Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Who is a journalist?

A Washington Post story about information warfare in Iraq mentions Bill Roggio. The WP article said:

Retired soldier Bill Roggio was a computer technician living in New Jersey less than two months ago when a Marine officer half a world away made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Frustrated by the coverage they were receiving from the news media, the Marines invited Roggio, 35, who writes a popular Web log about the military called The Fourth Rail ... to come cover the war from the front lines. ... He raised more than $30,000 from his online readers to pay for airfare, technical equipment and body armor ... Scrutiny of what the Pentagon calls information operations heightened late last month, when news reports revealed that the U.S. military was paying Iraqi journalists and news organizations to publish favorable stories written by soldiers, sometimes without disclosing the military's role in producing them. ... Roggio could not be issued media credentials unless he was affiliated with an organization, the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning research organization in Washington, offered him an affiliation, according to an entry on Roggio's blog"

The article occasioned a lot of commentary in the blogosphere. Blogger Scout Prime says "Blogging isn't journalism. I am not a journalist. Though I have many problems with journalism today in America I certainly do not advocate substituting the function of the press with blogging and certainly not propaganda blogging brought to you by the military and the American Enterprise Institute." Matt at Blackfive says: hold on, there were journalists before there were newspapers, except that formerly recollections took longer to publish. "In the past, the experiences of war have produced poetry and novels and memoirs. ... In real time, on the Internet, officers and enlisted men and women are chronicling the war on weblogs". Others are not convinced. A poster at Livejournal says bloggers are government propagandists and should be identified as such. "One needs to ask who supplied the $30 k for Mr. Roggio's trip. Such a payment could be hidden monetary support for the Bush administration as Roggio's are manly but syrupy sweet paeans to the wonderful war in Iraq effort." Michael Yon, himself the subject of the Washington Post story, faces the issue of propaganda squarely and asks readers to compare a photoessay on the Iraqi elections prepared by an unattributed source which he had posted on his site and a photoessay prepared by MSNBC and asks, what the difference is between the two in terms of accuracy of content and presentation? He argues that both relate true events and are crafted for effect. If the flag of legitimacy does not fly from within the internal construction of the photoessays themselves, where is it grounded?


I think Ranting Profs comes close to the essential issue when observing: "Finally, there's a recognition that the enemy is engaged in information operations, that there needs to be some critical reflection regarding what they do and how they do it, that there's a strategy underlying their behavior. On the other hand, that's treated with equivalence to information ops American forces engage in. The difference is American forces are trying to influence the way articles are placed by, you know, influencing the way articles are placed, while the enemy are trying to influence the way articles are placed by staging events -- meaning by killing people. It ain't quite the same thing."

But the weakness of this argument is that it reduces everyone to a propagandist working for one side or the other. To avoid unfairness in dishonesty, dishonesty must become general. That renders the question of legitimacy moot, but I believe it is not. Legitimacy is rooted within an a journalistic piece itself; it is not an added on at an editorial desk in a famous building. Consider Patrick Cockburn's report on the Iraqi elections at the Independent:

Iraq is disintegrating. The first results from the parliamentary election last week show the country is dividing between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions. ... The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes of establishing a pro-Western secular democracy in a united Iraq.

It is totally irrelevant to question Mr. Cockburn's motives, intelligence or literary style. The only source of legitimacy that matters is whether Mr. Cockburn's journal of events is accurate. If Mr. Cockburn's description of Iraq as disintegrating proves true then his tidings, however unwelcome, will not be propaganda any more than reporting the sinking of the Titanic was. But by the same standard, most of Bill Roggio's work at the Fourth Rail and Threats Watch will pass muster as legitimate journalism in terms of accuracy, his lack of regular press credentials notwithstanding. Mr. Roggio has written many accounts of operations in Iraq which have not been contradicted by subsequent events. The clear mark of a propagandist is one who consistently misrepresents events, allowing for occasional errors which every human being must make. Track record matters. The reason that John Burns of the New York Times may be better regarded than Robert Fisk is because Burns has consistently proved the better observer of events. Moreover, the longer the retrospective, the better Burns looks.

The Ranting Professor correctly says that both the US and enemy sides are consciously engaged in an information war. What is overlooked, I think, is that in the battle for credibility accuracy matters. If their claims to superior accuracy were undoubted, the mainstream media can easily afford to ignore the amateurish efforts of a few soldiers and bloggers to get 'the other side of the picture' out. In terms of professional writing skill, press credentials and technical support, Mr. Roggio with his scrounged up $30,000 can hardly hope to compete with professional journalists backed by Fortune 500 companies. That he and others like him are considered a threat says more about the mainstream media than anything else.

As a child, I listened to my grandfather recall how, during the War, Japanese-controlled radio nightly reported sinking half a dozen American battleships, a score of destroyers and countless aircraft carriers -- day after day. MacArthur, they said, would never return. Then one morning in late 1944 as gramps was walking along Manila Bay he heard the strange drone of approaching aircraft. As it happened, my father (he had not yet met my mother) was walking along the outer perimeter of Nielsen Field some miles away at that same moment and saw two Zeros begin to roll down the runway in a desperate scramble to get airborne. They got a few hundred feet into the air when Hellcats came right down onto the deck and shot them both down before his astonished eyes. Bam, and they were gone. Grandpa climbed the highest building he could find and watched, amazed, as carrier aircraft sank every Japanese vessel in the harbor, until but one resisted, settled on the shallow bottom. On the fantail of that single vessel, one dogged Japanese sailor kept up a steady fire with his Hotchkiss until a naval fighter came right to the water and traded tracers with the brave Japanese sailor until he was no more. What died that day wasn't simply the shipping in the harbor; nor even the Zeros at Nielsen Field, but the credibility of every Japanese-controlled radio station. What propaganda fears above all is truth.


Bill Roggio questions some of the Washington Post's facts and responds to his critics. For example Mr. Roggio says that contrary to the Post's article, he was not accredited by the American Enterprise Institute. Nor was there anything special about the process through which he was embedded with units in Iraq, pointing out that it's a well-worn route which one of his critics was actually invited to join. He also provides details on the $30,000 he raised to fund his trip and how small the donations individually were.

Read the whole thing.


Blogger Ianso said...

FYI, I think Ranting Prof is a she, not a he. Nice post though.

- Ian

12/27/2005 03:55:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


Thanks for the catch. Have corrected.

12/27/2005 04:13:00 AM  
Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

I look for credibility and variety in what I read and watch. Here in the Philippines, my choices for news are a bit limited: local TV & newspapers, FOX news, BBC, CNN, and best of all, THE INTERNET!

I flip through the TV news to get a "feel," and THEN I get my insights from the computer. It's obvious to me, that EVERYONE-all journalists & bloggers-slant their versions of events. So, it's up to me to find the "truth." I don't pin ALL my hopes for veracity on one source.

By getting my info from lots of different sources, I figure no one person's agenda is likely to affect my overall uptake of what's going on in the world.

I'm not alone in doing this. The mainstream media doesn't like it that we common folk can't be influenced by THEIR way of seeing things anymore, unless you want to be. Baaaa Baaaaaa

Thanks to the INternet, we're NOT likely to see a mainstream media type like Walter Conkrite, aka. "the most trusted man in America", declaring defeat in the face of an overwhelming victory, no matter how much the Iraqi insurgents and knee-jerk-antiwar-folks hope for one!

