Information Warfare: Holiday Greetings from the Mass Media

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December 24, 2005: One of the biggest gripes that the troops have had is the unrelenting negativity of the American media. In one interview on the Today show back in August, an Army officer told Matt Lauer, "Sir, if I got my news from the newspapers also, I'd be pretty depressed as well."

The portrayal has gone on despite three failures by the insurgents to disrupt elections in Iraq, successful offensives by American and Iraqi forces (in some cases, the insurgents are suffering 20 casualties for every casualty they inflict), and Saddam Hussein's trial. Yet all that gets coverage are the latest attacks by the insurgents, or the casualties. The media's glowing coverage of the anti-war movement has not helped matters, either. In one study, only 10 percent of the stories (34 out of 324) were positive or optimistic. These would be stories that focused on victories against insurgents or progress in the reconstruction. Another 28 percent (90 out of 324) were balanced. The other 62 percent (200) were negative, either focusing on casualties, or the latest attack.

This has been going on for a while. The fact is, many in the media (63 percent) feel that the American effort to establish a stable democracy in Iraq will fail, while 56 percent of Americans in general think the American effort will succeed. In another disparity, 68 percent of those media feel that liberating Iraq hurt the war on terror. Among the general public, it's an even 44-44 split. This is a huge tilt against the war when compared to the general public.

This disparity is something that is going to lead to problems. Already, relations between the troops and the press are frosty. These poll results will only convince the troops that the media is not a friend. - Harold C. Hutchison (hchutch@ix.netcom.com)

 


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