Iraq Missions That Work
Missing From Mainstream Media
When Things Go Right, Honest Media Should Report It
Did you see the big headline or watch the top-of-the-newscast story about the success of our sons and daughters in Samarra, Iraq?
Of course, you didn't.
I found mention deep in stories from The Christian Science Monitor and The Associated Press. But it took e-mails from Marine officers in Iraq to relay the importance of this positive news - so I could tell you.
It shouldn't be this way. Yet journalism in America is broken. It has no foundation of values by which many Americans can relate and depend. The moral of this column is not about one side prevailing in news coverage on the war on terror. It's simply about fairness about Americans getting both sides with the same prominence.
They're not. And media emphasis on Iraq being in chaos has coincided with John Kerry making the same pitch to voters. It makes you wonder, just as we did on the authenticity of Dan Rather's reporting. And now America knows about Rather's ruse.
''Samarra is a beaming success story over here,'' writes Lt. Col Jim Rose, a Tennessee Marine whose parents live in Old Hickory. ''We were getting ready for a take-down there right after Najaf. We told the locals, 'Hey, see what happened in Najaf? Is that what you want? Cause we're coming.' It took the locals about two days to get the bad guys out.''
Rose is based in the Sunni Triangle. That's where most U.S. casualties occur, where the Sunnis are supportive of terrorists coming in. Fallujah is there, along with Samarra and Najaf, where Marines drove terrorists out of one of Islam's holiest shrines.
Rose verified a message I received from another Marine officer in Iraq. He provided perspective missing in the media: ''Those achievements, more than anything else - account for the surge in violence in recent days - especially the violence directed at Iraqis by the insurgents. Both in Najaf and Samarra, ordinary people stepped out and took sides with the Iraqi government against the insurgents, and the bad guys are hopping mad. They are trying to instill fear once again.''
Rose asked: ''Why isn't the media covering Samarra?''
Instead, we get what reader Jim League of Smyrna complains about. He cited a picture and story featured at the top of Page 13A in Saturday's Tennessean:
''The perhaps 100 protesters get front-and-center billing, and the impression is that all of Iraq is unhappy. What is missing is perspective. Imagine a foreigner perusing the front page of The Tennessean. He reads about a 15-year-old-boy being chained to his bed for six weeks. Would he be justified in believing that all parents in America constrain their children? If he had no perspective and if his impression was selectively reinforced by subtle media or political pundits, this could be possible.''
Exactly. And what we get on TV is also just one side. Consider this story Rose saw reported: ''I was going through the battle damage assessment at my desk with NBC's Today on the TV. The attack occurred in the middle of the night. I had the footage of the attack on my computer, and here's Katie Couric (or whoever hosts it) showing the same bomb location.
''I had pictures of the bombed vehicles, which is how I knew she was talking about the same location. The next shot is kids being carried into a hospital. We had eyes on this for a long time. If there were kids in there, they were toting weapons or the terrorists used them as human shields.
''I went to our Combat Operations Center and walked into them watching the same thing. I verified what I thought and spoke with our intelligence guys. They said the whole thing was staged and probably old footage. They track the footage and have seen repeat footage shown in the past. They also said to look at the footage and see if it makes sense. More often than not, it doesn't - pulling a child from rubble with relatively clean clothes. ''
Is NBC wrong and the Marines right? Americans deserve both sides to make up their minds.
''The Najaf shrine - HUNDREDS of dead women and children were brought out after Sadr left,'' Rose wrote. ''They (Sadr's supporters) rounded them up during the battle and brought them in to be executed. Why? Because they anticipated the Americans would eventually enter the shrine and walk into a media ambush. We never went in. The people of Najaf love us right now because of that. They hate Sadr and want him dead.
''Have you heard that one yet (in the media)?''
No we haven't. We just get one side. That's bad journalism - by a news media acting in concert with Kerry.



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