The sport of war

During a stimulating lunch time conversation, DQ expressed genuine mystification at my post asking whether the media was right all along. In that post, I said I wasn’t going to quarrel with whether the media was right or not about getting into the war (and some post commentors correctly noted that some in the media were war cheerleaders), but that I did quarrel with how the media reported the war. I’ll quote myself:

I therefore side with Dunn in blaming the press for undermining the war effort by passing on every bit of enemy propaganda; making ill-founded, often inaccurate doom-and-gloom predictions; focusing obsessively on American failures and missteps, without expending equal energy on American successes; and trying to undermine internal American security programs. To the extent that the media has a fair amount of impact, I think much of their reporting took on the power of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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  1. says

    DQ felt that this view reflected my own biases too strongly.

    Your analysis is spot on, Book. The bias of not supporting the war in the first place because of the invasion of Saddam’s Iraq, is the true distortion.

    He also doubted my conclusion that the media wants America to lose the war.

    I’m sure he doubts that Cronkite wanted the US to lose too.

    How can DQ say it is a matter of your biases concerning whether the media should cheer the war on, when DQ never would have went to war in the first place? Obviously he would prefer a media that didn’t a cheer a war he didn’t want.

    The idea of propaganda operations in media affairs just can’t be restricted to the simple proclamation of “they are biased because they reported something I know to be true”. Why? Because if Don convinces himself to believe that something is true, then that isn’t media bias to him. That is why propaganda operations are independent of people’s perceptions, while at the same time trying to affect perceptions.

    First, DQ is right that the media is responsible for passing on the news about the war, both positive and negative.

    They are responsible for passing along the information from the government and the Pentagon, yes, because their sources are primarily government based in war. All their statistics and body bag counts come from the government.


  2. says

    DQ felt that this view reflected my own biases too strongly.

    To elaborate on what I meant in my first paragraph, it is simply that what is reflected is either truth or an illusion. What Book said about the media in her quote of herself is true. It cannot show a reflection of bias when it is the truth. But if it is not the truth, if it is incomplete such as the violence in Iraq, then it does reflect the personal flaws of an individual belief system (bias).

  3. says

    It would be nice to believe that the media is simply anti-Bush, but objective reading reveals it is anti-Bush, anti-anti-terrorism and anti-war, which leads to the logical conclusion — anti-American! Unless, of course, the libs are in complete control. Then we will see a Soros/Clinton/Obama administration “friendly” media. There will be no “war” about which to report except US against Israel, to our shame. We will see a domestic war against Jews, Christians and Conservatives.. It is beginning now.

    I was personally heavily involved with the Goldwater presidential campaign in 1964.. We had no blogs (no computers), no friendly media, (pulp or TV). It was a desperate downhill battle against the far left media.. but I believe it was the seed of the Conservative movement that elected Reagan and eventually elected Bush… And now, sorry to say, the movement has been betrayed, demoralized and almost destroyed!

    The media will never report fairly on things Conservative, whether in a sports scenario or not.. American media has been Oprah-ized.

    Book, as you know, your 60s comrades from which, thankfully, you separated, has become the lead force in the media and government.

    This is not sport.. it is the real thing.. and I pray somehow the patriotic American giant will re-awaken.


  4. says

    I think you stated your case very clearly and I happen to agree with you. I have been noting the sly, subtle, and off-the-cuff anti-Bush comments in the media (in pieces having little or nothing to do with Bush) for a long time, before 9/11. As I mentioned to a friend of mine years ago, once Bushs got in office, turning on the network news at dinner time, meant hearing “Here’s what the President did today, and here’s why it’s wrong.” 9/11 didn’t change any of that, but the stakes are higher now for all of us because we are at war. I too resent the intrusion of a prepackaged, patronizing, liberal, anti-Bush, and now anti-war bias between me and the daily news coverage.

