Harlingen, Texas, August 24, 2005: It really doesn’t matter what news service or publication you pick up. The drone of defeatism moans on and on. In this case it was CNN.com on August 18, 2005. - At Least 43 Killed, 88 Wounded in ‘Coordinated Attacks’ reads the headline. The article reports on a string of car bombings in central Baghdad. “The blasts came as transitional government officials worked to complete the new constitution.”
A paragraph later the story continues, “A car bomb exploded outside the al-Nahda bus terminal. A second car bomb exploded 10 minutes later.” But, we can almost recite the news article without seeing it in print. Like the majority of filings from Iraq, this was more bombs and bodies, created from information picked up at the daily news briefing.
On the wall of my office is a treasured photograph of the Iwo Jima Flag Raising. Famed Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Joe Rosenthal signed the picture and gave it to me as we sat together on a flight from Chicago to San Francisco.
Joe is a distinguished member of the United States Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association. The San Francisco chapter of that organization is named in his honor.
In the bookcase across from my desk is a collection of writings by Joe Galloway. To my knowledge he is the only civilian reporter ever awarded the Bronze Star for valor. He earned it rescuing wounded soldiers in the La Drang Valley of Vietnam.
Galloway, more famed for his co-authorship of “We Were Soldiers Once – And Young” is still writing on military issues.
It is with great respect that I call these two combat correspondents my friends. However, the list of quality reporters and photographers covering war zones doesn’t run very deep. For every Rosenthal or Galloway on the scene, there are a hundred who do their war reports from the daily situation room of the military command or the bar of their well-protected hotel.
The comprehensive reporting of the initial war correspondents in Iraq pleasantly surprised most Americans. Embedded with the military units they were detailed and very fair in everything they reported during the major combat of the war. If only they had remained in place to report on the events of the insurgency and our battle to win the peace.
Instead, these media heroes were replaced by a band of reporters who seldom venture far from the secure Green Zone of Baghdad and have failed miserably at putting a human face on the people of Iraq or reporting the humanity displayed by the men and women of our armed forces.
These failed journalists and photographers provide us with the daily body count, roadside bombs and burning vehicles. They report on prison degradation and insurgent attacks. They have their pulse on bombed pipelines, electric outages, damaged mosques and failed diplomacy, all long after the events have become items in the military press briefings.
American losses are the main thrust of most stories coming out of Iraq. But, even these reports fail to give a clear picture to the readers. Have they ever told readers in this country that the human losses we have suffered are the lowest of all our military conflicts? I think not.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944 alone, more than three times the number of servicemen lost in a year of Iraq combat, perished in the attack.
As of now we have lost less than 1,900 service personnel to hostile fire in Iraq. When it is understood that almost 350,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen were involved initially involved in the war and a force of about 138,000 now remain in place, this is less than a 1% casualty rate. If we use the same method of computing casualty rates based on the size of military troops deployed, we had a rate of 6.2% in Vietnam, 6.6% in World War II and 6.8% in World War I.
And where are the stories about soldiers adopting children in a kindergarten class? Where is the news about a National Guard company training more than 3,500 Baghdad police? Where are the stories of schools renovated and hospitals being reopened? They can’t be written from behind the protective walls of the Baghdad Hilton.
The American public can no longer expect media heroes to step forward. Even if their stories were written or produced, chances of fair presentation are remote. The liberal faction in the United States desperately wants any election victory. Toward that objective they view everything as fair game. It matters not if they savage the Commander in Chief while he is engaged in the serious business of warfare, or they refuse to print the accomplishments of our men and women in uniform. Doing what is right for the country is not part of their political agenda, doing what is politically explosive is!
The media today ranks itself as being 34% liberal and 59% moderate (which for most is a back door way of not admitting liberal bias). Only 7% of those in the media admit to being conservative.
This is in sharp contrast to the national population which rate itself as 20% being liberal and 33% being conservative.
So, where have all the media heroes gone? There were never more than a few Joe Rosenthals and Joe Galloways. We can hope those who walk in their shadows will step forward again. If they do, what they report to the people will burn brightly.