View Full Version : Press Exaggerations Test American Will

03-08-2006, 12:34 PM
7 March American Forces Press Service - Press Exaggerations Test American Will (http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2006/20060307_4417.html).

The will of the American people is the center of gravity for the war on terror, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said during a Pentagon news conference today.

Exaggerated reporting is giving the American people a false picture of what is happening in Iraq, the secretary said. "Interestingly, all of the exaggerations seem to be on one side," he said. "It isn't as though there simply have been a series of random errors on both sides of issues. On the contrary, the steady stream of errors, all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists and to discourage those who hope for success in Iraq."

Rumsfeld pointed to reporting that exaggerated the number of mosques attacked and the number of Iraqis killed in the violence that followed the bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra Feb. 22.

Fomenting a civil war was the impetus behind bombing the sacred shrine, and press stories exaggerating the violence that followed played into terrorists' hands, he said. "It has been and remains a time of testing for the Iraqi people, but the Iraqis are meeting that test thus far successfully, I would say, and defying the seeming rush to ... proclaim exactly what the terrorists seek, namely a civil war," he said.

A recent poll shows most Americans believe Iraq is already involved in a civil war. Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace said the Iraqi people looked "into the abyss" of civil war and stepped back.

The truth in the country is those who want civil war in Iraq are disappointed, the secretary said. "First, the Iraqi security forces have taken the lead in controlling the situation," Rumsfeld said. Coalition forces assisted Iraqi soldiers and police.

"Second, the Iraqi government leaders took a number of key steps that have had a calming effect in the situation," he said. "They imposed a curfew, and the leaders of most of the major parties have stepped forward to publicly urge restraint on all parties."

Reports after the bombing indicated that sectarian groups had burned and sacked thousands of mosques. This was wrong, the secretary said echoing information passed by Army Gen. George Casey, commander of multinational forces in Iraq. Further, contrary to reports, Iraqi security forces behaved well and provided security in Samarra, as well as in Shiite and Sunni areas of the country, Rumsfeld said.

Overall levels of violence in Iraq have not increased substantially as a result of the Golden Mosque bombing, officials in Baghdad said. However, violence continues and continues to affect formation of the Iraqi government.

"In the coming months, Iraqis will face difficult obstacles in controlling illegal militias, and we know that," Rumsfeld said. "They're working to try to strengthen their ministries, and we're trying to help them.

"And their effort to fashion a unity government that will represent all elements of their society is clearly being delayed by the situation in Iraq," he continued.

"Nonetheless, the leadership being shown by the Iraqi security forces, by the Iraqi government officials in the wake of these attacks against the shrine has to be seen as encouraging, despite the apparent unwillingness of some to accept it."

Merv Benson
03-08-2006, 04:15 PM
The Secretary of Defenses take down of the journalistic malpractice in connection with an alleged Iraqi "Civil War" did not make the front pages of the papers responsible for this meme. It points out the problem of trying to get you position out through the same filter that created the misimpression. They are defensive at best. What Rumsfeld needs is a Defense Department media blog that can Fisk the bogus media reports with facts. These blog post would be picked up by other bloggers and talk radion bypassing the main stream media's protective shield. Liddell Hart would call it an indirect attack. Some of the people who are preparing the release and stories that the DOD cranks out everyday could be assigned to the fact checking and blog post. I discussed this proposal here (http://prairiepundit.blogspot.com/2006/03/defense-department-needs-its-own-blog.html). The Secretary is becoming more focused on the media war. It is time for a new strategy.

03-08-2006, 04:59 PM
If the press isn't quick to pass on what the Secretary of Defense says it might be because:

1) It's his job to defend the country, not tell the truth. He will lie to the press if he feels it's necessary, and I for one would support him in that. The press knows this, and telling the truth is their job, so they've got to fact check him.

2) Our present secretary has a particularly blunt and aggressive style that many press types find abrasive. Personally, I rather enjoy it. Nevertheless, for a guy who says American public opinion is our center of gravity, he ought to work harder to protect it. Which might include making nice with a lot of reporters who didn't vote for his boss. Same time, reporters should probably get over themselves to get their story straight.

3) Secretary Rumsfeld has been wrong before. Majorly so. Osama bin Laden slipping the noose at Tora Bora, the nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that weren't, the Ba'athist bitter enders who turned out to be a full blown Islamist, Shi'ite and Sunni insurgency, which was on its last legs not so long ago, etc. You can't blame the Secretary himself for all of this, however it's not really fair to say that none of it is his fault, either. The press should rightfully be wary of any pronouncement which the Secretary makes at this point, because even the idiots among them should realize that this is war, the enemy has a seat at the table, and so our guy just plain doesn't know everything he thinks he does. No one can.

4) Reporting Iraq is a more dangerous job than anything the press has ever faced. The insurgents directly target journalists of all stripes for kidnapping, torture and execution. That affects their perception of the war in a lot of ways, it's understandable if they can't completely correct for it.

5) Finally, Secretary Rumsfeld is a government official. And a political appointee. And he's in the Pentagon. That's three reasons to doubt anything that comes out of his mouth right there - sad to say, but our high political and military officials have a poor history with the truth, whichever party they're from and whichever decade you're talking about.

And still, every news service in the world has reporters waiting at the Secretary's beck and call for any information he cares to give them. If they don't print his line word for word, well that's just them doing their jobs. He's got more access and more influence with the "mainstream media" than almost anyone in the western world. And yes, he's free to start a blog.

03-08-2006, 05:24 PM
It's his job to defend the country, not tell the truth. He will lie to the press if he feels it's necessary, and I for one would support him in that.
He also manipulates them with controversy.

And yes, he's free to start a blog.
He does not have a computer, or so I hear.

03-10-2006, 05:56 PM
I think every politician in modern memory has claimed the media was out to discredit their agenda. They're all a bunch of whining panzies as far as I'm concerned :).

I do not think it is any different in this war than others....the instigators of the war want to paint a rosey picture to justify the fact that they started the war and the press wants to report what sells the most newspapers (bad news). The media is not out to get the republican party - it is out to make a buck. And Rumsfeld is not out to give the American people a clear message about how the war is going - it is in his best interest (and in the administration's best interest) to always make it appear that there is improvement. I think we have to take both with a little (OK, maybe a lot) skepticism.