U.S. troops have been mystified at how
differently the war they fight in Iraq is portrayed by the U.S. media back
home. Most just shrug it off as "politics," and yet another reason to not trust
what the mass media presents as reliable reporting. But recently, the troops
have been passing around an interesting discovery. Namely, that the Japanese
psychological warfare effort during World War II included radio broadcasts that
could be picked up by American troops. Popular music was played, but the
commentary (by one of several English speaking Japanese women) always hammered
away on the same points;
1 Your President (Franklin D Roosevelt) is lying to
2 This war is illegal.
3 You cannot win the war.
The troops are perplexed and somewhat amused that
their own media is now sending out this message. Fighting the enemy in Iraq is
simple, compared to figuring out what news editors are thinking back home. A
few times, the mass media has been bold, or foolish, enough to confront the
troops about this divergence of perceptions. The result is usually a surreal exchange, with the troops giving the
journalist a "what planet are YOU from" look. Naturally, this sort of thing
doesn't get much exposure. When pressed, a journalist or editor will dismiss the
opinions of the troops (of all ranks), because they are "too close" to see "the
big picture." For the same reason, reporters who send back material agreeing
with the troops, find their stuff twisted into an acceptable shape, or not used
at all. Historians will have a good time with all this.