In a recent newspaper profile, CNN anchor Aaron Brown is captured trying to be witty as he cobbles together his “Newsnight” show. He asks his co-workers, “So, what the hell are we going to sell here?”
Theres an easy answer if you watch television: failure.
For most of the post-war period, the networks have sold us failure. The details change here and there, but the pitch remains the same.
But what happens when one of these failures turns upside down into a success, as in killing Uday and Qusay? Easy. More failures. Failure to capture the sons alive for their intelligence value. Failure to understand that Iraqis need to see the corpses. Failure to understand Muslims dont like to see corpses preserved. Eleanor Clift even suggested the failure to keep Saddams sons alive in order to cover up the failure to find weapons of mass destruction-failure squared.
The ideology of failure makes journalism so easy and carefree. When yesterdays media beef (we cant kill the sons) totally contradicts todays (we shouldnt have killed the sons), thats OK. Coherence isnt required. Building a daily soundtrack of doom is the objective.
Since the “major fighting” ended, the media have tried to turn the world upside down. In the daily episode of self-fulfilling prophecy, reporters like CBSs Joie Chen proclaim that as soldiers die “day by day” in Iraq, “the concerns, and the doubts, of many of the folks back home grow.”
Joie Chen should try visiting the troops. E-mails home from soldiers in Baghdad paint an almost entirely different picture than what the networks are offering. One Green Berets e-mail (he asks for anonymity) about the unreality of the staged news from Iraq is hotly making the Internet rounds.
In raw language, he laments being unable to touch “those taunting bags of gas that scream in (soldiers) faces and riot on cue when they spot a cameraman from ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN or NBC. If they did, then they know the next nightly news will be about how chaotic things are and how much the Iraqi people hate us. Some do. But the vast majority dont.”
This soldier, who says hes spent time “baby-sitting the pukes” from TV networks, also maintains that the more Iraqis see that our soldiers dont start any violence, and try to be friendly and compassionate to children and the elderly, the more their hostility dissolves. “I saw a bunch of 19-year-olds from the 82nd Airborne not return fire coming from a mosque until they got a group of elderly civilians out of harms way. So did the Iraqis.”
When some enemy combatants rounded up women and children as human shields, the soldiers negotiated their release. When a young girl was discovered thrown down the stairs after the standoff, “the G.I.s called in a MedVac helicopter to take her and her mother to the nearest field hospital. The Iraqis watched it all, and there hasnt been a problem in that neighborhood since. How many such stories, and there are hundreds of them, ever get reported in the fair and balanced press? You know, nada.”
The soldiers missive is long, bitter and instructive. He is stunned that the American press is so hostile to the U.S. mission. He oughtnt be. This is the American media at its most typical.
Steve Hayes of the Weekly Standard has just returned from Baghdad, where he found “Most Iraqis are overjoyed about their liberation. The American troops I spoke with, even those from units that have suffered postwar casualties, said they have received a warm welcome from their hosts.”
Another journalist on the trip, the Wall Street Journals Paul Gigot, reported that Iraqis are “petrified” that President Bush will lose office and U.S. troops will leave too soon.
These accounts do not match the daily drip-drip-drip of our Bush-bashing press, always focusing on failures-real, alleged or invented. There is one failure they ignore: their own failure to recognize the publics-and the militarys-growing disdain for the nattering nabobs of negativism.