Weekend Question 3: Why Aren’t We Hearing More Stories of Military Heroism (and Why Does That Make CNN an Enemy Ally)?
ANSWER: There certainly is a media bias factor, but you can’t overlook another very possible, and more chilling, reason for the shortage of such news. That reason makes what CNN did last week with acknowledged enemy propaganda all the more offensive.
Yes, there are exceptions to what appears to be a total blackout of stories of War on Terror heroism by US soldiers:
- The History Channel had a series of programs on the War on Iraq (link is to page with descriptions of the various DVDs). I saw “Battle for Baghdad,” and thought it was a very level-headed treatment that on the whole conveyed the quiet heroism of our soldiers.
- MSNBC has had at least two installments of its “Faces of Courage” series. The two I am aware of tell the stories of Leigh Ann Hester (direct YouTube link here) and Paul Ray Smith (direct YouTube here).
- Of course, the underappreciated milbloggers relay heroic stories when they learn of them, and to the extent that they are permitted (which appears to be happening less frequently [HT Michelle Malkin]).
It has become an article of faith that the reason we don’t hear stories of heroism in Iraq, or even good news about rebuilding efforts and the like, is that the 527 Media will not report the news even when it is known. There can be little doubt that a lot of this deliberate negligence is occurring.
But I have suspected for some time that there is another factor involved, one that I mentioned almost exactly a year ago:
This may be the first war we have fought since The Revolutionary War where our soldiers have had to worry about harm to their families and relatives from enemy sleepers inside our own country. Maybe even more than media bias against the war, perhaps this unfortunately legitimate fear explains why we are not hearing as much about war heroics in Iraq and Afghanistan as we have heard in previous wars. Itâ€™s a real shame not to hear the stories, but itâ€™s hard to argue against suppressing the news if discretion is necessary to keep loved ones safe.
If you have doubts about the validity of that concern, Patterico’s five-part interview with Guantanamo Bay army nurse “Stashiu,” plus a report by Associated Press writer and recent Guantanamo Bay visitor Andrew Selsky, should erase them.
Here’s part of what Selsky wrote:
….. When soldiers pass through the “sally port” – the heavily guarded entrance to some of the detention camps on this 45-square-mile base – they rip their Velcro-attached name tags off their camouflage uniforms. If the name tags are sewn on, they cover them with black tape. Civilian visitors are advised to put their military-issue ID tags into their pockets.
“This is to prevent detainees from organizing attacks against them or their families,” Army Sgt. Vince Oliver said as he went through the sally port. As he entered the compound, a recording of a muezzin calling Muslims to prayer echoed from loudspeakers.
An Army nurse who said he worked at its medical facility for a year until last May wrote in a blog (that would be in Part 2 of Patterico’s series — Ed.) that he wouldn’t hesitate to kill a former detainee if he saw him in his town.
“I can tell you that if I ever saw a detainee face-to-face here in the States, I would immediately assume that I was targeted and do my best to kill them without further warning,” wrote the soldier, who would be identified only by his nickname, Stashiu.
Stashiu and the military know that the Gitmo detainees aren’t blowing smoke.
Who would the detainees get to organize attacks against our soldiers or their families? Any one of the probably thousands of violent jihadist Muslims and terrorist sympathizers who are already in our midst. It isn’t difficult at all to imagine that terrorists in Iraq have the same desire, and even better ability, to order the commission of violent acts against soldiers’ families, and the soldiers themselves when they return.
There is certainly evidence that the military is holding back on full descriptions of heroic battlefield acts. For example, I have read where Hester’s exploits in reality went far, far beyond what MSNBC described.
Given the inherent limits on the military’s ability to portray military heroics on the battlefield, you would hope that the press, which certainly must recognize the existence of those limits, would guard against giving the enemy undeserved opportunities for free propaganda about their successes that will not have a counterweight.
CNN has shown that those hopes are for naught.
Last Thursday (HT Hot Air), CNN gave terrorists in Iraq a free opportunity to show how occasionally effective the efforts of their snipers can be in harming our soldiers. In previous wars, such video would never have been shown. In today’s climate, an argument could possibly be made (wrongly, in my opinion) that running such video shows the other side of the story. But the fact that OUR side of the battlefield story cannot be fully told thanks to the potential for enemy sleeper retaliation negates any conceivable validity of that argument. A review of CNN’s pitiful justifications for airing the videos at Anderson Cooper’s blog gives no inkling that this factor was even considered.
CNN provided aid and comfort to an enemy whose agents in the US prevent our military from telling our side’s full story. By doing so, CNN has in essence allied itself with the enemy.
Our military may be overly cautious, and may not be doing all it can or should do to get their story out, but that’s beside the point. As long as the military’s posture is what it is, the press, simply in the interest of fairness and balance, has to be especially cautious about making the enemy look good. Instead, CNN has gone in the opposite direction. In saner times, their actions would have been nearly universally characterized as sedition. In the totality of the circumstances and even under today’s supposedly relaxed standards, I believe what CNN has done would still qualify.