraph or three later a recycled canard is brought out. The good old "stupid people" comment.
(The Army is) accepting more people whose scores on a standardized aptitude test are at the lower end of the acceptable range.
I keep seeing this comment whenever the quality of the troops is mentioned, but it's never backed up or explained. The Army is allowed to have up to 2% of the enlistees for the year be CAT4s (the lowest allowable ASVAB test category). That number has not changed. However, if the Army is allowed to have 2% of enlistees be CAT4s, and 70,000 people are enlisted one year, and 80,000 are enlisted the next, of course there are going to be more CAT4s. But this is never explained in these stories. The percentage does not change.

And this brings me to another comment I have. It's something I see a lot in stories, but have never been able to get a decent answer for why it's done. Ms. Baldor is very specific with some numbers, but very general in others.
According to the Pentagon, nearly a quarter of new military recruits needed some type of waiver in 2006, up from 20 percent in 2003
About one in five Army recruits needed a waiver to enlist in 2006, up from 12.7 percent in 2003.
So, which is it? A quarter is 25%. What is "nearly a quarter"? 23%? 24.9%? Ms. Baldor is very specific when she gives the number for 2003 at 20%, but then gets vague when talking about 2006. Are we talking about a .1% difference of a 5% difference? That seems like a pretty big difference between those two. One in five is 20%, so is "about one in five" 19.9% or 15%? Again, she states 12.7% for 2003, and then gives an "about" to the current numbers. Why the generalness? Is it to make it seem more impressive like Mr. Belkin's 100,000 troubled pasts?

I'd spent some time earlier this month giving my ill-formed opinions about media perception. I think this ties in well with what I'd commented on earlier. Other than the think about USMC marijuana waivers, the story is not inaccurate. However, by failing to mention Mr. Belkin's work in a specific area of policy, the relation of the Center that funded the study in discussion, and mixing detailed accuracy with vagueness it conveys a message. I doubt there is any malice intended here, but it's not hard to take an opinion that the bias in the story is there for a reason. The military is making their recruiting mission again this year, and since there can't be stories about the military failing to make mission, then the story must be that the military is accomplishing the mission by lowering their standards. This same story came out last year. The only thing that's changed has been a new year of numbers.

The other story that caught my eye was brought to me courtesy of Army Lawyer. The story is that Radar Online (apparently a National Lampoon wannabe) tried to catch some recruiters doing wrong by calling them with people who are either obviously unqualified, or probably unqualified. There's nothing in the exchanges really worth discussing. I seriously doubt the recruiter on the other end of the line took any of the calls seriously after about the first four questions, but it goes to show something else I'd mentioned before. The vast, vast vast majority of recruiters do the right thing each and every time. Maybe this guy from Radar Online would have had more success if what he was saying wasn't painfully obvious.

Anyways, be travelling again tomorrow. Everyone enjoy the rest of the weekend and Happy President's Day.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Freedom! Horrible freedom!

Today marks the start of a brief respite from the daily grind of phone calls, face-to-face, packet building, and trying to figure out how to avoid pulling out what remains of my hair when my cell phone reads "MEPS 1". I'm on leave.

Yes, I don't know it happened that I was allowed out of my cage either, but I'm going to run with it.

Got some fun stuff planned with my family back in Texas. It should be fun. And prospecting free.

I feel like I'm getting out of here just in time. As I was on the plane I realized that it has been a while since I actually took some time off. It's amazing to not have to worry about work for a week. Recently I've just been on edge at work and flying off the handle over, admittedly, stupid stuff. Hopefully this time away from the phone calls, the appointments, and their associated fall outs will alleviate some of the frustration.

With the month closing out on Monday it looks like I'm going to finish with a three total (1 RA, 2 AR), and the station might actually box with what we have on the floor. The AR was closed out by SGT Cheeks on Saturday so that was a good thing.

Anyways, I'll do my best to write while I'm away. I don't know how much I'll need to write since I'm currently in a room with 25% of my readership. Oh well, should be fun. Have a good one folks.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tell me how you really feel

Saw this while I was letting Wikipedia take me where I felt like.

