The War On The Media

Hugh Hewitt, self-annointed Minister of Information, is back at it today:

Howard Fineman’s MSNBC column, “Was It Worth It? ,”underscores how difficult it is for the United States to succeed in the war on terror given the public’s media-driven demands for quick results and tied-up-in-bows conclusions. Fineman begins his gloomy, defeatist column with a letter written by an officer he will not name in a branch of the service he will not specify:

“Our eventual departure, he worries, will leave nothing but cosmetic structure here. Every mission, he writes, requires a conscious escape from the resignation that there is nothing here to win and every occasion to fail.

Less than a month ago, Newsweek ran with an anonymous source’s story on Koran abuse, and riots erupted and people died. Now we are treated to an anonymous officer tolling doom for the new Iraqi government.

I believe that Fineman has such a letter, and that it was written by an officer. So what? If you stop by Major K’s blog, and especially the post “Getting the Hang of this Democracy Thing,” you will get a completely different picture, but this one backed up by a name, a rank, and a picture.

There are lots of reasons an officer might send Fineman such a letter, reasons we cannot know because we don’t have the specifics on the author. Fineman’s decision to launch a column using that letter as opposed to Major K’s post is a choice –one consistently made by MSM– to lead with the bad news from Iraq and rarely, if ever, underscore not just the progress there, but also the alternative universe that would exist if, two years and two months ago, Saddam had not been removed.

Let’s put aside Hugh’s hoary reliance on media-bashing memes like the ‘Newsweek Lied, People Died” idiocy. Anyone want to wager a guess why someone saying everything is rosy in Iraq has no problem putting his name, id, and picture up, while someone who says things aren’t going very well might want to remain anonymous?

Any guesses?

I would wager it is because there is no risk in saying everything is just peachy keen in Iraq. Hell, Dick Cheney does it every day. So does Hugh.

The truth is probably somewhere in between the anonymous source and the rosy scenario Hugh wants advanced, but Hugh isn’t really interested in the truth- he is interested in political cover and destroying the media.

And as for Howard’s column– it isn’t a dire assessment of the region. While Howard himself admits the letter is ‘gloomy,’ he doesn’t say all is lost. Instead, he asks the reader to engage in a little reflection:

Ive often said that George W. Bushs decision to go to Iraq was one of the biggest and most consequential ever made by a president. Was it folly or shrewd foresight? Are we safer as a result, or more imperiled? Was the liberation of Iraq worth the death it caused, the money it cost and the hatred it engendered? What now? Wouldnt leaving soon be worse than never having gone?

Those are legitimate questions, and you can come to your own conclusions. I still believe it was worth it, and I still believe a long term commitment is necessary and will be successful.

Such reflection, however, is a threat to Hugh and those who have clear and pressing priorities. Remember what is really important here- not a sober assessment of the good and the bad in Iraq and a reasoned debate about the future of our commitment in Iraq. What is really important to Hugh is submission of the media and the 2006 elections.

It’s pretty damn pathetic. Meanwhile, on the ground in Iraq:

The rift between the Iraqi government and hostile Sunni Arabs widened further on Wednesday as the country’s leaders came out in support of ethnic and sectarian militias that Sunnis fear could be used against them.

In recent days the Shiite-led committee has proposed adding 12 to 15 nonvoting seats for Sunni Arabs.

Today, a Sunni member of the constitutional committee, Adnan al-Janabi, said that the committee was meeting with Sunni leaders and would try to reach an agreement on how many Sunnis to include. He added that the new commission formed by the addition of the Sunnis would approve a draft of the constitution by consensus, and so the Sunnis would have as much say in the process as the 55-member parliamentary committee.

The announcement regarding militias was the first time the new government had publicly backed armed ethnic and sectarian groups, and it was an implicit rebuke to American officials, who have repeatedly asked that the government disband all militias in the country. The largest militias are the Kurdish pesh merga and an Iranian-trained Shiite militia that Sunni leaders have blamed for attacks against them.