12/27/2005 04:33:00 AM  
Blogger Huan said...

definitions are asigned by men, they will not limit the fluidity of reality, and they themselves are fluid. What constitute a journalist changes accross time. The value of a journalist though will remain the embedded in the veracity of his reporting.

12/27/2005 04:37:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

During the invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi Information minister stated that reports that the Americans had taken the Baghdad Airport were untrue; the Iraqis were in control of the airport and the Americans were nowhere nearby.
This statement was soon followed by a BBC reporter that said he had just been out to the airport, and sure enough, there was no sign ot the Americans.
But within an hour another BBC reporter stated that he was at the airport and the Americans were all over the place.
Subsequently we found out that a number of news organizations, among them CNN, had carefully avoided filing reports that would distress Saddam's government and had provided Iraqi officials with various gifts, among them sweet cakes and satellite phones.
Both of the BBC reporters would no doubt be described as "journalists", as would their bosses, their relative degree of competance notwithstanding.
But it would seem that, given that they affected which reports were filed, the Iraqi thugs who accepted the sweets and phones - thereby effectively acting as part of the CNN management structure - would also have to be labeled as "journalists."

12/27/2005 04:38:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

This is the most bizarre part of the Mohammedan Wars. The Opposition takes video of a dozen masked gunman runing around and claim control of Ramadi, the story runs, while patently false. No complaints.
The word leaks the the US Army may have paid for story placement, turns out to be a bad an Offense as prisoner panty raids, perhaps worse, in the eyes of many.

The Mohammedan Wars are Propaganda Wars, for the hearts and minds of the middle of the ME, as they say. SoD Rumsfeld denies Responsibility for that part of the War Effort, but says we do it poorly.
There is no Minister of Propaganda, no Secretary of Information Dissemination, just Mrs Hughes.
We do not even try, surrending the battlefield of the Mohammedan mind to Dr Z without a fight.

The AEI or the NYT, each group of writers has it's bias, as any reader could tell. The AEI is honest though, in it's very name. The Times is now hiding behind a cloak of political correctness, printing lies and false stories as it's writers continue to win awards.
When the writer becomes the story at the Times, ala Jason Blair, it is treated as an Exception, not the Rule. Mr Blair being an outstanding example of a NYTimes reporter, as well as the editing and fact checking, there.

If I had to read Mr Blair or Mr Roggio's version of an event, I'd choose Mr Roggio.
Mr Roggio served four years in the Army, I think, he did not 'retire' from it.
Obviously fact checking at the WaPo meets Mr Blair's and the NY Times's standard of Journalistic Excellence...

12/27/2005 04:39:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Alan Turing once devised a test to determine whether a computer had achieved consciousness.

"In the Turing test, a judge has conversations (via teletype) with two systems, one human, the other a machine. The conversations can be about anything, and proceed for a set period of time (e.g., an hour). If, at the end of this time, the judge cannot distinguish the machine from the human on the basis of the conversation, then Turing argued that we would have to say that the machine was intelligent."

Suppose all we had were two streams of dispatches. One by a famous journalist and another by a no-account blogger, but had no way of determining who authored which. And the only way we had to judge was by confirming the stories against events. How could we tell who the real journalist was? If we apply a version of the Turing test it would seem to me that we would get surprising results.

12/27/2005 04:48:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

"What propaganda fears most is the truth!" Wretchard the Cat

"This statement was soon followed by a BBC reporter that said he had just been out to the airport, and sure enough, there was no sign ot the Americans."

I listened to that report by BBC's Andrew Gilligan, and Gilligan's island of clear-Americanlessness was being broadcast LIVE at precisely the same time several TV stations were broadcasting the Americans ruthlessly assisting ecstatic Iraqis to pull down a statue of the hated Saddam, in downtown Baghdad!

BBC might still be listened to by a lot of people, but its credibility took a massive hit THAT day!

12/27/2005 04:59:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

At the UN, Mr Annan has denounced the reporter from the Times of London, James Bone. Claiming Mr Bone is not a serious journalist, Mr Bone has been covering the UN beat for the Times of London since 1988.
Seems Mr Bone asks the same question at every news conference, about the young Kojo Annan and the Sec General's apparent Oil for Food involvement and a particular Mercedes automobile.
Fun stuff if you are not a Kofi fan.
But the question of whether or not Mr Bone is a 'serious journalist' cannot be left to the 'subject' to decide.
In the US that is the POWER of the 1st Admendment the one that has been reserved for the People, not a self serving elite.

12/27/2005 05:00:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Forgot the link
Mr Bone at the UN
via the WSJ Online.

12/27/2005 05:02:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

If we accept that this is an information war, then it is in our best interests to trigger one of the largest possible transformations ever within the Muslim ummah, a transformation which will disempower self-seeking imams and mullahs, while requiring the previously-Muslim masses to independently investigate the truth, accept the God-given equality of the sexes, accept the One-ness of Humankind and accept the One-ness of the Lord, God Almighty.

This transformation can be triggered by little more than a public, nationally-reported dialogue on the coming of Baha'u'llah, the Glory of God, and His teachings and His world-community of followers.

This is a weapon which ONLY hurts the evil and selfish amongst us, and has a tremendous potential for good!

12/27/2005 05:12:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

You may recall some time ago we spoke of aQ operations migrating into Europe as the next Phase of their Offensive.
US News

"... These days, there are few clear victories in the battle against terrorism. Instead, the effort is increasingly coming down to a series of arrests like the ones in Spain in early December. ... The real significance, however, is that the suspects were allegedly funneling the proceeds to other Algerian militants for attacks in Afghanistan and perhaps in Europe. But investigators do not know who would have carried out the attacks. ..."

"... The bust of this alleged logistics cell follows a spate of recent arrests of Algerian militants in Spain, Italy, France, and even Canada. Authorities fear that they have unearthed only the tip of a larger network of North African militants in Europe, many of them tied to the Algeria-based Salafist Group for Call and Combat (known by its initials in French as GSPC). U.S. officials fear that these groups are becoming the new frontline troops in the al Qaeda movement. ..."

12/27/2005 05:18:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

desert rat,

The present conflict has always had a dual character. There will be two of everything, a political and a military; an ideational and a physical; an internal and external. And that is in part because there are really two enemies, each with their own reasons, bent on destroying a common enemy. But if the front lines are shifting to Europe it's because the outer challenge has been defeated. The mountain fastnesses no longer provide more safety than the legal sanctuaries we ourselves have created. And so having beckoned, they will come. Then more than ever, the question of who can legitimately keep journal, when the frontline is close to home, becomes central.

12/27/2005 05:37:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

There is a Moral Hazard in a Free Press.

Reporting on the war can be rated on a scale of Propaganda for the war -- thru balanced -- thru Propaganda against the war. The minimum US casualties occur in Public Relations for the war, the maximum in PR against the war.

I support balance, but this means more casualties than Pro-war PR. The anti-war critics don't want to face the truth about the effects of the PR against the war.

12/27/2005 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Definition of stupid: Continuation of activities proven to net negative effects or yeilding no results.

The MSM has proven itself to be an unreliable producer of the product they are attempting to peddle. To the extent that this group of amatuers have proven themselves more effective at production without claiming proffessional credentials or demanding compensation.

On further observation, the MSM appears to make no attempt to re-establish credibility with their audience. One reason for this may be that they still have many customers willing to digest their product thinking there is no alternative or willing to ingest the lies because the truth is just too hard to face.

