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The culture of war reporting - still Vietnam?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, July 17, 2006

Rowan Scarboro has an interesting article highlighting what is apparently becoming an annual event at Ft. Carson, Co, home of the 7th ID. Naturally, being about the military, it caught my eye.

The 7th ID, btw, is one of the new divisions you're going to see more of in the Army. It is one of the first active component/reserve component divisions with an active duty command structure in the division and made up of three National Guard "enhanced brigades". Those enhanced brigades were all previously separate brigades which "rounded out" active duty divisions. That didn't work as well as we liked so this is the new approach. Naturally, each brigade is quite capable of operating independently.

But on with the point. Scarboro discusses this gathering which takes place at Ft. Carson for now a third year. Commanders from all over show up and trade ideas and thoughts about lessons learned and future deployments. A couple of interesting points were the feeling among the group that we would probably have some sort of presence in Iraq until about 2016. The level of presence or what caused them to decide on that year aren't discussed in the article, but one of the reasons can be found right here.

Another topic was IEDs and how we're becoming so much more adept at finding them before they find us. We seem to have our best luck finding them when using UAVs. But they admit that the insurgents are getting more and more sophisticated with the IEDs as well. Scarboro noted that earlier this year, "a raid on an IED factory ... netted two bomb-makers who hold master's degrees in chemistry and physics — from U.S. colleges."

Military leaders use these sorts of forums and seminars to pass lessons learned out among themselves. As Scarboro notes, the military has an obsession with learning from their operations and, in fact the Army has an entire bureau at Ft. Leavenworth KS called the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) which pours over after-action reports, gleans the useful nuggets of information that will help our forces in the field survive and be more effective and publishes and disseminates them.

But while all that is good and interesting, what caught my attention was the assessment of the American press coverage of the war which these commanders had. Citing the 3rd Armored Cavalry's success in Tal Afar as an example, the commander of the unit reported that a generally favorable report filed by a reporter on the scene concerning that success was completely gutted and respun to a negative by state-side editors:
One retired officer attendee made notes and e-mailed his minutes of the session to other officers. The notes say there was general agreement on one issue: the "mainstream media" largely ignores progress. A commander said an embedded reporter filed a generally positive story on the operation in Tal Afar, only to see his stateside editors gut it and apply a negative spin.

In fact, editors have grown increasingly resistant to embedding reporters with combat units, something they demanded be done before the invasion in March 2003. The purported reason: They think contact with U.S. service members hurts the reporters' objectivity.

"They come to see the world through the eyes of the troops," said the retired officer's e-mail. Now, newspapers and magazine rely heavily on Iraqi stringers who telephone in reports from various combat scenes.

"We are clearly winning the fight against the insurgents, but we are losing the public relations battle, both in the war zone and in the States," said the e-mail.
This is an old but persistent story. And you have to remember that soldiers and reporters approach this from different directions and different perspectives. But the perception among those who serve in Iraq seems to never change as it concerns the news media. I'm sure all of us have, at some point in our life, been witness to an event and then found it, essentially unrecognizable as it was reported by the media.

Troops are contending that isn't a occasional problem, but, instead, a constant problem. Having not been there and witnessing what is indeed going on, I can't validate their concern. But I can note it hasn't changed one iota in all the time we've been there (since the task turned to nation building). Talk to any vet of Iraq and most will echo this sentiment. So it's not like it is some isolated and intermittent complaint.

Given that most of the editors haven't been to Iraq either, one has to begin wondering about agendas when generally positive events either go unreported or are spun into generally negative events. I'm not going to claim some grand conspiracy among editors and the like, that's just unlikely. But I am going to put forward a theory that since Vietnam, a certain type of individual has been drawn toward the profession of journalism and that person is now ending up in the editor's chair of many major news organizations. One only has to review the reporting and the press's general antipathy (and sometimes overt hostility) toward the military of that time to understand my thesis. Its a culture that, while mostly hidden now because, well you know, we all support the troops, still exists and has its way with the news out of Iraq.
 
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It’s just media bias:

http://www.polisci.ucla.edu/faculty/groseclose/Media.Bias.8.htm

Why is anyone surprised about this? Then again, I guess it’s not like CBS/Dan Rather tried to use fake documents to get a leftist elected president in 2004 . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The study you note on media bias claims that the mean opinion (that is non-bias at the to the right or the left) would be the average opinion of the members of the (republican dominated) house of representitives.