Why on earth is the Ny Times reporting this? Why do they hate America? Damn liberal media. Don’t they know a school opened today somewhere?

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32 replies
  1. 1
    Rick says:

    John,

    Let me edit, like an out-of-control WH oil baron:

    What is really important to Balloon Juice’s guests is submission of the media and the 2006 elections.

    Thus everyone picks and chooses. Including you.

    Seriously, Pat Dobson looms larger in your world than anyone else I’ve read. Practically a Sidd Finch in stature.

    And you’re trying to persuade unbelieving heathens like me, by scanning the news and blogs for reinforcing messages, that he’s devouring the GOP. That’s different behavior from Hewitt’s? Please.

    Cordially…

  2. 2
    John Cole says:

    When every administration action is either out of control spending on the fiscal side or winks and nods and outright gifts to the religious right, I don’t have to pick and choose my stories too carefully.

  3. 3
    Rick says:

    John,

    Oh, I don’t accuse you of being careful. ;)

    No, your antennae are atuned to your agenda. Like Hewitt’s and everyone’s.

    If that’s giving the crowd what it wants, and perks up your revenues, good on ya. I could say “damn pathetic,” but choose the high road.

    Cordially…

  4. 4
    KC says:

    John, I know this is going to get me in trouble, but at this point, I don’t think Hillary is looking too bad in 2008. I like Hagel and I sort of like McCain, but they have not done anything noticable in my mind to hold down spending or put any checks on the executive branch. More to the point, I just fear pushing the country more into the hands Dobson and his alcolytes, people who I fear they’d eventually have to sell themselves to just to get elected. At least with Hillary, I know she’d be under such a gun from the right that she’d have to wear restraints.

  5. 5
    RW says:

    Rick scores a bullseye.

  6. 6
    John Cole says:

    Of course everyone has an agenda.

    I think Hugh’s is just bad for the country.

  7. 7
    Rick says:

    John,

    I’d welcome the risk of finding it in practice. Not every status quo is to be cherished.

    Especially when power is concentrated but purported to be “off limits” to reform. What goes for corporations (Fox! Fox!) goes for less structured institutions, like the “MSM.”

    Cordially…

  8. 8
    Hacktacular says:

    John — I just don’t understand why you give Glenn Reynolds a pass all the time. Every story you criticize from Hugh and his ilk is linked to by Instapundit with an “indeed” or a “heh” or some other short comment. Yet you continue to kiss his ass, and guess what, he never links you anymore now that you no longer are on the kill-MSM bandwagon. (What’s funny is that if you go to Daily Kos and read their criticism of the MSM, it sounds almost exactly like Glenn and Hugh’s.)

  9. 9
    shark says:

    *SIGH*

    After all you’ve seen from the media and you STILL choose to carry water for them?

    Perplexing to say the least.

  10. 10
    CalDevil says:

    Ok John, we get it. You disagree with Hugh on abortion, gay marriage, right to die issues and the religious right in general.

    Well great. So do I and so do a lot of other people. Nevertheless, this relentless bashing of Hugh (especially on an issue that has nothing to with the “Christian agenda”) and anyone else who dares to admit to conservative Christian ideals is getting tiresome very quickly.

    Feel free to challenge Hugh and others, including this Pres and the GOP in congress on the social issues you hold dear. Hell, I support you fully on those points.

    However, just because Hugh takes a somewhat skeptical view of one in a long line of MSM sky is falling in Iraq stories does not render him, as you so graciously depict, a modern day Goebbels.

    I’ve read your blog for a while now and I’ve consistently found you well-reasoned even when I haven’t agreed with you. I like your style, but I notice that you’ve recently become more personal in your scraps, rather than just letting the might of your ideas carry the day. Do you honestly believe that Hugh has any expectation that the MSM will give this admin and the GOP in congrees a pass in 06?