    When it comes to covering a war we are fighting, it becomes not just annoying but serious. I agree with your sports coverage analogy. It seems clear to me that during WWII journalists made the decision that they were Americans first, journalists second, and they were still pretty good journalists at that, if our current veneration of Edward R. Murrow and Ernie Pyle is well-founded. Today’s so-called more “balanced” or “professional” journalism seems to me to be mostly just lazy and formulaic (when it is not bordering on sedition by leaking classified data): ‘here’s the forumula for coverage, here’s the same tired story dished up night after night with different names and numbers.’ News “professionals” are so in their ruts they usually cannot see their way to offering us enough real creativity in trying to get at the big picture (including the truth instead of their own bias); they rarely offer us sufficient depth or fair breadth, just as you pointed out.

    That’s why I so enjoy reading the news and analysis on the internet these days: other voices, other views. And I do happen to like Brit Hume’s Fox News coverage, for covering stories and raising subjects that the MSM won’t touch. I want to know the daily news, I don’t want to be conditioned by “professional journalists” to hold their opinion.

    The bigger picture can still be found if you dig for it, fortunately. Only difference is, nobody today should think the major mainstream news media is giving us “all the news” anymore.

  5. Danny Lemieux says

    Bravo, Book. “Walter’s” comment, “…because I am a scorpion” is dead-on! What I wonder is whether the Democrat/Left is so lost in its alternate universe that it believes that either of the following will happen if they gain power: a) world peace will reign and therefore we sheep will meekly return to grazing in our contented pastures, free of the fear of wolves or b) that Americans will turn on a dime with new-found conviction that those that seek to destroy us will now have to fought under a new administration? The Democrat/Left and their media acolytes are either delusional, suicidal or both. To many of our citizenry, unfortunately, are in dreamland.

  6. T.S. says

    “what I wonder is whether the Democrat/Left is so lost in its alternate universe that it believes that either of the following will happen if they gain power: a) world peace will reign and therefore we sheep will meekly return to grazing in our contented pastures, free of the fear of wolves or b) that Americans will turn on a dime with new-found conviction that those that seek to destroy us will now have to fought under a new administration?” – Danny

    If they are smart, the Democrat/Left will realize that a small company named Brown and Root, which was bought by Halliburton in 1963, carried a Congressman named Lyndon Johnson to power. They will see that the addage “same shit, different day” is particularly apt when it comes to politics.

    If they are smart, they will realize that foreign policy decisions are formulated behind the scenes regardless what the front men are saying. They will realize that whether the president’s name is Kennedy or Nixon, politicians lie like hell when it comes to matters of war and U.S. foreign policy.

    If they are smart, they will realize that the invasion of Iraq was in the works well before 9/11 and that the repurcusssions wil be felt for decades, regardless which party holds power.

  7. Al says

    What a thought. A media which treats the US military as the home team, warts, wins, and all. I would certainly cheer on such behavior currently. I would have to think long, and hard, and creatively if we were in a shooting war I personally strongly opposed. Say against Israel or England. It would, naturally, depend on the circumstances. Most of the conflicts we have joined in are supportable. I’d have to review the Spanish-American War though. Wasn’t it the media which helped get us into that one?

    There is another idea implied by BW’S recent blog strings. The decision to go to war in very rare cases is the only, final, option. But the policies of the Libs, the media, and the Europeans all want to avoid disagreement or pain. They throw money at a problem, negotiate, or just kick it down the road. They do not think long term. They do not anticipate consequences. They do not think like adults.
    And there are many short sighted people on the conservative side, but I think less.

  8. dagon says


    But the policies of the Libs, the media, and the Europeans all want to avoid disagreement or pain. They throw money at a problem, negotiate, or just kick it down the road. They do not think long term

    give me another tired, threadbare and thoroughly infantile platitude about the libs please. i haven’t had my morning chuckle yet.

    seriously though, in light of recent events you’re going to try to argue that the “conservatives” are the ones with the vision? hahahahahahahaha.

    i really wish you people would stop looking at our political landscape like it’s the bears vs. the packers or something. until you wise up and get over this partisanship, we are doomed.

    chris rock said it very well i think (edits and emphasis mine):

    [The whole country's got a f____d up mentality. We all got a gang mentality. Republicans are f___ing idiots. Democrats are f___ing idiots. Conservatives are idiots and liberals are idiots.

