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Thursday, December 21, 2006


State media

"If we had state media in the United States, how would it be any different?" - Amy Goodman
Two days ago, the news came out that the government is going to start illegally broadcasting its anti-Cuban propaganda stations TV and Radio Marti on commercial Florida stations. Honestly, I couldn't get that worked up about it, because, as Amy Goodman notes, CNN and friends already do such a good job broadcasting American propaganda that a real government station could hardly do better.

Case in point: this morning over breakfast (personal detail inserted for the benefit of George Will) I was listening to CNN's Pentagon reporter Jamie McIntyre reporting on Defense Secretary Bob Gates' visit to Baghdad (making him, at least temporarily, Baghdad Bob). The "line" was that Gates had met with "regular" American soldiers in Iraq and that all of them, without exception, had said that more troops were needed in Iraq. Now I don't know about you, but when I see a dozen soldiers eating breakfast with the Secretary of Defense, I assume they were not picked randomly from the entire population of soldiers in Iraq, but were a hand-picked, and most likely pre-briefed, group, just like the group that talked to George Bush via video phone in a famous incident (the one in which one of the main ones doing the talking was a P.R. specialist). Well, as I said, that's what I think, and probably what you think, but evidently the thought never occurred to McIntyre, since he never asked the obvious questions: 1) what do surveys actually show about the attitudes of soldiers in Iraq (answer: most of them think it's time to leave, not time to add more troops); 2) who were these soldiers and how were they selected; 3) can I speak to them privately and anonymously to get their real opinions? Evidently that would be too much actual "reporting" for government spokesperson CNN reporter McIntyre to deal with.

Nor is McIntyre alone; here's the Reuters treatment of the event which ran in the New York Times today, at least online:

On Thursday he had breakfast with ordinary soldiers to sound out their views on troop levels, a timeline for training Iraqis, sectarian leanings in the Iraqi security forces and the "caliber and discipline" of Iraqi soldiers and their military leaders.

"Sir, I think we need to just keep doing what we're doing," Specialist Jason Glenn told Gates.

"I really think we need more troops here. With more presence on the ground, more troops might hold them (the insurgents) off long enough to where we can get the Iraqi army trained up."

No soldier present said U.S. forces should be brought home, and none said current troop levels were adequate, as some commanders have argued.
Were these really "ordinary" soldiers as the reporter claims? How exactly does the reporter know that? Was the Reuters reporter given a chance to talk to them privately? C'mon, you know the answers to all these questions. But sadly, many of the people listening to or reading state media (CNN, The New York Times, etc.) don't.

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