Fat Steve's Blatherings

Monday, June 13, 2005

Boy, Do They Not Get It

      Even otherwise sensible people like Jay Rosen don't understand why the public, with reason, thinks the MSM is anti-military and unpatriotic.

  • Some 66 to 85 journalists and journalistic have been killed in Iraq.

  • Of the 66 listed by the Committee to Protect Journalists, I count one accident (land mine), 4 killed by the Iraqi Army, 7 killed by unknowns (cross fire, found dead in Fallujah, etc.), 11 by U.S. or other coalition forces.  That's a subtotal of 23.

  • The other 43 (plus over 100 non-journalists who died in the same incidents) were killed by “unidentified assailants,” “armed gunmen, presumably Iraqi insurgents,” “suicied bombers,” and “a militant group.”

  • The word “terrorist” isn't used to describe any of the killers.

  • The CPJ and other journalists' organizations are very ticked off about the 11-14 the U.S. has killed, and want independent investigations.  They aren't satisfied they were killed by accident, or while taken for enemy combatants.  Many members of the MSM suspect members of the armed forces may have killed the journalists deliberately.

  • The terrorists have murdered 3 to 5 journalists for every one killed in any circumstances by the U.S.  Most killed by the terrorists are killed deliberately, with individual targeting.  The typical MSM complaint about that is that the Iraqi government and coalition forces haven't done enough to protect the journalists, who are apparently much more important than the non-media Iraqis being killed by the hundreds per week.  I have yet to see a word of criticism from the press of the murdering terrorist scum who deliberately killed 43-62 journalists.

  • But don't you dare say the MSM is unpatriotic, or anti-military.

At Length:
      Jay Rosen had a long, very interesting post about Bob Franken of CNN, and what Rosen calls the “religion of journalism.” (Hat tip: Instapundit)  There's also a ton of great comments.  I intend to do at least one more post in reaction to it all, but now I want to focus on one thing -- dead journalists.

      Commenter Pierre Legrand wrote:
      What I want first is to win the damn war. Free press is secondary to winning the war. It was also secondary to winning the war in WW2 and we managed to survive. What I am seeing here are a bunch of journalists who think that their desire to be journalists trumps my desire to survive this war. . . .

      Any journalist who causes the death of one US soldier damns the rest of journalism.

      This led Rosen to reply:
      Pierre Legrand: any idea how many journalists have been killed in Iraq?

      So fustian asked:
      Jay, why does the number of journalists killed in Iraq have anything to do with the desire for "our" journalists to be responsible and at least nominally factual?

      While Legrand rejoined:
      I refuse to feel sorry for those journalists who have some doubt about whose side they are on. . . . Thats [sic] cold and I know it but we are at war and if more journalists acted like they cared if we won I might feel differently.

      So Rosen responded (in full):
      "The deadliest country for journalists in the last decade is Iraq, where 36 journalists have been killed, all since the beginning of hostilities in March 2003. Another 18 media support workers were killed in Iraq during that time." -- Committee to Protect Journalists

      "Jay, why does the number of journalists killed in Iraq have anything to do with the desire for 'our' journalists to be responsible and at least nominally factual?"

      Why?  Because a lot of you don't know very much about the people in the press whom you're attacking and condemning as anti-American.  You don't understand their motives or principles or sacrifices.  (Do you really think their [sic] willing to die to "get Bush?" It's absurd, yet asserted repeatedly.)  You proclaim yourselves "absolutely sure" about what's in the heart of news people when you should be absolutely cautious about the generalizations you are making.  You show no modesty or sense of proportion in your fiery condemnations.  You wallow.  You project hate.

      You object to unsubstantiated charges by Eason Jordan and Linda Foley, and then make ridiculously overblown charges--like American journalists are opposed to victory in Iraq--but the contradiction doesn't bother you.  You make blanket statements about things like the coverage of the Iraqi elections that are virtually fact free, while screaming all the while for "just the facts."  You pretend to be tough when you aren't doing--or risking--what those correspondents are doing.  You would be helped by thinking about those 36 before indulging yourself next time.

      And based on much of what I read here you have no earthly idea why they put themselves in such danger, nor do you seem interested because asking the question might disturb the comfort of your ideological enclosure.

      That's why.

      Now I have to say, just as a matter of logic, I don't see Rosen's argument.  Correspondents got killed in combat in WWII.  Does this mean they should have been allowed to write anything they wanted to, even if it killed U.S. soldiers?  Rosen himself quotes Dean Esmay, who flays the MSM alive:
      You want to know what a decent and patriotic press corps would look like to a lot of us?  All you have to do is go back to old newspaper archives published in the 1940s or 1950s, during World War II or the Korean conflict.  While these newspapers published bad news every day--casualty lists, lists of the midding and dead, ships sunk, battles that went poorly, etc.--they did not pretend to be "equally skeptical" of Hitler and Roosevelt, of MacArthur and Yamamoto.  When we had a victory it was as clear that they were as elated as the man in the street.  Good news was trumpeted in big headlines on the front page.

      Back then, no one would have thought a journalist patriotic who said he didn't care if his reporting hindered the war effort and got our servicemen killed.  But as far as Rosen is concerned, if you're “unmoved” by the deaths of journalists, you have “no moral credibility”, and you're “a moral idiot”.