Anyone reading the methodology would realize that the study was just a political tool. It was not an academic study.
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
I agree that there is probably not an active conspiracy among journalists. However, there is a conspiracy that parallels their point of view and supports it. I just viewed the movie: "Why We Fight", which is a propoganda piece that pretty much summarizes the Liberal Narrative on Iraq. It doesn’t make the bad guys the neoconservatives (although it does), but instead takes off on Eisenhower’s farewell address warning about the military/industrial complex taking over the country. I would recommend it to anyone who wonders what these editors are thinking.
After reflecting on the movie’s contentions, I wondered whether or not I was just as bad for having learned the lesson of "never again" about WWII, Chamberlain, et al. I am thoroughly convinced that allowing your enemies to stop you at any point of their choosing in order to "negotiate" (while they seek a strategic advantage, rest and rearm or simply let your populace lose interest and withdraw support for the endeavor) is a foolish way to deal with them. Surely there is a middle path on the use of military force, but with a two party system, how to keep from going to the "sound bite friendly" extremes?
We can agree (based on the impartiality principle) that the editors are wrong to "twist" the news. I think that is a good start. Unfortunately, liberals are convinced that the "corporate-controlled" press doesn’t twist news enough! They want journalists to actively represent the Liberal Narrative 24/7 and deem them tools of the ...whomever..for not doing so. Of course, they don’t see "twisting", they see "accountability", but make no mistake, they mean the kind of amending described in your post. Blatant bias as seen, for instance, in the NYT, is simply a free press fulfilling their responsibility to hold the administration accountable.
We seem to be moving toward a point where people no longer naively believe in the general impariality of the press and therefore there is room for "impartiality" and "accountability", so long as one knows which is which when trying to stay informed.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
cindyb, you need to realize the reason the Republicans were elected in that large, majority fraction to the House is that the center of the Democratic Party is farther to the left of center with respect to the American public than the center of the Republican Party is to the right of that electoral center.

The mean of the House of Representatives is a perfectly valid benchmark.

You just need to win more elections so you like where that benchmark is.

*Snort*

*Giggle*

*Cackle*

Bwahahahaaa!!!


But even if you do, given the positions of the news organs involved, they will still show as being generally leftist in bias.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
"...the mean opinion (that is non-bias at the to the right or the left) would be the average opinion of the members of the ... house of representitives."
Well, uh...yeah, cindyb, that would be the best indicator available. We understand that the Liberal Narrative maintains, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that Americans "really" believe in the Narrative, even though they don’t vote that way. What do you think should be used as a benchmark?
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
What do you think should be used as a benchmark?

Well as a benchmark of centre/moderation the positions of NPR reporters....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Dont worry Cindy The right has about had it.75% dissapproval is the REAL BENCHMARK.
 
Written By: x2master
URL: http://
Here’s a thought -
The fact that people might not be happy with the Republicans -
Doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy with the Democrats.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Using the republican house members as a benchmark for non-bias is just ridiculous. Look at the total number of people voting for republican vs democratic senators last time.

Note that in the senate that the sum of the people voting democratic actually exceeded the sum of people voting republican.

Democratic Candidates: 94,965,901
Republican Candidates: 94,369,075

There are obviously as many people who are not republican dupes as who are.

The fact that the republicans have a 55-45 majority is because the blue states are much bluer than the red states are red.

Some representative democracy, huh.
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
Looker

Still whats your point America is not happy with its direction.Does that mean anything to you? Or are you republican before American?
 
Written By: x2master
URL: http://
Some representative democracy, huh.
You seem to have a difficulty with the concept of "republic", don’t you?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
It doesnt matter whos in power they both are greatly capable of good or evil.The people are the last check and balance.

Cindy it is a representative democracy, the sad fact is that more Americans vote for American Idol than care about politics.

Thats the real sad issue. Dead people and people being slaughtered in the world doesnt fit in the Poly Anna existance of some people.It bums them out to think we F—ked up> and elected a guy who play dresses as a cowboy and has failed at every endeavor he has ever touched.

Dont get me started on the congress criters.
 
Written By: x2master
URL: http://
Mark, I was only pointing out the 94,965,901 voters have NO say it what goes down in this country. The country is effectivley gerymandered to suit the needs of the republicans.

Joe, the president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a Bush appinteee who has in the past used tax payer (but not CPB) funds for producing administration friendly shows that have not been idendified as being paid for by the tax payers. These have been shown as independent news reports.

Left leaning reporters at CPB are not expecting big raises this year.





 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
What is happening at CPB is one of the few bright spots in the Bush administration. Left leaning reporters at CPB is redundant.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
No say, cindyb?

You mean everything from NCLB to the war in Iraq to the tax cuts were basically straight up-or-down votes that were entirely divided along party lines? No Dem voted for a GOP-sponsored bill, no Republican crossed over to support a Democratic initiative?

Or do you mean that some 94 million Americans are represented by the party out of power, in which case, the same is true (in smaller numbers of course) in each state of the union. Thus, there are several million Republicans who "have no voice" by your lights in NJ. "Some representative democracy, huh?"