12/27/2005 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The work itself is what makes it legitimate. The READER is the judge. Scope of readership is all important.
Mr Roggio has a much more limited audience than the WaPo.
It is interesting that Corporate donations made through advertising purchases and private donations made through subscription purchases to the tune of millions of dollars do not have an effect on the WaPo. But, somehow, $30,000 in prepaid subscription to Mr Roggio's 'free' site makes him suspect is strange thinking.

To impact ever greater numbers of folk, blogs will, as wretchard noted months ago, have to migrate to video, or be left in the backwaters of public opinion making. Acting as a fact checker, but not gatherer, for the masses.

12/27/2005 06:06:00 AM  
Blogger PhilippinesPhil said...

During the 1st Gulf War I was "in theatre" with the USAF. We had access to CNN by Oct of '90 or so, and one of our greatest sources of entertainment was watching the ridiculously ignorant newsmen ask the most dunce-like questions we could imagine. Every time Schwarzkopf or Powell or whomever, pointed at one of these idiots, we'd sit forward waiting for another "punchline." In this case, the JOKE was the question, while the answer itself was an anticlimax. The lowest ranking airman had more military savvy than these morons. It's been a long time since anyone in the US military thought much of the media talking heads, although the imbed program went a long way toward their redemption

12/27/2005 06:38:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The future looks bleak for newspapers, Knight-Ridder would be selling, but no one is buying.

It is still a very profitable business, though.

"... While Knight Ridder’s 20-some-odd regional newspapers have an estimated operating margin of 26.4%, the nine majors (not including the recently divested Detroit Free Press) are notably less efficient, with an estimated operating margin of 16.8%. And the worst of the worst are the two Philadelphia newspapers, followed by the San Jose Mercury News and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

“For instance,” the analysts wrote, “by our estimation, Knight Ridder earns less that [sic] $50 million in Philadelphia on almost $520 million in revenues. San Jose, slowly recovering from collapse of the tech bubble, currently earns less than $22 million, by our estimation, on $235 million in revenues.” The Pioneer Press, meanwhile, gets a bye of sorts because it “operates in a very competitive market with McClatchy’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.” ..."

The Union View

The above papers, Philly & San Jose are the trouble spots for K-R, only $72 Million in combined profits. In Philly, one scenario closes that paper as a 'money saving' move.

Fancy that.

12/27/2005 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger erp said...

The trouble with this propaganda war is that terrorists are being given aid and comfort by msm's negative spin. The message they're getting is that if they hang in there, Democrats will regain control of congress and the White House and our foreign policy of appeasement and UN resolutions will resume. If we presented a united front supporting Bush and the WoT, the bombing and killing would stop.

12/27/2005 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Starling said...

"A poster at Livejournal says bloggers are government propagandists and should be identified as such. "One needs to ask who supplied the $30 k for Mr. Roggio's trip. Such a payment could be hidden monetary support for the Bush administration as Roggio's are manly but syrupy sweet paeans to the wonderful war in Iraq effort."

I am proud to say that I gave Bill $400 of the $30,000 was raised for his trip to Iraq. On top of that I donated over another $400 to his blog and to the adopt-a-squad program that he sponsored earlier in the year. In no way do I consider my contributions "hidden support for the Bush administration". Rather, I consider it a case of one blogger supporting another.

The Business of America is Business

12/27/2005 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

There was no negative 'spin' during the Clinton, Bush I, Reagan or Carter years, yet the attacks continued.
It is not the fault of CNN that the Mohammedans are at war with US.
The Francofada was not the fault of French TV. Nor the London Metro Bombing to be blamed on the BBC.

12/27/2005 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

This argument about credibillity reminds me of the on-going one re who *really* wrote Shakespeare's plays -- the point of the dissenters being that no mere actor/manager could have had such a depth of understanding of the human heart nor the ability to portray "life's little play."

Shakespeare was a genius without credentials, thus those with creds will always and eternally be after him.

Bostum's book on Islam is being denigrated because he is merely a physician, how could *he* have anything scholarly or credible to say?

The gatekeepers are going to lose this one both on the field and here at home. They can't judge the players anymore, otherwise Paul Krugman would have been let go years ago because of his incredible errors in judgement and foresight.

The NYTimes has proveed its inability to judge professional journalism by the stuff it prints...and yet people continue to read its pages. CNN has proved again and again its lack of integrity. The subscription rates for the former are bottoming out, the audience for the latter is dropping.

I contributed a small amount to Bill Roggio. I admire what he's doing. Same for Michael Yon. Roggio had to raise 10,000 just for his insurance while there.

Reporting from the safety of a hotel is useless "news." Print journalism is moving on ("fluid" one commenter said) and TV journalism has always been a laugh. I'm glad we still have Walter Cronkite to prove it.

Yeah, Wretch: let's start the Turing test. I'll bet a lot of mil blogs would be on it in a minute.


12/27/2005 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger Dr. Sanity said...

Actually the definition of propaganda is: propaganda - 1 : the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
2 : ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect
. Propaganda can actually be true. What makes it propaganda is that--whether it is true or false, it is spread to deliberately help or injure a particular cause. In most wars we have waged, we have not been afraid of using this technique to help advance our cause, and we like to think (and hopefully it is true) that what we are saying is factual. But if it is said deliberately to help a cause, then it is propaganda by definition. The kind of propaganda that Wretchard is discussing is propaganda that is either a deliberate distortion of facts; or complete falsehoods spread for the same purpose. I think this is an important distinction--i.e., whether propaganda is based on truth or falsehood. Propaganda by its nature is designed to appeal to the biological instincts (fight or flight) of the persons to whom it is directed. This is either good or bad depending on the cause that is served by the propaganda; and the factual or non-factual basis of the propaganda.

Perhaps I am over-analyzing; but it seems to me to make a difference.

12/27/2005 07:16:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

But 'truth' in the information wars, the Propaganda Wars is a matter of perspective.
The 'truth' of the Koran vs the truth of US. Dr Z's truth or Mr Bush's? While there are truthful points of intersection, there are wide variance in most other areas.

The battle of the mind, for the Individual, as well as his Tribe or Culture, we leave to Hollywood.
John Wayne and Randolph Scott and Gary Cooper are all long dead.
Mr Clooney and Mr Spielberg define theAmerican message, today.

12/27/2005 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...

For myself, the most interesting difference between old and new media is that the new media signposts the difference between what they see and what they think.

Especially in print, there is no difference between fact and opinion in the MSM. Yes, a news story should have a narrative, but the new Yellow Journalism is just sickening.

Actually, I don't know how new it is. Perhaps the 12 years between Reagan and GWB just dulled everyone to it. (Except the ditto-heads, of whom I am not one)

I took a philosophy class in college that covered Kierkegaard in the first half and Derrida in the second. The only similarity I could ever find is that the first showed the foolishness of 'de omnibus duditarum est' (I butchered that); the other took the same statement to foolish lengths.

The point of that trip down memory lane is that I have become morally offended by the MSM, who purport to have the gnosis to tell me what I should know about events. These events have an objective truth. While I do not expect every report to have the perfect integrity of a God's eye view, single take of video, I'd appreciate them making some effort to acknowledge and attempt to separate the observer from the observed.

The MSM might even find that humility tastes much better when it isn't being served as humble pie.

12/27/2005 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

"One needs to ask who supplied the $30 k for Mr. Roggio's trip."

