The unbridgeable chasm between the MSM and reality

Zabrina, who blogs at Thought You’d Never Ask, used my anatomy of the faux Rush Limbaugh scandal to give us the heads up about Michael Yon’s most recent post, Resistance is Futile. It’s a fabulous post, truly fabulous, and the sole reference to it at my blog does not deserve to be buried in a comments section, but should be trumpeted up here, in the main area.

The resistance to which Yon refers is not to some Borg-like al Qaeda/insurgent movement that will inevitably engulf the Americans. (Although, if you’re a Next Generation fan, as I was, you know that the Borg’s lost!) Nope. He’s talking about the gaping, enormous, valle-like chasm between the stories the MSM spins about Iraq, and the reality on the ground:

I was at home in the United States just one day before the magnitude hit me like vertigo: America seems to be under a glass dome which allows few hard facts from the field to filter in unless they are attached to a string of false assumptions. Considering that my trip home coincided with General Petraeus’ testimony before the US Congress, when media interest in the war was (I’m told) unusually concentrated, it’s a wonder my eardrums didn’t burst on the trip back to Iraq. In places like Singapore, Indonesia, and Britain people hardly seemed to notice that success is being achieved in Iraq, while in the United States, Britney was competing for airtime with O.J. in one of the saddest sideshows on Earth.

No thinking person would look at last year’s weather reports to judge whether it will rain today, yet we do something similar with Iraq news. The situation in Iraq has drastically changed, but the inertia of bad news leaves many convinced that the mission has failed beyond recovery, that all Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, or are waiting for us to leave so they can crush their neighbors. This view allows our soldiers two possible roles: either “victim caught in the crossfire” or “referee between warring parties.” Neither, rightly, is tolerable to the American or British public.

Today I am in Iraq, back in a war of such strategic consequence that it will affect generations yet unborn—whether or not they want it to. Hiding under the covers will not work, because whether it is good news or bad, whether it is true or untrue, once information is widely circulated, it has such formidable inertia that public opinion seems impervious to the corrective balm of simple and clear facts.

Yon acknowledges that the military made mistakes in handling the media, that being a reporter in Iraq could be quite dangerous (note the past tense I use), and that the situation was, in fact, bad.  BUT

But it wasn’t until I spent that week back in the States that I realized how bad things have gotten. I believe we are witnessing a conspiracy of coincidences conflating to exert an incomprehensibly destructive force on the free press system that we largely take for granted. The fact that the week in question also happened to be when General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker were delivering their reports to Congress makes me wonder if things are actually worse than I’ve assessed, and I returned to Iraq sadly convinced that General Petraeus now has to deal from a deck clearly stacked against him in both America and Iraq.

Clearly, a majority of Americans believe the current set of outdated fallacies passed around mainstream media like watered down drinks at happy hour. Why wouldn’t they? The cloned copy they get comes from the same sources that list the specials at the local grocery store, and the hours and locations of polling places for town elections. These same news sources print obituaries and birth announcements, give play-by-play for local high school sports, and chronicle all the painful details of the latest celebrity to fall from grace.

You really should read Yon’s article in its entirety. Then, if you have a blog, blog about it. If you don’t, email it to your friends. As Yon says, this is world changing stuff, and the MSM doesn’t seem to have notice (or, in my opinion, refuses to notice).

2 Responses

  1. Thanks, Bookworm! I had to go out and “do stuff” all this morning, and regretted I couldn’t blog about this juxtaposition: you have done it better justice than I could have.

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