And what if it were a straight democracy? You think that you’ll get unanimous results, or will the folks who lose in such votes still be calling out sour grapes and lamenting "Some democracy, huh!"
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
cindyb wrote:
The study you note on media bias claims that the mean opinion (that is non-bias at the to the right or the left) would be the average opinion of the members of the (republican dominated) house of representitives.

Anyone reading the methodology would realize that the study was just a political tool. It was not an academic study.
Cindy, you don’t understand the study. It uses Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) scores to rank individual legislators.

The study states:
We also recorded the average adjusted ADA score of the member who cited the think tank. We use adjusted scores, constructed by Groseclose, Levitt, and Snyder (1999), because we need the scores to be comparable across time and chambers.[12] Groseclose, Levitt, and Snyder (1999) use the 1980 House scale as their base year and chamber. It is convenient for us to choose a scale that gives centrist members of Congress a score of about 50. For this reason we converted scores to the 1999 House scale.[13]
Note that Tom Delay has a ranking of 4.7 and Maxine Waters a ranking of 99.6. Ted Kennedy has a score of 88.8.

From this adjusted ADA ranking, they are able to estimate the ADA ranking of think tanks (based on the ADA score of legislators who cited the think tanks), and from there rank media outlets (by the think tanks they cited).

The Wall Street Journal (news, not op-ed pgs) is slightly to the right of Ted Kennedy and to the left of Tom Daschle. CBS and NYT are very close to Joe Lieberman. The Washington Times is well to the left of Tom Ridge.

Even if a score of 50 wasn’t centrist, the study would still map from politician to new outlet. If Cindy thinks Ted Kennedy is a moderate, then perhaps she thinks the study shows a right wing bias in the news. However, for her to say it isn’t an academic study belies ignorance, since it presents a mapping from politicians to news outlets, regardless of what we consider the idelogical center.

However, 50 is probably close to the real center. The study also states:
Note: The table gives our estimates of adjusted ADA scores for media outlets, converted to the 1999 House scale. As a comparison, 50.06 is our estimate of the average American voter. This is based upon taking average scores of House members and senators after adding phantom (extreme liberal) D.C. House members and senators and weighting Senate scores by the population of the state. The average score of Republicans serving in Congress between 1995 and 1999 was 16.1. The average score of Democrats was 84.3.
Note the average Democrat rating and the average Republican rating. They added phantom leftist so that the average overall came out to 50, canceling out any number advantage for Republicans.

Again, here is the study:
http://www.polisci.ucla.edu/faculty/groseclose/Media.Bias.8.htm


 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Scarboro noted that earlier this year, "a raid on an IED factory ... netted two bomb-makers who hold master’s degrees in chemistry and physics — from U.S. colleges."
Phew! Good thing that thanks to 2 liberal Jews on SCOTUS, a backstabbing bachelor, a Europhile, and an 83-year old man the two are now entitled to full POW benefits!

I wonder if the US taxpayer paid for their bomb-making skills as they likely got in under "I’m a political refugee from evil Saddam" visas, thus were entitled to a host of benefits like free medical care, welfare, and free college here in the USA???

Cindyb - As others have pointed out, your "190 million people voted for Senator last time" are nonsensical rectal pluck matter.

We are a Republic. That means we don’t allocate to States the Senators based on apportioning the national vote totals Senators get. Direct election in the States. Look it up sometime in the "Constitution" along with another exotic concept called "The Electoral College". Fascinating document!

Are you arguing that we should abandon states directly electing their Representatives while you counterargue that the President should be directly elected? And the Constitution changed to reflect that? Or is it just election sour grapes before the Dems once again gain office thanks to Bush bumbling and K-Street Republican greed???
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Over 6 six years, A voter would have the opportunity to elect two senators in general elections.

This would account for total being large than the presidential vote.

Steve
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
Wow, and here I was thinking that representatives of the people represented ALL people within their district.

Heck, I’ve sent and received letters back from both the Republican representatives and the Democratic representatives.

Wonder what state cindy is living in, where ones representation stops when someone from the other party wins???
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Note in the above, the Republican ADA average is 16.1 while the Democrat ADA average is 84.3. Averaging the two gives 50.2.

By contrast, using Cindy’s numbers:
Democratic Candidates: 94,965,901
Republican Candidates: 94,369,075
Shows that 50.16% vote Democrat.

In other words, Cindy’s numbers and the ADA numbers used in the study are in substantial agreement.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
McQ~

I don’t dispute your view of journalists and particularly editors. But don’t you think there is a corresponding mindset among the military—we’ve never lost a war; it’s all the fault of the [politicians][brass][media][public]. You see it in the report you cite. Give me a brigade of special forces and I can control the insurgency. If only the [brass][politicians][media] would get out of the way, we could get our job done.

I’m sure that’s the attitude I want the military to have, but I’m not sure that it makes for very objective analysis during the conflict.
 
