Selective (or Just Plain Made Up) Information

It’s funny how having a particular mind-set can allow you to notice things that otherwise would have passed unobserved. What I believe is the most newsworthy article in today’s Post was not on the front page, but in the Style section: A recommendation from television and radio news consultants that news outlets not cover the antiwar protests: Bad for ratings, you understand. I won’t go into detail (the article’s worth reading for that), but it’s an inevitable consequence of the broadcast media being consolidated into a few corporate entities. At least as far as broadcast media goes, you can forget about any semblance of objectivity — they’re sticking with the lowest common denominator.

One thing that struck me in the article was a denial by WTOP news director Jim Farley that they would consider taking the advice of such a consultant. Noble sentiment. Then on the way in to work this morning, I listened. A whole slew of war updates, but no mention whatsoever of the antiwar “die-in” protests going on right here in Washington — except on the traffic reports. I may start listening to WAMU or WETA (our local NPR affiliates) instead.

RumsfeldThe other big news story is the admission that the war is likely to take a lot longer than was originally anticipated. Okay, we’re left with two alternatives here. One, our military brass was so incredibly stupid as to not have learned a thing from, oh, say, Vietnam. Sure, the Iraqi people hate Saddam, but we’re invading their goddamn country! And nobody thought that maybe, just maybe, a few of them might be a little upset at that? Or two, whatever their assessments of the most likely course of events, the military at least realized that a protracted engagement was a strong possibility. But knowing that a realistic picture wouldn’t go over too well with the general population (i.e., the S.P.), the Bush administration chose to push the notion that it’d be a cakewalk. Now that that’s obviously not the case, they’re in serious backpedal mode, blaming it all on the military planners.

I’ve known a few military officers in my time. And if my acquaintances (and family members) are any indication, then option one is most definitely not the case. Which leaves us with alternative two there. And the worst part about it is not that we were lied to, but that our soldiers were lied to as well, leaving them largely unprepared for what they were to face. And now little George is upset at the media (the same ones who’ve been swallowing his interpretations hook, line, and sinker, remember?) for actually daring to ask him (what he calls “silly”) questions about the crater-sized holes in his story.

It’s a shame to realize that Americans are going to have to start seeing body bags returning from the battlefield before they’ll understand that war — no matter how morally justified — has much more serious consequences than Bush’s hawks would have had us believe.


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