Thought it was funny and I thought I'd pass it on.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Continuing the conversation

The furry and cat-like Akinoluna replied to my post about the work of the press when it comes to reporting a story. Because I don't think I've ever had someone give any thought to something I've written I figured I'd punish her for her trangression by continuing to mash the keyboard in the hope that words come out. Maybe I can bore her to tears and cause her brain to hemorage, thus sparing me the embarassment of having people actually think about my wordifying. And failing that, she's cat-like, I'll use a laser pointer to distract her.
Part of the reason the media gets a bad rap is because people don't understand its purposes. Yes, the media exists so you can find out what's going on in the world or in your town. But I think its most crucial and vital purpose is to question. Specifically, question the government. We NEED the media to question everything the government says, does, or wants to do. A country without a free press to monitor the leaders is not a free country.
We're just going to have to agree to disagree on this. The primary function of a news media outlet isn't to question, it's to report. It's why they're called reporters and not inquisitors. I know that sounds trite and dismissive, but I feel it is important. Human nature makes it impossible that bias won't be introduced into human endevours. Since the absence of bias isn't possible, then it is important to admit what are the individual biases in today's newsroom. That does not happen.

It's not the role of the "media" to question what the government does. The government isn't beholden to the media, it's beholden to those who elect them. The media serves as the conduit through which this information flows. Unfortunatly for the citizens of our country, those who are paid to relay information have instead chosen to filter information. Valerie Plame becomes a super secret agent who was involved in current black-ops because the facts of her story, that she was no longer a field agent, and that her identity as someone in the CIA was generally common knowledge throught the political set, is condemned to page 14 status. President Bush is personally listening to my telephone conversations is the story the reaches the papers, and the fact that the NSA listening program was possibly legal under one statute, but illegal under another, isn't explored or explained. The fact that such conflicts between laws are supposed to be sorted out by the courts is short circuited by reporters eager to make a headline. A battle in Baghdad where the US and Iraqi forces are victorious is treated like a defeat, and the fact they defeated the enemy is buried underneath paragraphs of praise for the ferocity of the insurgent fighters and the unpreparedness of the Iraqi Army.

I freely admit I'd have written these stories differently. I don't share the opinion of the NYT that it's a violation of my civil rights to have known terrorists calling me from foreign countries traced. In a battle where the US and her ally was able to defeat their enemy in combat I'd make it clear that the battle was a win early on in the story. Not after using 20% of my space.

"Painting with a wide brush" is probably the best way to describe my description of the news media. I don't actually believe that daily meetings at the CBS Evening News involve coordinating their "Down With America" campaign, and when I imply that they're rooting for our defeat in Iraq, I'm being, at best, melodramatic.
The media didn't brainwash Americans into thinking the war was a mess because the media didn't make a war that was supposed to be over in months drag on four years, the media isn't spending billions of dollars on the war instead of projects at home, the media didn't turn the Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites into enemies, the media didn't send millions of refugees pouring into Iraq's annoyed neighbours' territory. They just told us it was happening, because it wasn't what was supposed to happen and because it's making the situation worse.
The Media didn't brainwash the masses into thinking anything, true. However The Media is also incapable of providing the sort of military analysis or thought which a kid who plays Command and Conquer is capable of providing.

The sum total of The Media's analysis of the situation in Iraq can be summed up thus: "It's been X years since President Bush declared 'Mission Accomplished', and there have been #,### killed ."

That's it.

It's been said before that if we had the reporters we have today covering wars in our nation's past, then we'd never have gotten off the beaches of Normandy.

The situation is not helped by the adversarial nature of the administration when it comes to negative news. But is there anything in the past six years which leads someone to believe that if the Bush administration was more open, accomodating, and willing to publically admit mistakes, that The Media would be even-handed in their coverage and analysis? If so, I've missed it.
The media didn't cause the gap between the government's terrorist fears and war desires and the American population's lack of fear and war support because that as much as people like to talk about the terrorist threat, there is virtually no threat on American soil. The vast majority of the wackos who would like to see us die have no chance of making it across the ocean to blow themselves up in our grocery stores. Americans go about their daily lives as they always have because they still feel safe.
There'd be far less of a "gap" between the administration's "desire" for war and the public's "support" for it if there was honest reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead we have mass media agencies rebroadcasting insurgent propaganda pieces, brought to them by stringers in the service of the same insurgent groups. If Michael Yon had spent the past four years writing for the Washington Post rather than himself support for the war would be 15% higher than it is right now. The Media does play a part, an important part, in how much the population supports something. If the drumbeat is that Iraq is a failure, then eventually people will follow that drumbeat. Ever since the first person died after "Mission Accomplished" the drumbeat has been that Iraq is unwinnable.