I love it when so-called liberals reveal their fascist tendencies. It must be such a drag to no longer control who is and isn't allowed to speak.

12/27/2005 08:13:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The most useful piece of Propaganda for US, in recent years was "Blackhawk Down".
It led Saddam and his minions to believe they could defeat US Force.

Perhaps this movie, this piece of propaganda, influenced his decision to stonewall the UN & US.

For them it certified as true Osama's Paper Tiger message about US. The US could be forced to withdraw, they could be killed and humiliated. They saw it with their own eyes, and watched it often, a soul satisfying favorite.

This movie, based on a factual event, provokes different views as to the moral, even the core truth of the story, based on the precepts of the viewer, all from the viewing the same story.

Was the film Blackhawk Down an influence in the Victory in Iraq, did it help create the battle space?

12/27/2005 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

The movie "Blackhawk Down" isn't propaganda, in that it was accompanied by the truth of our being unprepared (i.e. underequipped) while in Somalia, and then leaving Somalia after the "strategic" defeat that occurred.

12/27/2005 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...


Why should the press be an observer when they already know the higher truth? If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, then it's trudged by those on the Right, the Left, and everywhere in between who refuse to let the facts get in the way of the truth.

The problem is not that the MSM is guilty of this (most of us are in some area), but that they have, as you say, built a cache of belief in their objectivity and ability. Hypocrisy is almost always a mote/beam problem, so I quaver at the karmic implications of throwing down this gauntlet, but seeing any of the major MSM outlets accusing anyone of lacking objectivity or depth of knowledge is, at best, a pot/kettle moment.

12/27/2005 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

the movie, as a storyline, fits both trish's and dr sanity's definition of propaganda.

You see the truth of the story from a Naval Officer's viewpoint.
The truths you see seem self evident, and are.

But while Saddam and his sons viewed the same movie, they drew much different conclusions. The 'truth' they saw was influenced by their perception and their knowlefge base.

If the idea was to influence Saddam in a negative manner, to have him injure the institution of Iraq by misjudgement, it was a success.

Blackhawk Down was a master piece of deceptive propaganda. While seemingly strengthening Osama's paper tiger fallacy, it sent a untruthful message to it's antiUS viewers. They acted upon this truth and were defeated, soundly.

12/27/2005 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

We have not forgiven Burns for his launching of the looted museum meme-plauge.

12/27/2005 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

Your examples of Alexander Cockburn and Andrew Gilligan get right to the heart of where so many newspapers have lost the plot. When someone has been so visibly and slantedly wrong so many times, why are newspapers still employing them to write? The only answer is the editors' commitment to print political screeds instead of accurate facts.

This is why going after one journalist at a time, and hunting down phonies like Dan Rather, is the right way for the blogosphere to wield its 'Turing Test'. It's slow work, given the magnitude of the task, but progress looks like being relentless. Just like the US Navy working its way across the Pacific, the results are coming soon to a small town near you...

12/27/2005 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Backing up one's beliefs with money should be, as D.S. Starling commented, something to be proud of. I'll bet if Bill Roggio published a list of his donors it would be mostly small gifts from grateful readers of his blog.

Which reminds me: don't forget Wretchard's 'donate' button...if you pay for magazine subscriptions, why not pay for quality analysis?

I put Wretch on a par with City Journal, but they're a quarterly mag. You don't have to wait 3 months to read more Belmont Club and you can respond to the author at the moment of reading the piece.

Wish I could do that with Dalrymple, or Heather McDonald.

(BTW, take a look at Starling David Hunter's place. He left a link on his comment. Interesting fellow with a wealth of connections to good stories I haven't read elsewhere)

12/27/2005 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

I don't think that "Blackhawk Down" did send an inaccurate message, when you consider the overall U.S. response to terrorism from Carter through Clinton. Pure bad luck for bin Laden that Bush was elected.

Is it possible for something to become propaganda after the fact, if it was originally an accurate representation?

12/27/2005 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

An objective press, like lifelong employment followed by a pension, is a mid-20th century anomaly to which we quickly became accustomed and now consider a standard.

It was more likely the result of a remarkable degree of societal consensus following the second world war, just as mid-century industrial employment rested on unique econoimic conditions of the time.

The remarkable thing is to consider how, in the eras of pamphleteering and yellow journalism, a less connected and less educated populace managed to make the right choices, eventually.

Similarly remarkable is to watch today's 'free' Western media doing what state-controlled media used to do behind the Iron Curtain, and still does today in places like China.

12/27/2005 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The propaganda is in telling the tale, not in the truthfulness of it. Different audiences see different storylines, within the same story.

Blackhawk Down is a reasonably accurate rendition of the actual events. It's truths vary within the viewers, not the story.

If the movie had not been made, if Saddam & Sons had not viewed US retreat hundreds of times, would they have come to the same conclusions about US actions?

Would they have bought into the 'Paper Tiger' storyline if Sands of Iwo Jima or Patton were the films available for repeated viewing?

I believe that taking Iraq away from the Baathists was a positive thing. If Blackhawk Down help Saddam to be secure in his knowledge of the wrong truths about US, then it was masterful, whether or not that was the original intent of the filmmaker.

The Propaganda value of things should not always be taken at face value. Sometimes there is a deeper truth than a snapshot or a short story can tell.

12/27/2005 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger sbw said...

> Legitimacy is rooted within an a journalistic piece itself

"Journalist" is an accolade earned fresh each day.

That was my conclusion in April, 2004: http://blogs.rny.com/sbw/stories/storyReader$68]

12/27/2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Red River said...

Blackhawk Down was a large scale attack on US forces.

It could have been another Little Bighorn or Isandhlwana, but it was not. The Warlords suffered thousands of casualties and were incapable of stopping the orderly withdrawal of US Forces the next day.

It should have been immediately followed by a cordon and search of all of Mogadishu. We should have emptied the city of people and then searched the town from top to bottom, then searched everyone coming back in. We should have interrogated fighters and their leaders to determine what was going on.

We could have flown in the 82d and 101st ready Brigades as well as two Marine Brigades to this effect.

Gen Zinni wrote in his biography of his successes on the ground and his difficulties with the Civilian and UN leadership.

It was a failure of Civilian policymaking in that the US ran from the larger fight once it began. It was a failure of the Civilian policy makers that we went after the Warlords without a clear end goal. And it was a failure that our policies changed so often.

An on subject, there were several very tough military operations in Mogadishu that the US Press ignored that Zinni covered in his book that have also been covered in other biographies by NCOs.

One who reads the biographies can see the possbilities for the Blackhawk Down scenario at many turns - and if the press had kept abreast, then the suprise of battle would not have been a surprise.

12/27/2005 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Mannning said...

In my view, a journalist defines himself through his consistent reporting and analysis as read or seen by the public. Further, he or she develops this ability to see and report, to analyze and to portray accurately the important events in the world through steady practice and adherence to good journalistic rules. One learns to write by...writing.

The longer a blogger seriously works at his craft, and consciously develops a point of view, a voice, and a consistent philosophy, the more he is identified with good journalism, and deservedly so.

The longer he practices his craft the more likely he will develop sources from all over the world that he has found to be reliable, trustworthy and observant. Thus the blogger is able to have eyes that see, ears that hear, and minds to digent it all and transmit it to the blogger.

So the blogger doesn't have infinite funds, but he does have the internet and associates worldwide to help--if he develops these sources.