    Anyone who makes up their mind before they hear the issue is a f___ing fool. Everybody, nah, nah, nah, everybody is so busy wanting to be down with a gang! I'm a conservative! I'm a liberal! I'm a conservative! It's bullshit!

    Be a f___ing person. Listen. Let it swirl around your head. Then form your opinion.

    No normal decent person is one thing. OK!?! I got some shit I'm conservative about, I got some shit I'm liberal about. Crime - I'm conservative. Prostitution - I'm liberal.]


  9. kevin says


    Welcome back, having recently dealt (or at least tried to–hah, there’s an exercise in futility) deal with a resident “intellectual,” I actually look forward to have a discussion with someone who, while we do have areas of disagreement, can succinctly present a logical argument.

    In this particular case, I would have to say that I agree with Chris Rock, I have to disagree with you on prostitution though–I’ve seen too many instances where it is really detrimental to the women involved; it’s not victimless.

  10. T.S. says

    “No normal decent person is one thing. OK!?!” — Chris Rock

    It’s easier to divide people into one camp or another, and then decide which team to root for (or to blame everything on) than it is to face one’s own prejudices.

    And as for special interests? It always seems that the people who are most opposed to identity politics engage in identity politics thmselves.

    One of my favorite lines:

    “I used to be Irish Catholic now I’m an American, you know you grow.” – George Carlin

  11. dagon says


    that prostitution statement was part of chris rock’s punchline, not necessarily my views.

    and you’re right that prostitution isn’t victimless. however it does represent an immutable aspect of our human natures and i believe our unrealistic demonization of it’s practitioners isn’t necessarily constructive either.

    this would make an interesting topic for a thread i think.


  12. says

    People who know me understands that wisdom is far more important a virtue than intellect. But then again, too many people believe that if they have enough smarts, they can figure out the media bias and steer through the muddy waters of the Styx. But that is incorrect in a way. Because one of the detriments of high intellect, as with John Kerry or Gore or the academics, is that the smarter you are, the more contradictory beliefs you may hold in your head at anyone time. A dumb person would be unable to go through the mental gymnastics that the media requires, in order for that person to believe a lot of things that contradict directly what they see or experience.

    It takes a lot of intellectual power to form justifications or rationalizations, for example, that religious fanatics are a problem and the worst problem is Christian fundamentalists. That is actually a rather intelligent way to divert the sense of helplessness and fear one feels towards terrorists, against a more domestic and rare threat. Every human being has mental and psychological defenses against certain stimuli. But only the most intelligent of us are capable of the greatest delusion. But is the opposite true. Are the most intelligent of us also capable of the greatest enlightenment? That remains to be seen, perhaps.

    Perhaps it is a component of Total War in a way. In that numbers of troops or the quality of troops do not matter in the end, only the Will matters in the end. Numbers and quality of training helps, for certain, but the Will decides many things in the end almost independent of numbers and quality. Quantity and quality.

    One of the benefits of wisdom, you see, is the ability to harness your senses to percieve what is actually there. It is different from delusion where you see what you desire to see. Wisdom thus gives a person the ability to see things for what they are, instead of what they wish it to be. How is it developed then? Well Neo-Neocon, SHrinkwrapped, and Bookworm have experienced some of that progress. The psychologists may explain it better than I, and they have if you read Neo’s Change Series on her blog.

    While intelligence is from genetics, wisdom is not. Wisdom is earned. And in a way, that makes it more of a virtue, more highly placed in Aristotle’s Virtue Theory, than intelligence ever could be. At its heart, however, wisdom is the desire of a person to see things with unclouded eyes, no matter the pain, no matter the effort or sacrifice. Based upon a motivation that says, if you Do Not See, then you will lose everything.