    Please John, tell us you’re not veering off into Sullivan territory.

  11. 11
    John Cole says:

    Nevertheless, this relentless bashing of Hugh (especially on an issue that has nothing to with the “Christian agenda”) and anyone else who dares to admit to conservative Christian ideals is getting tiresome very quickly.

    Project much?

    Exactly what in this post discusses ‘Christian ideals?’

  12. 12
    Rick says:

    I like your style, but I notice that you’ve recently become more personal in your scraps…

    CalDevil,

    My turn to suck up for once. I’ve been sparring–or girlie slapping–with John Cole for a couple months now over his latest emphases and interests, but there’s been nothing personal directly at me, or that I recognize towards others.

    Except for that incident a while ago that led him to take a break from blogging. Lasted maybe 25 seconds.

    Cordially…

  13. 13
    Jason says:

    Please John, tell us you’re not veering off into Sullivan territory.

    It’s worse than that… he’s leapfrogged Sullivan and is now veering into Oliver Willis territory.

    The last paragraph John wrote for this original post could have been lifted from any number of Willis entries over the last couple of years:

    Why do they hate America? Damn liberal media. Don’t they know a school opened today somewhere?

    Indeed. Heh.

  14. 14
    p.lukasiak says:

    geez, its must be really tough for you to be a thinking conservative nowadays, John. Not only do you get brickbats thrown at you by the right by refusal to bow to the current talking points orthodoxy, the people on the other side (like myself) will still question your sanity/intellectual honesty for making statements like “Those are legitimate questions, and you can come to your own conclusions. I still believe it was worth it, and I still believe a long term commitment is necessary and will be successful.

    Thus, although I do have to question your sanity/intellectual honesty for continuing to believe that “it was worth it”, I do applaud your willingness to at least consider the alternative! :)

  15. 15
    John Cole says:

    Jason-

    When Hugh Hewitt starts to apply his won standards to his writing as he demands of the media, I will stop bashing him and making fun of him usijng rhetoric that is indeed Oliveresque.

    And what is Hugh’s standard? Of course- all bad news must be balanced with an equal number of good news. So, for every hundred posts he writes bashing the ‘liberal’ media, he must have 100 posts praising them, even if there aren;t a hundred posts he agrees with.

    What, you say? That is stupid?

    I agree. Tell Hugh. And tell him to quit embarassing himself by being nothing more than an RNC suck-up.

  16. 16
    SeesThroughIt says:

    “Do you honestly believe that Hugh has any expectation that the MSM will give this admin and the GOP in congrees a pass in 06?”

    Out of curiosity, do any of you who hate the MSM so much honestly believe that said MSM will give a Democratic administration and/or congress a pass?

    (Hint: Of course not. But admitting as such would rupture the far-right’s meme of “liberal media bias.” John could not possibly be more correct when he says that these peopple want the media to be a GOP parrot.)

  17. 17
    Kimmitt says:

    What’s funny is that if you go to Daily Kos and read their criticism of the MSM, it sounds almost exactly like Glenn and Hugh’s.

    …ish. Reynolds is pretty obviously trying to work the refs, while Kos is generally asking the refs to, you know, call the game. They sound superficially similar, but there are some differences.

  18. 18
    Rick says:

    Advantage: Kos? Pffft!

    Cordially…

  19. 19
    caleb says:

    “underscores how difficult it is for the United States to succeed in the war on terror given the public’s media-driven demands for quick results and tied-up-in-bows conclusions.”

    I don’t think the media is to blame..

    Perhaps if the Bush administration didn’t go on before this whole war began about the “they will throw rose petals at us”, “we’ll be out in 6 months”, “The Iraqi oil will more than pay for this venture all by itself”, people would not have gotten this idea of Iraq excursion being a quicky.

    The administration has only themselves.

  20. 20
    Simon says:

    Damn caleb, you beat me to it! But you forgot the best one of all, the “cakewalk” comments.

