Are The Media Poisoning American Resolve?

The majority of Americans charge the Bush Administration is not prosecuting the war effectively. The mainstream media, however, use this polling information to advance anti-Bush, anti-war positions.

An example of this can be seen in an August 14 Knight Ridder article. Under a headline reading “Majority of public opposes Iraq war” is a lengthy article generally summarized in one paragraph which reads, “New polls report that for the first time a majority of Americans reject President Bush’s contention that the war over there is making us safer over here. Indeed, baring major immediate progress in Iraq, 2005 may well be remembered as the year when public opinion went south and never came back…”

Though thinking people realize polls only reflect how people feel about specific questions at that brief moment in time, they are rarely reported as such. This is but one of the several ways our media present opinion as fact. When generalized polls are reported as hard news, when bombs and body counts are the lead stories on radio and television news shows, when a small band of war protesters are presented as “growing” sentiment against the conflict in Iraq, the poisoning of American resolve must be the intended outcome.

There is little doubt our “main stream” media is out of sync with objective reporting. This dates back dozens of years to the infiltration of journalism schools by left-of-center professors and has been exacerbated nationally by the teachings of higher education faculties dominated by those proclaiming a liberal philosophy.

Today their former students have become a small army of reporters, writers, editors and journalism staff members who are the dominant personnel in major newspapers, news magazines and electronic media across the United States. They are the people who attempt to control the news for the entire country.

But, this is not the United States or the world of thirty years ago. With the Internet, online publications, Blogs, conservative talk radio and the gaining prominence of the Fox News Channel, Americans are hearing the sounds of different drummers.

War protesters are quick to say they are still patriotic and still support our troops, even though they are against the war. That doesn’t wash very well with most veterans, retired military personnel or the men and women in uniform.

Ed Evans is a retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant who makes his home in Nashville, Tennessee. With some choice adjectives, he reflects that everyone has an opinion on the war, but further argues, “Our military operations are not subject to democratic selection. We need to get out of the administration’s way and let them prosecute our national defense, here and overseas.”

Evans adds, “Every attack on our own government administration is played up by the foreign media, builds the enemy’s morale, and undercuts the administration’s ability to operate.”

Lieutenant Colonel Tim Ryan, then commanding a unit of the First Calvary Division in Iraq wrote a scathing commentary on the media. He says print and video journalists are covering only a small fraction of events in Iraq and more often than not, the events they cover are the bad ones. “Many of the journalists making public assessments about the progress of the war in Iraq are unqualified to do so, given their training and experience. The inaccurate picture they paint has distorted the worldview of the daily realities in Iraq. The result is a further erosion of international support for the United States’ efforts there and a strengthening of the insurgent’s resolve and recruiting efforts, while weakening our own. Through their incomplete, uninformed and unbalanced reporting, many members of the media covering the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy.”

Steve Valley is an Army First Sergeant recently returned with his company from Iraq. He says, “I think the war is being managed just fine. It’s funny how everyone back home and in Washington become military strategy experts after the fact. I have a great idea. Why don’t the politicians do some politicking, the media do whatever they contribute to society and leave the strategizing and fighting to the heroes in theater fighting the war.”

He continues saying “Isn’t it funny that the insurgents have killed thousands of innocent Iraqis and the media basically ignores the story. But, whenever, and it is rare, a Coalition member kills or injures and innocent it is like the end of the world. They expect us to change our ROE (Rules of Engagement) every time we make an error in judgment. Sometimes its tough to know who your friends are and who is really the enemy. We follow the rules of war. The terrorists don’t. We did not target innocents or religious or holy sites, but once we received fire, that site was not exclusionary anymore. If our safety was in question then we protected ourselves…we live and die by the sword and more of us are living than dying.”

The First Sergeant concluded his remarks saying, “Americans only hear the body counts from the media and there is so much more going on. How come the public never hears about the refurbished schools that are now open, the new hospitals, the major improvements in electricity generation, sewage and water plant construction, the new freedoms for women and the implementation of a true democracy in a region of the world that has never seen one?”

In the interest of openness, I admit that as a conservative writer I support the administration and the war effort. However, there are also 61% of the people in this country that feel the Administration is not doing a good job of conducting war operations in Iraq. I am a member of that group, but I still feel the figure does not mean 61% of Americans are against the war. On a similar note, I also feel the media and the left are playing those numbers to their own benefit. Searching through the dozens upon dozens of email messages I have received on this topic, the antidotal evidence shows most veterans and military personnel are of the same mind.

Retired Army Colonel Harry Riley, writing from Florida says, “I am agitated that President Bush and Congress allow Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and perhaps others to continue harboring, funding and supporting the Islamic militants that oppose us in Iraq…and bomb us in our own lands.”

Riley argues we don’t need to go to war with these countries to convince them we mean business. He feels that perhaps a reminder of what happened to Khadaffi in Libya or what the Israelis did to Saddam’s nuclear reactor would be enough. The colonel believes that if we warned them…and then saw no action relative to our terms, we should take out selected targets. “What the hell do we have to lose?” he says. “The Islamic militants are after us anyway and we need to make these countries pay a price for their continued support of the barbaric killers.”

Retired Air force Technical Sergeant Kevin Healey of Little Compton, RI feels the President was able to rally the American people in the aftermath of 9/11 because he was strong, angry and had a fire in his belly. “Somewhere along the way that fire has gone out”, he laments. “I don’t know what happened and its way above my pay grade to figure out a solution to the mess in Baghdad. It seems to me however, that somewhere along the way politics and political correctness has become part of the problem.”

Marine Captain Rory Quinn provided a fitting conclusion to this commentary with some eloquent words, which were printed on August 5, 2005 in the International Herald Tribune.

Quinn talked about returning to Iraq for another tour of duty. “In six weeks my rifle company will deploy again, this time to Ramadi. We will patrol the city for seven months and train Iraqi security forces…and then come home, God willing, with every man in one piece. But, even without any scratches, my 19-year-old men will never be the same. Gone will be the self-absorbed, pleasure-focused children raised on video games. Instead, they will humbly want to serve society and make the world a better place.

“If the policy makers and politicians choose the right path, if they spend our lives wisely, this global war on terror will be a Normandy, and not a Vietnam. Through the actions of our service members and the sacrifices of our Maloneys (A Marine killed in action) we are transforming Iraq. As we return home, we are also transforming the face of America.”

And, many more voices will be heard.