    It is one of the reasons why there are several people I like and can respect that do not agree politically with me. And there are many people who dislike and disrespect me regardless of the fact that we agree politically. Because it is not about beliefs, IQ, or common ground. That may be a required component for the Left to like or dislike a person (Neo’s personal testimony), but it should not be the standard by which true liberals judge people.

    It is like Hamas. A person may dislike their policies, but if Hamas is the one giving the person’s family care and jobs, then you are going to like them or support them. Even if you disagree with them.

    I think many neo-cons and classical/true liberals have went to the Republican party because of how they treated by the Right as opposed to how they are treated by the Left (Lieberman). It is not really a political agreement, not even with Christopher HItchins even, between liberals and conservatives. But more of a necessity because they have been exiled by the Democrat party. Many neo-cons were pushed to the right, and while many feared their welcome by the right, their fears were for the most part incorrect.

    I have read and commented on Neo’s blog for more than a year. And I can personally attest to the fact that even at Neo’s most pacifist or even-handed posts, political supporters of the Iraq War did not attack her personally or make fun of her unwillingness to committ to Total War firepower or ruthless actions in Iraq.

    Her views were not the mirror views of her readers, and I believe that was fine to her readers, perhaps even a requirement for why they read her blog. People seemed to read Neo because of her unique experiences, because of her view of the world and her even-handed treatment of Democrats and Republicans.

    What does all this have to do with the media? Well, the media enforces ideologicaly purity. And that not only pisses off a lot of pro-war supporters, but it also chases away anybody in the media who could hold an independent belief. They either succumbed to the intimidation and desire to fit in, or they quit.

    And if all the folks of Neo’s caliber quit, then it doesn’t matter what political tendencies are in the media, either 90% Democrat or 95% Republican. So long as you have people who are weak and bad of character, it doesn’t matter what politics they have, that institution will go to hell shortly.

  13. mike wolff says

    Bookworm well stated! I recently read an article at the Asia Times on Chinas growing influence in the Middle East. The writer stated that the US had lost the war in Iraq. He did not go into any details as to why, but it seemed to me that his comment probably was influenced by our MSM. There are success stories in Iraq and I hope you do not mind me putting this link on your site: Here are 2 journalist that are not hiding in the green zone spinning stories brought back by whatever sources they can pay to get them.These are very brave people who are putting their lives on the line with our troops to get the real stories out.

  14. says

    One of the things that I see in the news is not so much negativity. Because real negativity in war usually means that the losing side’s morale is so low that “any” news of victory would bring it up. The media doesn’t want to do that, they don’t want to do what they did in the January elections in Iraq. Purposefully make Americans expect badness, and then when it doesn’t show up, the Americans are joyful and happy. The media didn’t want that, and it really embarassed them.

    What the media does very effectively is what Cronkite did. Which is to create a sense of apathy. Apathy has nothing to do with negative news, well it isn’t created from entirely negative news. Apathy is produced in a population by constantly keeping their morale at a very low level, but not rock bottom. It basically keeps a population in a coma, where they are so sick that they stop caring. They stop caring, that is apathy, and it is what the media does well. It gives you a sense that escalation as Cronkite put it, will simply be met by Vietnamese counters. That regardless of what you do in this war, it will keep going on, the death and the destruction.

    When presented with the morale equivalent of a never-ending war, most people shut that kind of depression out or deny or repress it. The military usually just surrenders.

    This is shown in the media in a couple of ways. The media shows the IED attacks are unstoppable and very painful, giving the impression that the US logistics convoys are on their ropes and patrols can’t get out without being afraid of being blown up. At the same time they tell you that the United States are “cleaning out” terrorist strongholds, and that they are “defeating pockets of the enemy”. This removes the idea of defeat in a person’s mind, it removes the fear of defeat, and replaces it with the pain of the IED attacks. So people start asking themselves, “well if we are winning, why are our troops being killed by IEDs”?