Written By: Steven Donegal
URL: http://
See. This thread is an example of why we need a better class of liberal contributing here. How can I be instructed and move to the left when every liberal who comments here goes down in flames - not only by counterarguments, but by having their arguments cut out from under them or exposed as misrepresentations and outright lies. Liberals are apparently held to very low standards on their training ground liberal blogs. Note what happened to the left’s new star Greenwald when he tried to buffalo qando commenters. Qando commenters are some of the best in the business.
Kudos to cindyb for taking them on. Sorry cindyb, not yet ready for prime time.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
Although this discussion of the technical aspects of political statistics gathering is fascinating, just about everyone has missed the point of McQ’s column.

The actual participants in the field in Iraq (soldiers, journalists, etc.) are telling one story from first hand experience. These men and women are making the very serious charge that those doing the reporting back home in the US (using second and sometimes third hand information) are, at best, highly inaccurate in their reporting, or at worst outright lying about facts and altering reports. Those who are complaining about this inaccurate reporting are not a small number of diehards, but a significant majority of the soldiers (and journalists) involved directly in Iraq. Until this disconnect between stateside editors and overseas participants is fixed, John Q. Public is highly unlikely to receive anything resembling accurate, balanced information about the day to day goings on in Iraq or the overall picture.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://
I don’t dispute your view of journalists and particularly editors. But don’t you think there is a corresponding mindset among the military—we’ve never lost a war; it’s all the fault of the [politicians][brass][media][public]. . . .
Steven,

They are right. It is all the fault of the politicians, brass, and media. It may be possible that, for example, the politicians have a point: maybe if we went in to win in Vietnam it would have lead to WWIII. But we certainly had the capacity to win.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
See. This thread is an example of why we need a better class of liberal contributing here.
Not just here. Everywhere. And it’s been this way for some time.

I recall the debates on talk.politics.guns mid 90s. It was amazing how the left would lie supporting gun control, even when they knew they couldn’t back up their arguments and that someone would call them on it, as they repeated the same defeated arguments again and again.

No wonder the left has no ideas or policies they wish to present to voters.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Although this discussion of the technical aspects of political have a strange aversion to rhyming ;^]statistics gathering is fascinating, just about everyone has missed the point of McQ’s column.
Speaking for myself, Omar, I didn’t "miss the point", but instead had nothing to add to the discussion that hasn’t already been pointed out ad nauseum. I thought Bruce covered it pretty well.

In fact, I wouldn’t have commented at all if not for the egregious error of cindyb (those numbers just looked too strange).

MJW

P.S. You know, for a poet, one would think you’d have at least one post that rhymed ;^/
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://wdswrld.blogspot.com
I don’t dispute your view of journalists and particularly editors. But don’t you think there is a corresponding mindset among the military—we’ve never lost a war; it’s all the fault of the [politicians][brass][media][public]. . . .
Of course, which is why I said:

And you have to remember that soldiers and reporters approach this from different directions and different perspectives.

But then, look at the change with journalism from WW II to VN. It wasn’t the so much the soldier who changed, but instead the press. There was no antagonism between press and military then, at least not at the level you find it now ... among the trooops (not the brass, not the pentagon, etc).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
But don’t you think there is a corresponding mindset among the military—we’ve never lost a war; it’s all the fault of the [politicians][brass][media][public].
Well, which wars have we lost?
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
But then, look at the change with journalism from WW II to VN. It wasn’t the so much the soldier who changed, but instead the press. There was no antagonism between press and military then, at least not at the level you find it now ... among the trooops (not the brass, not the pentagon, etc).
I Korea, two brothers and WW2 Marines served as corresondents. IIRC, they saved the lives of our troops and sometimes killed the enemy.

Even in Vietnam many correspondents carried arms and founght alongside our troops. Particularly in the early part of the war.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
MichaelW, I concede you are right
I simply wished to use all my might
To end this silly little fight
O’er the plight
of the facts which have been spun a mite.
I hope you’ll agree
or at least say, "Aight."
And now with this rhyme done,
I wish you good night.


Not my best work, but as MichaelW pointed out, I haven’t really been living up to my namesake. ;)
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://
McQ, as I recall, the 7th ID used to be based at Ft. Ord, and they were deactivated sometime in the early nineties. I was at Ft. Carson from ’93-’96 and it was the home of the 4th ID(M). When did the 7th get reactivated? Or was another division reflagged as the 7th?
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
When did the 7th get reactivated?
I want to say 1998 or ’99.
Or was another division reflagged as the 7th?
Not that I know of. The idea was to begin putting together structures under which to hang these independent combat brigades (such as the NG separate bdes). The round out concept just wasn’t working well and it was decided, as I understand it, to put an AC command structure in charge of getting these guys into a semblence of shape to allow for them to deploy more quickly in future wars. But they’ll deploy as brigades, not as a division.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog

 
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