The Press’s Role in Iraq

Ralph Peters has an excellent piece on the role of the press in modern politics, specifically with reference to Iraq:
“The truth is that today’s media shape reality – often for the worse. The media form a powerful strategic factor. They’re actors, not merely observers.
“The selectivity with which the news is reported shapes opinion, here and abroad. The news we see, hear and read from Iraq is overwhelmingly bad news. Thus, the picture the American electorate and foreign audiences receive is one of spreading failure – even though our occupation has made admirable progress.
“What do we hear from Iraq? Another soldier killed. The rest is silence. By ceaselessly focusing on the negative, the media wear down the judgment of the American people. Recent declines in support for our policy have far more to do with the way events are reported than with the reality in Iraq.
“We’re on the way to talking ourselves into defeat in the face of victory. Much of the media has already called the game’s outcome as a loss before we’ve reached half-time. Even though the scoreboard shows we’re winning.
“The media must face up to their responsibility for strategic outcomes. This will be tough, since they’ve had a free ride for so long. Indeed, the media’s all-purpose motto seems to be ‘Not our fault.’
“Yet negative outcomes increasingly are the media’s fault. Terrorists use the media with great skill – it’s no accident that the great age of terror coincides precisely with the expansion and globalization of the broadcast media. To an extent few journalists will admit, terror as we know it depends on the media as its accomplice, amplifying the terrorist’s deeds and shaping successes out of terrorist failures – the opposite of the media’s approach to American efforts.”


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