    The counter to this kind of reporting was demonstrated by Book. You have to report negative news in terms of it being really negative. This brings the morale of the audience down to a point, where it may be raised in the future by a future victory. Red Sox for example, lose, lose, lose, lose X6, then win x1.

    But if you make a population not care if it wins or loses, then when people do win, nobody is paying attention. They have given up hope.

  15. Al says

    Apathy equals entropy. No one cares. But there is the phrase, if you just show up, you will be a success. Intelligence certainly helps, but if you aren’t there, who cares?
    Let’s hear it for all who show up!

  16. kevin says

    Actually, “apathy equals entropy” would be more accurately stated, “apathy is one factor leading to entropy” by equating apathy with a lack of energy (non-participation) being input into a society.

  17. Don Quixote says

    This whole conversation is somewhat artificial, since the MSM is made up of individuals, each of whom has multiple motivations. But the MSM did not kill 78 people in Baghdad today, or 34.000+ last year. The MSM is far too gullible and far too eager to report bad news. But the problems in Iraq are real and focusing on the reporting, rather than the problems, is misguided.

    I’m not a fan of the notion that the MSM must be Americans first and journalists second. It would be enough if they were journalists first, last and only, and were not either pro- or anti-American.

    The U.S. has “won” the war in Iraq in the sense that we have taken down a dictatorship & seen the dictator executed. But we are “losing” in the overall sense that we have failed to install a functioning democracy acceptable to all parties. And, if the Democrats have their way (and I expect them to) we will “lose” completely by withdrawing and watching Iraq descend into either civil war or another dictatorship.

    In the end, we must leave. We cannot stay there forever. But we should do so in a way that optimizes American (and, for that matter, Iraqi) interests. Rather than beating up the MSM, which accomplishes nothing and deflects us from the real problems, we should be concentrating on coming up with ideas on how to withdraw while maximizing our interests. The Democrats sure don’t have any and, honestly, I’m not sure I do either. But that’s where we should put our energy.

  18. says

    But the problems in Iraq are real and focusing on the reporting, rather than the problems, is misguided.

    Only if you think the propaganda war has nothing to do with the violence. But that is a personal belief, it has nothing to do with why it is right. First you have to defend why you believe the propaganda war has nothing to do with the violence in Iraq.

    But we are

  19. jg says

    “In the end, we must leave.” (DQ, 24)

    US presence in the Middle East has been a constant for several decades. I cannot see that changing. So, no, we will not leave. No one except the terrorists and the Left wants us to.

    You are right about confronting ‘real problems,’ DQ. But ‘we’ will never confront the ‘real problems’ with a media that refuses to tell the truth. Where are the facts of the conflict in Iraq? Nowhere in the MSM I see. Facts are the beginning. And honesty.

    It is hard not to share the helplessness and horror of Iraqis who see Americans playing politics with their very existence.

  20. kevin says

    “JG does a good addendum to what I was talking about, as well, with his middle paragraph.”

    But you’ll notice he was referencing DQ’s post; it’s not all about Ymarsakar (still insist marking your territory?)

  21. Al says

    Ymarsakar, The entropy comment was a bounce off your thought that the MSM is creating apathy in the population by the constant negative reporting. Their unspoken and probably unrealized tactic being to eventually cause the pubic to believe we cannot succeed, we cannot do anything to protect ourselves, so we do not continue to try. The apathy created by the media leads to the entropy of our destruction. Which is why the MSM’s behavior cannot be tolerated. The latest example of media malfesance being the manipulation of statistics by the NYT to falsely state that more women are single than married.
    We must not pull out of Iraq,until Iraq has a stable democratic government capable of defending itself and a stable, growing economy. And we should never completely leave Iraq because we should create a good intel organization to watch for the terrorists

    I logged on just after the Bears/Saints game. Went to bed just after the Colts/Patriots half time. Want a surprise in the morning.

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