Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Hate The War

The U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere regularly assesses the content and tone of the work of individual reporters to prepare for trips and interviews by those reporters, according to defense and military officials.

The above is from Ann Scott Tyson's "Military Prepares Profiles on Reporters Visiting War Zones" (Washington Post) and, big surprise, the officials go on to deny that anyone gets excluded as a result of the so-called assessment. Stars and Stripes reports (no individual reported credited) that they have "obtained documents that prove that reporters' coverage is being graded as 'positive,' 'neutral' or 'negative'." But they're only focused on Afghanistan. That's really stupid. Stars and Stripes has had a reporter publicly refused by the US military. Heath Druzin was refused when he attempted to embed and that was in Iraq. The program covers both countries. For some reason, most are playing like it only covers Afghanistan. Maybe they believe that people will see "Afghanistan" and think the story's "fresh"?

Reality, Americans don't have a visual of Afghanistan. They never have. It's a mountainous country and it's hard for the average viewer to visualize it whereas Iraq can conjure an image instantly. It does matter as many studies have long demonstrated. We comprehend new information better when it builds upon known concepts which we can visualize. That's why learning is usually broken into units.

So when you're story is Afghanistan -- a country most Americans have never grasped as a region -- you've just created snooze time. Congratulations, what a great waste of your time and everyone else's. [For those not aware, the White House is aware of this and that's why they think they can ignore any Congressional objection and run with the Afghanistan War. They've studied it and Afghanistan is a watery concept which they interpret to mean that even the body count this month doesn't matter.]

Kevin Barone (Stars and Stripes) also covers the Afghanistan angle. They demolish claims that the program ended in May (a reporter's file shows her July work being assessed).

It's an important story but it's still flying over people's heads.

The military, in a democracy, does not determine what reporter gets assigned where. In a democracy, editors make assignments. The military should have no say at all. Their job is not to evaluate reporters and I believe we keep hearing 'free market' over and over. Well newspapers (so far) aren't subsidized by the government and they are 'free market' and the editors make assignments so what's the government doing overriding that?

'Free market' or not, a free press doesn't allow for the government 'grading' it and making assignments. That's not how it works and it's offensive that the military has gotten away with it. The US military is not 'preserving our freedoms' in either Iraq or Afghanistan despite that hoary claim. But who knew the brass was actively attempting to destroy our freedoms?

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4332. Tonight? 4334.

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