The top bloggers are indeed good journalists, and they will most probably improve over time as this media matures further.

12/27/2005 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Mannning said...

digest, not digent

12/27/2005 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Thanks to the INternet, we're NOT likely to see a mainstream media type like Walter Conkrite, aka. "the most trusted man in America", declaring defeat in the face of an overwhelming victory."
Several callers to Bill Bennet's Show thought the
"story of the year"
was that the public really got it that the MSM OFTEN plays with the truth.
Works for me, hope it's true.

12/27/2005 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...


How nice of you to condescend to put Wretchard (and those agreeing with him) above "most people". That tone is the problem. The idea that 'most people are idiots who need to be led around by the nose' is exactly what is being disproved by the current MSM v blogs fight.

I don't mean to flame you here. You are right about the media being a for profit business. But since the network news and CNN have been hemhorraging viewers, they ain't exactly following the money. Also, I don't mind people who turn a buck - until they start to tell me about how above money they are. Like Dan Rather would've been reading the news for 30 years on a teacher's salary. Please.

The MSM is like American car companies in the '70s. Whistling in the dark past tougher competition and better technology is not a way to make a profit.

12/27/2005 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger Brett L said...

Bill Roggio has responded to the Washington Post article on Threats Watch.

Link here.

12/27/2005 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Brett L said...


Point taken and well said. That's my karma for the earlier pot/kettle posting. *sigh* It always happens.

12/27/2005 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

I've always found it strange that the soundtrack theme from Blackhawk Down is a vocal, sung in Breton, entitled "Gortoz A Ran". It's a language related to Welsh. And the lyrics, resonant of its roots, have an elvish air. The translation partly goes:

I was waiting, waiting for a long time
In the dark shadow of grey towers
You will see me waiting forever
One day it will come back
Over the seas, over the lands
To breathe my wounded heart
I will be pulled away by its blow
Far away by its stream to another land
Wherever it wants, far away from this world
Between the sea and the stars

The most enduring martial music of the West, whether the "Girl She Left Behind Me" or "Danny Boy" or the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" has always had this mystical quality. I would have taken warning from Blackhawk Down if I were Osama and listening carefully.

12/27/2005 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Fred Kleindenst said...

Another beautiful and inspiring post.

OT: Please go to littlegreenfootballs.com and nominate wretchard for anti-idiotarian of the year. I did.


I think that those that want to criticise bloggers (or others) as illegitimate are most likely to be protecting their own elevated position as journalists. I'm sure that the critics have worked very hard going to j school, and working their way through the journalistic beaurcracy to get to their current lofty position. The idea that a computer technician could begin writing and recieve not just an audience but critical acclaim in a matter of months with virtually zero backing is an astounding, explosive blast to their world view.

I'd also like to make another point. I am a firm believer that in addition to the factual content in "the news" there is always an editorial slant. This is composed of the the word choice, the emphasis, and what is covered or not. It is perfectly possible to have the MSM give 100% factual coverage that delivers a message that is negative to US interests. I think that the MSM tends to be reporting accurately, but doing so in a way that slights the President's goals in the GWOT.

It is also possible for the US gov't, a corporation or other group to fund an alternate set of journalists to report 100% accurate information that is positive to US interests. We see this in some blogs.

I do not see a problem with interested parties funding journalists to produce a story framed to their liking. These journalists' credibility will be determined by the accuracy of the content of their stories.

My Blog:
Political Fred

12/27/2005 12:52:00 PM  
Blogger Harrywr2 said...

I supplied a small piece of Mr Roggio's 30K.

A subscription to the Seattle Times costs a couple of hundred dollars a year, I can get a watered down version of the Seattle Times at the Democratic Underground for free.(The Seattle Times lost me when they ran a front page story on the "draft" that the political progandists at the DNC were pushing)

Bill has served in the military, he understands it's structure and how it works. Being in the computer field, he understands that "bugs" are a normal part of any human endeavor.

Yep, I spent my Seattle Times subscription money to send Roggio to Iraq.

It was money well spent.

12/27/2005 12:59:00 PM  
Blogger ex-democrat said...

wretchard - mystical like the more recent song 'Sgt Mackenzie' featured in the movie 'When We Were Soldiers.
And your comment about taking the wrong message from combat put me in mind of the outtake from that movie which featured a post-battle meeting between Hal Moore and SecDef MacNamara. Macnamara thought the US battle success against vastly greater numbers showed that the US could win with ease in Vietnam. Moore had a very different take-away - having seen up close his enemy's willingness to sacrifice all for the cause.
I think we've learned to listen to our warriors now.

12/27/2005 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger erp said...

ratbert, I didn't say, nor do I believe, that CNN. BBC or any other media caused the WoT. What I believe is the anti-war, hate-Bush rhetoric on the left is giving terrorists hope that if they just continue the killing, we'll cut and run like we did in Vietnam, and if that doesn't happen, there's the hope that voters will come to their senses and elect Democrats in '06 and '08.

Your comparison to Carter, Bush pere and Clinton doesn't hold up. The terrorist activity during their presidencies was answered by Carter and Clinton with apologies and deference to the U.N. and Bush's war, Desert Storm, wasn't waged to win a decisive victory for various reasons of Cold War politics.

12/27/2005 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

For once, a truly great editorial at the Times:
Unwarranted Complaints

The only thing outrageous about President Bush's plan to collect foreign intelligence is the outrage itself.
The contretemps its revelation has caused reveals much more about the chattering classes' fundamental antipathy to strong government in general, and strong executive power in particular, than it does about presidential overreaching.

The Constitution's framers did not vest absolute power in any branch of the federal government, including the courts, but they did create a strong executive and equipped the office with sufficient authority to act energetically to defend the national interest in wartime.

That is what President Bush has done, and nothing more.

12/27/2005 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

And where, erp, will the decisive battle in the current President Bush's War be fought, or when?

The enemies of the West, the Mohammedans operating in the Mid East, Europe and Asia, along with the Communists in South America do not need encouragement from US. From neither the Left or the Right.
The Mohammedan Wars have been ongoing for decades, they gave Mr Reagan his worst beating, ever.
But it was only with the assistance of the KSA he was able to prevail in the Cold War, so the retreat from Beirut could be rationalized, so though could the other retreats, from the KSA & Somolia.

The Mohammedan Wars are not caused by Mr Bush's internal political nor media opponents. They are caused by the Mohammedan Religion and it's call to conquest.

That is the story line of the Mohammedans, answering allah's call to service, to rid the world of those that do not submit.

Holding US Foreign Policy & Military hostage with a few thousand men aiding an Insurgent force fighting a Civil War.

Building a network of Algerians in Europe, compartmentalized in a cell structure that makes rolling 'em up dificult, at best.

Destabilizing the Palistinian Authority and making a negotiated peace with Israel impossible.

Continued attacks by 'tribesmen' against the Army in Pakistan.

At least the Genocide is almost over in Darfur, not many more blacks for the Mohammedan Militias left to kill.

All of these actions by the Mohammedans you attribute to the NYT and Dan Rather?

The riots on a Syndey beach?

The challenge is so much larger than the relationship between the MSM and Mr Bush.

The question of who can 'legitimately' cover the events is ultimately define by the scope of the story. Whether the reporting is accurate may well depend on the audience's perspective.

12/27/2005 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger dirty dingus said...

