Jewish World Review April 2, 2003 / 29 Adar II, 5763
Debra J. Saunders
The PR war
When mainstream journalists report both sides of
racism -- pro and con,
with equal weight -- or both sides of having a free
press in America, then I'll believe that American
media don't take sides on issues, and that there is at
least a rationale for American media not rooting for
U.S. troops to win in Iraq. But that day will never
There are certain issues on which thinking
Americans don't disagree. Discrimination against
minorities is bad. Period. (There are disagreements
on how to achieve racial equality, but not whether
racial equality is desirable.) A free press isn't optional
-- who would want to live in an America without it?
The same bias should apply to U.S. victory in Iraq.
Yes, serious people can disagree on whether
U.S.-led forces should have gone into Iraq. But
serious anti-war Americans understand the
consequences of a U.S. capitulation.
A U.S. pullout would send a green light to terrorists
everywhere. It would invite global chaos and violence.
If that doesn't scare journalists, they should think of
how the news media likely would be silenced in a
world that welcomes the likes of Saddam Hussein.
It makes you wonder why leftist media critics are
wringing their hands over the embedding of journalists
with soldiers on the front and how that embedding
might undermine objective reporting.
I can only assume that these salvos are designed to
goad journalists into asking critical questions at
Pentagon press conferences. Alas for the public,
those questions turn out like this one put to Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last Friday: "You also
said the fedayeen Saddam were onesies and
twosies. Do you still stand by both those
To the extent the media are sympathetic with U.S.
troops, solid news coverage is not a casualty. Here's
First, the American people are getting the facts.
Voters know U.S. forces have killed civilians, that
Hussein's thugs have killed Iraqi citizens, and that
the fedayeen have posed as civilians to kill allied
Second, the American media are running negative
war stories. News outlets have obsessed on Lt. Gen.
William Wallace's assertion that the war would last
longer than the Pentagon anticipated and, "The
enemy we're fighting is different from the one we
Yes, it's important for reporters to explore the
probable length of the war,
as well as Pentagon miscalculations. But some
journalists frame the issue in a way that all but
ignores victorious skirmishes, and focuses on words,
Who, but members of the media, would ask in the
second week of a war: What happened to Vice
President Cheney's prediction that the war would last
"weeks rather than months?"
Third, who's the journalist whose reportage has
suffered? Peter Arnett, formerly of CNN and now
formerly of MSNBC. Arnett wasn't embedded with
Iraqi troops, but foreign journalists are embedded with
Iraqi government "minders."
While other reporters were agonizing over whether
they've been compromised by embedding, the
ostensibly-objective Arnett was gushing on Iraqi TV
that the Ministry of Information granted reporters "a
degree of freedom which we appreciate."
A degree of freedom -- as in less than zero?
Hussein's thugs threw CNN's Nic Robertson out of
Iraq. Two Newsday reporters are missing and
presumed to be the unwilling guests of Hussein's
forces. Any more of what Arnett hailed as "freedom"
and there'd be a whole gaggle of press behind bars in
In Washington, reporters question whether
embedding restricts their freedom.
In Baghdad, a Pulitzer Prize winner gushes about
their degree of freedom. That's one of many reasons
the U.S. media should root for an American victory - -
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate