You've probably heard about the APs "credibility crisis of its own making," in Mark Tapscott's words. Head on over to Tapscott's Copy Desk for an excellent summary. Not immune to the temptations of faux news and fauxtography ourselves, we tricked the Babe into giving us the above focused-feline look by saying "Want your supper" hours before it was actually time for the evening meal. Instinctively responding to the words, he froze for a moment, then realized it was early afternoon, after all, and went back to his washing.
"What a terrible situation to be in, having to defend yourself because of your profession," writes blogger journalist Bill Roggio of The Fourth Rail [via Pajamas Media], who's been talking to soldiers, Marines and contractors whose paths crossed his en route from Kuwaiat to Fallujah, where he will embed with a Marine Police Transition Team (PTT) and also meet with the Civil Affairs Group:
I've always said that the hardest thing about embedding (besides leaving my family) is wearing the badge that says 'PRESS.' That hasn't changed. I hide the badge whenever I can get away with it.
While waiting to manifest on the flight to Fallujah, CNN played a news segment of President Bush announcing there would be no “graceful exit” from Iraq, and that we'd stay until the mission was complete. Two sergeants in the room cheered. Loudly. They then scoffed at the reports from Baghdad, and jeered the balcony reporting.
In nearly every conversation, the soldiers, Marines and contractors expressed they were upset with the coverage of the war in Iraq in general, and the public perception of the daily situation on the ground. They felt the media was there to sensationalize the news, and several stated some reporters were only interested in “blood and guts.” They freely admitted the obstacles in front of them in Iraq. Most recognized that while we are winning the war on the battlefield, albeit with difficulties in some areas, we are losing the information war. They felt the media had abandoned them.
Then, to be fair and balanced, there's the view from the other side. Cassandra of Villainous Company explains:
The military, one can't help but think, is better off without such defenders as Ms. [Eleanor] Clift and [Bush-bashing freshman Representative] James Webb. It is instructive that these 'defenders' are quick to speak on behalf of the military, and even quicker to silence the active duty military should they dare to speak up in support of the war or the administration. Surely they are misguided.
Surely they don't mean what they are saying. They are children. They are poor. They are stupid, uneducated, only in the military because they can't get better jobs. They didn't mean to re-enlist. They are greedy, lured by those big bonuses. They didn't understand their enlistment contracts. They are being subjected to a "back door draft". We need to bring them home, even if they still believe in the mission, even if they still believe this war can be won.
"Perhaps this tension between the media and the military is nothing new," ponders Roggio, but James Q. Wilson at City Journal argues convincingly that we're in "a new period in American journalistic history," where "truth is hard to find and statements merely serve someone's interests":
Once, powerful press owners dictated what their papers would print, sometimes irresponsibly. But that era of partisan and circulation-building distortions was not replaced by a commitment to objective journalism; it was replaced by a deep suspicion of the American government. That suspicion, fueled in part by the Vietnam and Watergate controversies, means that the government, especially if it is a conservative one, is surrounded by journalists who doubt almost all it says. One obvious result is that since World War II there have been few reports of military heroes; indeed, there have been scarcely any reports of military victories.
The mainstream media’s adversarial stance, both here and abroad, means that whenever a foreign enemy challenges us, he will know that his objective will be to win the battle not on some faraway bit of land but among the people who determine what we read and watch.
Fortunately, "what we read and watch" is no longer solely determined by our betters in the "mainstream media" as talk radio, cable TV -- Fox News and the occasional outlier like Glenn Beck on CNNs Headline News -- and the blogosphere ferret out their hidden agendas and promulgate dispatches of their own from the world out there.
Update: If hidden agendas don't interest you, head on over to Modulator's comprehensive Friday Ark #115 and Catymology's spirited Carnival of the Cats #141, where "It's time for a little kitty love and sunshine to chase away all the humans' woes."
Update II: Sometimes humans' woes are not so easily chased. Unbearable sadness for the Father of All Catbloggers, Laurence Simon, who has just lost his beloved Piper. As he would say whenever some awful thing is visited upon our feline loves, give an extra treat or two to your own pussycats in remembrance and appreciation for Piper's incandescent light.