At my blog I have drawn some comparisons between the Wapo's criticism of Bill Roggio and the standard FUD we see all the time in the world of high tech sales / marketing

12/27/2005 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


There's a deep strain of pagan mysticism in the West, an indigenous religious outlook. In that respect the ancient West, like the East, looked to the numinous, though their symbolism was different. Tolkien and CS Lewis supercharged their messages by wrapping it in within the pagan religious traditions. One of the most moving and curiously unremarked religious scenes in modern film history was at the close of the Gladiator, when the fallen hero is reunited with his family in Elysium. There's not a dry eye in the theater and not a squeal from the politically correct.

Nineteenth century atheism is a thin layer struggling to keep down the deepest longings of mankind. Whether on an ancient Aryan battlefield, beneath a Bo Tree, on a night of revelation, upon a gentle Galilean hillside or by a stormy sea in dark fjords, people hear whispers that can't be silenced -- at least not forever. I suppose I should quote Tolkien on that subject, though it's OT.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring.
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

12/27/2005 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Derek Kite said...

As the invasion of Iraq proceeded, the first day, CBC had a reporter at an airport in England breathlessly describing how badly things must be going because he saw B-52's taking off.

The journalist was going by what he knew, ie. reading how B-52's had carpet bombed Hanoi. Later one of the journalists kept asking about the lines of refugees, there must be millions of them and refused to accept that their weren't, or were very few.

This after watching the precision bombing in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and all the reports about the cheap smart bombs that the Americans had developed.

I think there is a purposeful avoidance of reality in this conflict. So much of what has happened has fundmentally challenged the comfortable common wisdom. It is almost as if everyone hopes that the insurgents win.

I have a question. What is there about an victorious US military in Iraq that is so threatening to people? It is more than Democrats vs Republicans because I hear the same thing here in Canada.

12/27/2005 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger Derek Kite said...

Another question:

Remember the marine that shot the fellow in Falujah? It was recorded on film and shown over and over here and in the middle east.

I remember the bitter comments on this forum.

Looking back, could it be that the reporting of that event was a propaganda coup for the US forces?

I brought this up to illustrate that reporting of events accurately has more power than forgettable attempts at spin. In a year, will the two authors gripes be remembered, or what Bill Roggio wrote?

12/27/2005 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger erp said...

ratbert, I said "decisive victory," not decisive battle.

12/27/2005 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Decisive victory, where or when, against whom?
Whose metric of Victory shall we be using?
Will Victory be decisive or complete, both perhaps?
Which General decides when the US has won the Battle of Iraq?
Why has the President abdicated that Responsibility? or has he, really?

the questions stand.

Who will sign the surrender documents for the enemy?

In Sudan, Yemen, Iran and Iraq. Syria, Ethiopia, Somolia, Egypt, France, Holland, Denmark, Bosnia, Bali, Thailand, Philipines, Australia, Pakistan and Afghanistan who speaks for the Enemy?
Who is the 12th Imam?
Who is the Mahdi?
Who speaks for Mohammed?

That is a story that needs a legitimate report. From a blogger or reporter, paid for or not.

To finish, decisively, the Mohammedan Wars by January 2009, now that would really be something to see, Mr Bush closing out the Mohammedans after more than 25 years of conflict with US.
Guess we'll have Osama and Dr Z by then, they are part of the decisive victory metric, aren't they?

12/27/2005 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

We're back to shit and sticking things up people's asses.
Good to know.

12/27/2005 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Let us also realize that it is not just what is presented that is propaganda, but how it is presented and analyzed.

As Wretchard described, the Japanese media published only reports of nonexistant victories during WWII, and no one seemed to as much as wonder out loud such thoughts as where the aircraft carriers Kaga, Akagi, Hiru, Soryu, and were after June of 1942.

But when the first B-29's appeared over Japan the jig was up. Or was it? The mere presence of enemy aircraft over the homeland should have spoken volumes to the most uniformed observer, but bombing accuracy at first was poor, and the official line became "The BeJuNiKi's can't hit anything. Eventually the Americans will tire of this expensive form of recreation and give up. Not even the United States can afford to fly such huge airplanes thousands of miles to ne useful effect."
And when a B-29 fire raid burned down much of Tokyo one night, all the main English language newspaper in Japan could say was "Those Devils! Those Devils!"

Saying "Iraq is disintegrating" is as much propaganda as "There are no Americans at the airport."

Who's paying Bill Roggio? The question should be "Who is really paying Patrick Cockburn?"

12/27/2005 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Those rectal thermometers come in handy. Let's 'em know when the heat is on!
The new digital ones beep, or so I'm told.

12/27/2005 05:11:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I thought that was the Roadrunner.

12/27/2005 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

You mean the Plymouth Road Runner, with the 440 or the Coyote's prey, beep beep!

Either one is larger than an Acme thermometer.

12/27/2005 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Starling said...

“News industry workers are trained to observe and report on major events, but in today's brave new information world, we're making news and shaping a revolution ourselves.”

Those words come from none other than Linda Foley, president of The News Guild. You may recall that she made a name for herself earlier this year by making the unfounded claim that the US military was intentionally targeting reporters in Iraq.

My read is that her desire to "make the news", rather than merely report it, is motivated in equal measure by an overgrown sense of self-importance and by not knowing where to draw the line between advocacy and reporting. I discussed these matters more fully in two posts, one entitled
War Journalist Action Figures
and the other entitled
What Conflict of Interest?


12/27/2005 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

When J. School aspirants are asked why they are pursuing this line of work, they rarely state that they are interested in covering a story and reporting the news.

Most frequently they report that they
"want to make a difference."
ie further whatever agenda they believe is in the best interest of others.

Reminiscent of the desire to spend other people's money to better the world, they want to "assist" others in coming to the proper conclusions.

12/27/2005 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

They do not fight for their own benefits...
They do not fight for their countries...
They do not fight for their people...
They do not fight on their homelands...

Yet they risk their lives using sophisticated and rugged yet non-lethal equipment gathering images and information on the truth, on the historic moments and on the brutal reality.

We dedicate this series / action figure to the daring unsung hero at the battlefront and the many more who has lost their lives for the honorable cause.

It is not even their war...

12/27/2005 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

but john
The Mayor of NO supplied the 10,000 dead, it was not pulled out of the air by a reporter.

The fellow from FOX reported what he was seeing, but he was seeing only the most local of scenes. His reporting though accurate was flawed, I thought, by the very locality of it. There was no over view.

The Super Dome was a disaster, whom was to blame and why, those were stories untold or spun to be sure, but the chaos was real.

Mike Brown was unqualified for the job.

12/27/2005 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Starling links L'Ombre de l'Olivier , on Roggio, FUD, and the MSM.

12/27/2005 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Mike Brown was unqualified for the job"
He also outlined, months in advance, the problems that would be caused by restructuring FEMA to fit into the new Dept of Homeland Security Nightmare.
...it is not the only area that has been DEGRADED by this massive and obscenely expensive rearrangement of the deck chairs.

12/27/2005 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

Wretchard and Wizard--

The nexus of your argument got me to thinking. I wasn't planning to blog on it -- I had something else in mind entirely -- but that's the risk in joining the comments, hmmm?

Pilate's Question Never Goes Away

Thanks to both of you for the jump start, though I don't know that either of you would agree with my conclusions, tentative as they are.

12/27/2005 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Clinton did not "give" America a great economy. The upturn started the summer before the election, and the downturn before the Gore-Bush election.