      By this time, I couldn't help noticing that no one in the discussion seemed to actually know much of anything about the subject of media people killed in Iraq.  This impression was reinforced when “moral idiot” ‘ed’ asked
      What is their definition of "journalist"? Does it include local stringers who have extremely strong ties to local terrorists?
and Rosen answered:
      I don't know what the breakdown is in the death figures, but I am pretty sure it can be found at the www.cpj.org site.

      Apparently, to have moral credibility in Mr. Rosen's book, you don't actually have to be willing to spend any time finding out any actual facts about these brave dead journalists, like their names, how they died, or who killed them.  They're important, but not that important.  It's enough to know that they died, and therefore . . . well, I'm still not sure what's supposed to follow from that.

      But I do like facts, so I went over to CPJ, and eventually found their details for 2003, 2004, and 2005 so far.  A short web search also turned up these two stories, with figures of 75 and 85 killed respectively.  Unsurprisingly, the totals given depend on the story date.  I used the CPJ figures because they attempted a complete list, with names and details.

      The cases and figures were, well, interesting.  The summary is rather vague.  The STATS page wasn't very specific either.  But by finding the cases, copying, pasting, sorting, and counting, I came up with the drive-in totals, as Joe Bob would say.

      One guy stepped on a land mine.  It was probably Iraqi, but I'll put it down as an accident, no one to blame.

      Four journalists were killed by the Iraqi Army during the invasion (that includes Michael Kelly, whose humvee was attempting to evade enemy fire when it went into a canal and he drowned, along with a military driver).

      In seven cases, it's uncertain who killed the journalists (I include “cameraman Fred Nerac and translator Hussein Othman,” who disappeared over two years ago and haven't been seen since).  These are people caught in a crossfire, or who died without witnesses.  That's a subtotal of twelve jounalists and media employees who died in Iraq.

      Then there are eleven cases of journalists killed by U.S. and other coalition forces (Press Gazette says fourteen).  The al-Jazeera newsman, the three at the Palestine hotel, four people shot at checkpoints, two cameramen allegedly mistaken for an enemy with a rocket launcher, a reporter killed when a helicopter blew up a disabled Bradley.  The circumstances are sometimes disputed, but mostly appear accidental.  Sorry that it happened.  Added to the previous twelve, we have twenty-three deaths.

      The other forty-three CPJ lists, almost two thirds of the total, were murdered by terrorists or common criminals.  Mostly by terrorists.  People shot when “unidentified gunmen” opened fire on their car; people killed in their offices by “one or more gunmen;” a reporter killed by a car bomb “it appeared” was targeting Kurdish soldiers at a checkpoint, “not the journalists;” journalists kidnapped and found dead by the side of the road, journalists killed in ambushes, journalists among over 100 dead when truck bombs killed Kurds during a Muslim holiday, journalists killed in front of their homes.

      Most of the dead are Iraqis, killed by terrorists because they worked for the new regime, the Voice of America, the U.S. armed forces, or al-Hurriya, the Kurdish supported TV station.  (The story with the figure of 85 says the Iraqi death share is up to 62, making 73%.)

      Perhaps its just me, but the MSM seems a lot more ticked off about the reporters killed by the U.S. than the ones killed by the terrorists.  The press is just outraged at the thought that, even if journalists were killed by accident, the U.S. didn't take sufficient precautions to protect them.  The CPJ stories about media people killed by the U.S. forces tend to be much longer than the ones about the people killed by the “insurgents,” the “gunmen,” and the “militants.”  The pieces are filled with quotes and remarks disputing the U.S. versions of what happened.  The CPJ is investigating, determined to get to the bottom of things.

      But when it comes to those murdered by “gunmen”, the attitude seems to be either a shrug, or anger at the U.S. and Iraqi governments, for not protecting the reporters.

      For every reporter killed by the U.S. forces, in every case almost certainly without intending to kill journalists, four or more have been killed by the terrorists, usually because the victims were journalists friendly to the U.S.  If they're so worried about the health of their professional colleagues, the journalists of the world ought to be doing everything they can to see to it that the terrorists are rounded up or killed as soon as possible.  The “insurgents” are murdering journalists, quite deliberately, and they know it.  But instead, the MSM finds excuses for the terrorists, a word they can't even bring themselves to use, while accusing the U.S. of deliberate murder -- and when asked for evidence, the accusers refuse to answer.

      The press is outraged that anyone could think them unpatriotic, or wishing for U.S. defeat.  Yet what, besides U.S. defeat, do they think such one-sided coverage of reporters' deaths is likely to accomplish?  When the U.S. military says, ‘We're sorry, we killed one of you, it was a tragic mistake on our part,’ do you see the oh-so-patriotic-and-not-at-all-anti-military U.S. press corps saying ‘That's it, it's inconceivable that the military as an institution would deliberately kill reporters, or cover up the murder of reporters by individual soldiers.’?  No, you see them explaining that they still have questions, and demand the armed forces put satisfying them before winning the war.  And move protecting the press to the top of the agenda.  They need to lower their risks, while reporting stories likely to undermine the chance of victory.

      Nope, the question of who killed whom, and why, isn't nearly as interesting as the fact that U.S. personnel “defiled” the Koran three times deliberately, possibly four, and once accidentally.

      Rosen is, in many ways, the best the press has to offer.  PressThink is the finest media blog I've encountered, and most of Rosen's post is up to his usual, very high standards.  But question the press's patriotism, and he says you're a swine.

      Well, I question.  If that condemns me, so be it.



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