View Full Version : All The News That’s… A Rebuttal

04-30-2008, 02:07 AM
All The News That’s… A Rebuttal (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/04/all-the-news-thats-a-rebuttal/)
By Jill Russell at SWJ Blog

I have known Bob Bateman several years through our mutual participation in H-War, another internet forum, and from that experience I have great respect for him. However, I must disagree with his dismissive critique (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/04/all-the-news-thats/) of David Barstow’s New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/washington/20generals.html?hp). To the contrary, I would argue that the muted tones of the piece belied problems far deeper than would be inferred from his recent blog post. That retired officers are acting as the puppets of DoD in their role as network and cable news military analysts is troubling when examined within the historical context of the Vietnam War’s effect upon the credibility of military officers and the subsequent decades-long effort to restore their reputation for integrity. Thus, if the NYT article deserves criticism, I would submit it’s for missing the real significance, in big historic terms, of the military “analyst” story.

It may seem almost heretical to suggest, but the single greatest casualty of the Vietnam War for the American military was not the damage done to cohesion and morale, or training and readiness. These are actually fairly common occurrences in the aftermath of any American war, successful or not. Rather, the real tragedy of that war was the American public’s loss of faith in the credibility of the military leadership. And although there is constant scholarly (and other) jousting as to the outcome and ramifications of the Tet Offensive, what cannot be disputed is that it was at this point in the war that the American people began to doubt the veracity of what they heard from their nation’s officers. The constant repetition that the “light at the end of the tunnel” was in sight, that the war’s successful conclusion was just around the corner, could not be squared with the events of ’68...

Ron Humphrey
04-30-2008, 02:39 AM
All The News That’s… A Rebuttal (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2008/04/all-the-news-thats-a-rebuttal/)
By Jill Russell at SWJ Blog

That this as so far portrayed was probably not the best idea, it would seem to be a job for the military and defense department to police themselves.

Might just be me but if media and politicians start trying to make this an issue they should probably be very careful to consider their own tendencies in this regard.

I would darn well guarantee that when it comes to punditry and staying on message they would have very little room to talk if not willing to place themselves under the same scrutiny. I mean would we not consider the good news is no news policy that many seem to follow quite a strong form of staying on message especially when one accepts that if I only tell you the bad and stay away from good then I will end up with you the reader, listener, etc feeling that there is no good news.

I think the SecDef had it right when he said that anyone who speaks should make sure that all understand they are speaking for themselves and not the military.

Just a side note:
Would someone please explain to me how different it is when media and or politicians choose to cite (anonymous) sources in the military to support their own premises. And lets not even get into statistics.

Ken White
04-30-2008, 04:19 AM
much stock or faith in anything that appears on or in mainstream American media...

As the author illustrates, the tawdry process by the TV folks was to be expected; that some Generals shill for contractors has been long known; and that DoD would attempt to influence coverage was to be expected -- and of no great consequence. Or real effect.

I think her concern for a loss of respect for the Institution and for 'senior military leaders' is valid but overstated. That loss will occur with some who know little of the military, the majority of Americans will go ho-hum and move on.

Hopefully, everyone learned something from this; the Five sided funny farm to be a little smarter in their PR; the 'military analysts' of the future to be more careful of what they do; the TV news squirrels to get some basic common sense and the vast unwashed to pay little attention to retired military folks (and spooks -- anybody do an article yet on their self serving bloviating?) who come out of the woodwork.

I haven't talked to anyone who did pay much attention to them but obviously a few people did. Can't figure why...