And Israel-Palestine was nowhere close to being solved. Have you forgotten when the intifada started?

Or was the CLinton part of that post intended as sarcasm?

12/27/2005 06:54:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Yeah, but France was SAYING they were on our side.

12/27/2005 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

doug, Mr Brown is, was an expert in CYA politics. On that point I'd agree, whole heartedly.

But was he a legitimate Civil Servant?

The Homeland Defense Dept is just another example of the lack of seriousness to this entire War on Islamists of certain but undefinable traits. That some times, but not always, makes a Mohammedan Terrorist an Enemy of US.

12/27/2005 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

It's easy to lie once, but extending the original lie gets progressively harder and finally becomes impossible. Clever propaganda resembles a seemingly plausible but false theory, like the notion of a flat earth or concencentric spheres in the heavens. But every new counterfactual that comes along must be accomodated by a patch until finally the lie -- the propaganda -- becomes unworkably complex. Since this process is doomed to fail without assistance, propagandists require the services of a Memory Hole into which intractable counterfactuals can simply be expunged.

A non-propagandist, on the other hand, is not wedded to a preconceived narrative. If he is wrong he admits it. It takes far less energy to simply describe events rather than to make them appear to conform to false events created earlier.

12/27/2005 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger Karridine said...

'Rat: "Who is the 12th Imam?
Who is the Mahdi?
Who speaks for Mohammed?

That is a story that needs a legitimate report. From a blogger or reporter, paid for or not."

And when THIS happens, dozens of processes will suddenly lurch sideways, changing our world in a startling and essentially unforeseen way (shouted out by a few souls, but ignored in the main until it happens).

12/27/2005 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger rhhardin said...

Journalist comes from the same root as diurnal, daily; and as diarist, which is more or less what a blogger would be called if it weren't for coining words.

The chief usage distinction is that a journalist does it for money.

They both write on the day, as to both topic and rate.

I suppose you can cross from one to the other without disturbing much but an imagined distinction, and you may not notice it even yourself.

There's always a reward for finding the right words for something, which happens more in blogs because there are more of them. The words wind up then as permanent and true.

I don't know that the predictions themselves are remembered or cared about later. You have the reality then, or at least which stories will survive for whatever reason.

12/28/2005 01:56:00 AM  
Blogger Starling said...

Doug said...

"... J. School aspirants ... rarely state that they are interested in covering a story and reporting the news."

Although hanging around B-schools the last 15 years didn't give me much opportunity to chat with J-school aspirants, I don't doubt what you say for a moment. In fact, it would seem that many don't read or don't care about their future employer's codes of journalists ethics.

Here are few excerpts:

New York Times

Journalists have no place on the playing fields of politics. Staff members are entitled to vote, but they must do nothing that might raise questions about their professional neutrality or that of The Times. In particular, they may not campaign for, demonstrate for, or endorse candidates, ballot causes or efforts to enact legislation. They may not wear campaign buttons or themselves display any other insignia of partisan politics. They should recognize that a bumper sticker on the family car or a campaign sign on the lawn may be misread as theirs, no matter who in their household actually placed the sticker or the sign. (p. 22)

Staff members may not march or rally in support of public causes or movements, sign ads taking a position on public issues, or lend their name to campaigns, benefit dinners or similar events if doing so might reasonably raise doubts about their ability or The Times’s ability to function as neutral observers in covering the news. (p. 23)

Hearst Newspapers

While we encourage all of our employees to be good public as well as private citizens, employees should avoid any active involvement in partisan politics. Employees should also avoid active involvement in community issues or organizations to the extent that their participation might cause the paper's objectivity to come into question.

EW Scripps

Journalists and others working in newsrooms must abide by a more restrictive standard, given the disinterested neutrality from which news organizations must work. They must not serve in elected or politically appointed positions. They must not participate in political fund-raising, political organizing, nor other activities designed to enhance a candidate, a political party or a political-interest organization. They must not make contributions of record to political campaigns nor engage in other such activity that might associate an employee's name with a political candidate or a political cause.

Knight Ridder

Knight Ridder employees, as private individuals, are free to contribute to and work for political parties, causes or candidates and to participate in debate on issues of the day. But it is very important to avoid situations that might raise a perception of bias in the context of newspapers' or other news-gathering units' responsibilities to report and comment upon such activities. This sensitivity is most obvious, of course, in the case of news and editorial employees and those with responsibility for those functions within a newspaper or other news organization.

In my opinion, these codes of ethics are not being routinely followed or enforced, at least not with regard to matters of national importance.

But then again, when an organization like the NewsGuild gives an award every year in honor of a man like Heywood Broun, I should expect that "making a difference", rather striving for objectivity, is the watchword for said aspirants.


12/28/2005 02:40:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

CBS and NYT conflict of interest policy violations

Dinocrat.com reprints the Viacom and New York Times Company ethics policies, and demonstrates how both have violated their own policies by non-disclosure of conflicts of interest in major stories
- American Thinker

12/28/2005 03:12:00 AM  
Blogger ledger said...

As Dymphna has stress the MSM has lost credibility. I no longer consume their material because it appears to be horribly bias. I would rather spend my time reading Bill Roggio's dispatches than the WoPo's (or the AP's for that matter).

Now, I have had a class in crafting a "press releases" and I learned that press can be bought and sold like any other commodity. You just have to just have to use the right currency.

As RWE points out CNN was in Saddam's hip pocket and spread propaganda for him. Mr. Roggio also notes an outright confession from CNN.
CNN's Access of Evil

Carridine indicates that the BBC is just about as bad. I agree. I believe the same goes for Reuters.

Mr Roggio highlights the "stringer" problem where enemies are hired by MSM organization in place of their own people on the ground reporting.

[CBS stringer caught with tapes]

A CBS stringer has been arrested as a suspected insurgent, U.S. military officials said Friday.
One official said at least four videos in the man's camera show roadside bomb attacks on U.S. troops.

All had been shot in a manner that suggested the cameraman had prior knowledge of the attacks and had scouted a shooting location in sight of the target.
"The individual in question was carrying press credentials from CBS News... the network said the man was referred to the network by a "fixer" in Tikrit "who has had a trusted relationship with CBS News for two years."

See: Stringer with tapes of ambush

Wretchard's Haifa street series highlights the same stringer problem:

Haifa street execution

See: Odds Against AP

See Powerline, Murder on Haifa Street: An Update

FEE wrote: The controversy over the NSA wiretaps--"Spying on Americans!"--strikes me as a case of the Times trying to shape popular perceptions in the hope that reality will follow.

Yes, it is. But, I think it's more self-serving than that. Now that we are more knowledgeable about the Patriot Act and the NSA's wide ranging roving wire taps and "Able Danger" data mining techniques there is a reason for the MSM to be very concerned.

With the MSM having contacts with shady "stringers" and "fixers" it's not hard to imagine that the Fed's have an interest in their overseas call's.

For example how does one attribute prosecutor Fitzgerald knowing that NYT reporters Philip Shenon and Judith Miller tipped-off suspected Terror charity Global Relief Foundation just before a Fed raid on December 14, 2001? Certainly, NYT reporters Shenon and Miller would not reveal that to the Fed's and surely NYT reporters Shenon and Miller were well protected with NYT lawyers.