That there is "virtually no threat on American soil" has been true for years, long before 9-11. Even with the success of the attack on the WTC and the Pentagon, there is still "virtually no threat". The 9-11 attacks succeeded because the system is not perfect, and those 19 managed to work their way through some holes. 9-11 unfolds very differently if security screeners in Maine do something different. But just because there is "virtually no threat" doesn't mean there is "no threat", and that doesn't mean we should sit back and be happy to be "virtually" terror free. There hasn't been a successful terror attack on American soil since 9-11, but there have been many, many successful terror attacks across the world. Spain, London, that resort in the Pacific I can't remember, and all of them executed by the same strand of terrorist we fight in Iraq. That "vast majority of wackos" won't cross the oceans to reach our shores because they're getting killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's a feature, not a bug. But that doesn't mean we can simply say "done" and pack it up. The "vast majority" isn't the concern because it only takes one.
No, the media isn't perfect, nobody is. But the burden of justifying, drumming up support for, and cheering on a war is on the government, not the media. As Ron Steinman said: "Pencils do not win or lose wars. Governments and armies win and lose."
I'm sure Mr. Steinman is a very brilliant writer, but he contradicts himself three sentances later when he, correctly, observes "We lose wars when the will to win vanishes." That "will to win" can be directly affected by the coverage provided. Coverage which emphasizes the bad, minimizes the good, and glorifies the abilities of the enemy, while ignoring the atrocities committed by that enemy, will not improve the "will to win". It was Euripides who observed that "The tounge is mightier than the blade." This is still true. Armies and governments fight the wars, but it's the writers who declare the victor for history. Mr. Steinman reveals the extent of the power of the press by his attempt to distance himself from his culpability for events by, in effect, saying "I'm not a soldier, and it's not my job to win."
At (sic) that leads us back to the current war. It's pretty obvious to anyone who can breathe that the war didn't go as planned and wasn't planned well in the first place.
The war or the occupation? They are two totally different things. The war itself was a stunning success. There have obviously been mistakes made after the war was over and the insurgency began. That al-Sadr remains breathing is one I can think of without much effort. But rather than treat the occupation as something in need of repair, the "story" becomes that the occupation is broken, cannot be repaired, and that the only logical solution is to call it quits.

Anyways, I've gone on long enough. My thoughts are disjointed and not well expressed, it's early, I've got a guy on the floor and he needs to get in. Hope everyone has a good one.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I've occasionally ranted about my perception of the inequity of the journalism world. Personally, I believe that the media has done a piss poor job reporting news from Iraq. I also believe that they do a very poor job in reporting about the military in general. I also believe that many in the media believe that armed services recruiting targets the poor and minorities, despite evidence to the contrary.

However those are my opinions, and mine alone. It's not like I'm on some newspaper editor's internal mailing list where they bad-mouth servicemembers and talk about about stoopid we are.

I've often complained about the journalistic habit to run stories about "bad" things happening. Akinoluna talks briefly about this very subject.
Media-haters like to use this phrase to show their disdain for the media. They say the media runs only the "bad" stories because that's what sells papers. And it's true, to a certain extent. But then I started thinking and I realized something: Would we really want the opposite?

If your local paper passes on running a "bloody" story in favor of running a "happy" story, you won't know what happened. For example, what if a family on the next block get murdered in their sleep and the killer escapes but the next morning the Hometown Gazette prints an article about how a local student raised $2000 to buy blankets for homeless people, and says nothing about the bloody crime.
I don't think I've ever said I didn't want the "bad" news reported. All I want is balance and perspective. I'd be glad to read about this awful crime in my neighborhood, and grateful to the Hometown Gazette for informing me. However I'm also assuming that the Hometown Gazette's reporter isn't hoping that the murderer escapes. I'm also assuming that there isn't an accompanying editorial in the Hometown Gazette where they blame the mayor for the murderer's actions. I'm also assuming that the reporter won't publish any material provided by the murderer without running it by the cops first.

Basically, I'm assuming that the reporter from the Hometown Gazette is not rooting for the murderer.

I would hate to live in a society which only sees things through rose colored glasses. Such reporting would leave you unaware and unprepared for the harshness of reality. But does CNN need to run an insurgent snuff video in the same year when they refuse to show a Mohammed cartoon?

Anyways, I need to be getting to the office. Have a good one.