One would guess that Feds had the suspected Terror Charity under surveillance and NYT reporters Shenon and Miller called the suspected Terror Charity and their conversation was recorded. Now, the fact that they were quickly discovered means MSM reporters are now going to have to be vary careful who they contact on the dark side of the war. That would also go for CNN, cBS, BBC, Reuters, and others.

Further, because of the new sweeping technology, boarder-line MSM reporters would be an interesting target to monitor.

I suspect that the MSM has figured that out. Hence, they are trying to scuttle the NSA program and the Patriot Act.

Let looks at some facts:

[initial story implicating NYT reporters tipping-off Global Relief Foundation]:

The stunning accusation was disclosed yesterday in legal papers related to a lawsuit the Times filed in Manhattan federal court. The suit seeks to block subpoenas from the Justice Department for phone records of two of its Middle Eastern reporters — Philip Shenon and Judith Miller — as part of a probe to track down the leak. The Times last night flatly denied the allegation.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago charged in court papers that Shenon blew the cover on the Dec. 14, 2001, raid of the Global Relief Foundation — the first charges of their kind under broad new investigatory powers given to the feds under the Patriot Act. "It has been conclusively established that Global Relief Foundation learned of the search from reporter Philip Shenon of The New York Times," Fitzgerald said in an Aug. 7, 2002, letter to the Times' legal department.

See: NYT reporters tipped off Terror charity

Here is more on Miller's trouble with the feds and the Muslim charity:

[NY lawyer to Power Line]:

...U.S.D.J. Robert Sweet (S.D.N.Y.) denied Fitzpatrick's motion to compel Miller to testify before a grand jury relating to a leak to Miller about a warrant issued to the FBI for a search of a New York Muslim charity's offices. A source leaked this information to Miller, who, incredibly, promptly contacted the Muslim charity and revealed the warrant prior to the search. Fortunately, no FBI agents were injured when they searched the offices the next day, in what clearly could have developed into a very dangerous situation... District Judge Sweet... denied the prosecutor's motion to compel Miller's testimony about this incident... Miller stated that she was contacting the charity to get its comments about an article she planned to write after the search had been conducted. In doing so, of course, she divulged the existence of the warrant and created a situation where the office could have been booby-trapped, or at a minimum crucial evidence destroyed or removed. As an attorney, I found the facts of this case and Judge Sweet's reasoning so disturbing that I continue to be shocked, months later, that this incident hasn't received more public comment...

NYT v Gonzales

[The judge in the case notes]:

"...The telephone records at issue, held by and unidentified third-party telephone company or companies, are being sought by the government as part of an investigation to uncover who purportedly "leaked" information to Miller and Shenon relating to the government's plans to block the assets and search the office of the two Islamic charity organization in the fall of 2001...

See: post #197 50% down thread.

See Update 25% down thread

see: page 7 of Judge Sweet's decision NYT v Gonzales

[As I wrote an another post]:

The real issue is why the NYT's reporters are blowing so much smoke over NSA and the Patriot Act. NYT's motives maybe more self-serving and more hazardous than they appear on the surface. It's possible that the NYT is actively seeking interviews with terrorists (and/or aiding them).

Hence, the NYT and their operatives cannot afford to have NSA surveillance and Patriot Act in place...The NYT is doing it's best to derail the Patriot Act to keep it's to keep it's secrets buried.

see Belmont Club Tightrope 12/20/05 10% down thread

12/28/2005 03:16:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Heywood Broun
Broun campaigned for the release of Tom Mooney and the Scottsboro Nine. However, his main preoccupation was with what he believed was the injustice of the conviction of Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco. When the editor of the New York World refused to print his articles on the case, he resigned with the comment "that I am too ill-disciplined, too indiscreet to fit pleasantly into the World's philosophy." In 1930 Broun ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a socialist. Three years later Broun was expelled from the Socialist Party after appearing with members of the Communist Party at a rally demanding the release of Tom Mooney and the Scottsboro Nine.
Broun helped establish the American Newspaper Guild in 1933 and was elected its first president.
As well as writing for several newspapers Broun was a regular contributor to the journals, The Nation and The New Republic.

12/28/2005 03:21:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Inside the Media Bubble
It’s not just Murtha, but the media themselves who are feeling un-consulted.
One of the things know-it-all reporters like to do is advise the powerful.
A politician can attract good press by taking his press corps and pretending to make them his corps of advisers, noodling over their grand ideas for governance.
Look no further than John McCain.
Back in 1999, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter professed love for McCain because he returned calls:
"Reporters can be bought cheap with a little cooperation when we need it.
For years, McCain has reliably returned press calls with a candid line or two."

McCain indulged their pushy adviser impulses, as Slate’s Jacob Weisberg praised McCain’s willingness to listen to his school-voucher ideas:
“When McCain flatters you, it doesn't feel automatic or calculated. He truly likes us journalists.” In the end, however, all it got McCain was loving articles.

12/28/2005 03:58:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Big John is still in the game, doug.
There is still a chance he'll take his carpetbag to the White House.

12/28/2005 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger Faeroe said...

I am in the middle of The Last Lion, Vol. 1 right now, so the non-issue of paying someone to go report is ironic. Churchill demanded lots of money and expenses to go report on the Boer War, as well as financing numerous trips and tours to other places through the aarticles he promised to write on them.

12/28/2005 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

And from what I hear, he usually managed to get it written, at least by somebody!

12/28/2005 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Gene Felder said...

Main stream media is too much. Did you see on Christmas Day, “Meet the Press” Reports Hurricane Katrina Super Dome Deaths as True.

Tim Russert on Meet the Press re-played a video, a small bit of the misinformation the media reported regarding Hurricane Katrina.

Unbelievably, he and two other giants of media, Tom Brokaw and Ted Koppel, spoke as if it was true and said nothing about its gross inaccuracies. See http://felderlaguna.blogspot.com/2005/12/on-christmas-day-meet-press-reports.html

See Meet the Press Transcript for December 25, 2005 at http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10531436.

Gene Felder
Views From Laguna

12/28/2005 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger Indigo Red said...

A journalist is one who writes a journal. A reporter is one who reports. Our modern understanding of the two words as being related to newspapers, radio, and television is an unnecessary pidgeonholing of information and the gatherers.

The understanding that repoprters are unbiased observers and disseminators of truth is a falsehood. There is no such thing as an unbiased report or reporter. Everyone has a point of view. The very act of choosing the story is an act of bias and discrimination.

Bill Roggio writes a blog, a journal. He is a journalist. Bill tells us things we didn't know before - he reports information. Bill Roggio is a reporter.

12/29/2005 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Mannning said...

OK, the easy bias to identify is hate for Bush. But it goes far deeper that that, IMO. What the MSM and the Left hate is the rising dominance of conservative and Republican political ideas and power, the people in the Red States, and the diminishing Blue city power.

Bush is the immediate target, but the longer range is, of course, to derail the 2006 elections in favor of the Left, and to capture the 2008 election by a Leftist candidate (read Hillary, leftwing ideologue).

Thus, beyond what few seemingly correct rules that the newspapers put on the wall, or even hand out, it is done with a very obvious wink.

A wink that says slant anything Bush or Republican negatively, and anything Hillary, Progressive or Democratic positively. And if you don't do it, two things will happen: we, the editors will put the right slant on your pieces, and, you will have a short career here, unless you shape up and become creatively negative to Repubs, and positive to Progs.
Get with the agenda or get out!

12/30/2005 12:11:00 PM  

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