    Even moreso, and I believe John has pointed this out here before, Bush has not once asked people to sacrifice in this time of war. Why should people think it was going to be tough when all they ever heard was “move along… and don’t stop spending!” and all they ever saw were arcade game scenes of brilliant armored vehicles driving through the night. For that, the press has something to answer for, but it’s part and parcel with the goals of this Administration.

  21. 21
    John Cole says:

    John — I just don’t understand why you give Glenn Reynolds a pass all the time.

    I like Glenn. He does his fair share of media bashing, but he doesn’t simply parrot the administration agenda on everything.

    The same can’t be said for Hugh- he reads like a Ken Mehlman/RNC/AFA press release. And the real shame about it is the guy is not an idiot-in fact, quite bright. Instead of using his considerable talents, he has chosen to be a shill for the company line, which is a real waste and a real source on intellectual dishonesty.

    Instead of thinking for himself once in a while, he has chosen to brand himself as nothing more than Limbaugh lite.

    And then there is the persecution complex…

    At any rate, while I agree with Glenn on a number of issues, and disagree with him on a bunch more, I know he thinks for himself.

    You don’t have to agree with him, but he picks and chooses his own agenda.

    As for me picking on Hugh- hardly. He doesn’t even know I exist.

    As for the social issues, of course I disagree with him on most of them, and the reason I choose him, as opposed to many others who parrot the same nonsense, is because he has the talking points down pat on every issue and serves as a source of disinformation.

    At any rate, the last couple of things I have commented on regarding Hugh have little to do with social issues, unless Iraq and his silly support of the Olympics in NY are now considered social issues.

  22. 22
    Far North says:

    Is anyone else sick and tired of that absurd conservative talking point: “the world is a better place without Saddam in power?”

    Yessireee, damn right! No doubt about it. Everyone but stupid liberals can see that.

    The world is a better place without Saddam in power. Therefore, the world is a better place without those 1660+ American soldiers who are now dead because they “liberated” Iraq and took Saddam out of power. And the world is better off for the 12,000+ injured Americans resulting from taking Saddam out of power. And the world is a better place now becasue tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead. The world is so much better off without those Iraqis and to prove it we won’t even try to count how many of them are dead. But Saddam is out of power.

    The world is a better place because America has spent $300 billion dollars taking Saddam out of power and spreading democracy around the Middle East. And if you think $300 billion bought a better world, just wait until we reach the trillion dollar mark in our never ending quest to keep Saddam out of power and spread democracy.

    And America is better off because our armed forces are stretched so thin that we won’t be able to respond to new threats around the world. But, Saddam is out of power

    The world is a better place without Saddam in power just like the world would be a better place if we dropped a nuclear bomb on Houston, Texas to make sure none of it’s citizens died from cancer.

    The world, and America, will be a better place as soon as the new century conservative understands that there is a terrible price to pay for war. That price is terrible even when the conservative isn’t asked to make a personal sacrifice.

    So, please conservative, no more of this “better world without Saddam” crap unless you are prepared to acknowledge the price of removing Saddam from power, even though you weren’t asked to sacrifice a damn thing.

  23. 23
    Rick says:

    please conservative, no more of this “better world without Saddam” crap unless you are prepared to acknowledge the price of removing Saddam from power, even though you weren’t asked to sacrifice a damn thing.

    Talking to me? I acknowledge the price, and since the world w/o Saddam is causing benenficial changes in the region–the “neocon” point, BTW–the hard calculus is running heavily on the plus side.

    Cordially…

  24. 24
    Barry says:

    ‘Hard calculus’? The Bush calculus probably is. The neo-con calculus: the ‘rice and flowers’, ‘cakewalk’, ‘down to 30 thousand troops by Sep’ lines aren’t being repeated much, and only the hard-core whack-jobs are still talking about whether to hit Syria or Iran next.

  25. 25
    CadillaqJaq says:

    I’m of the belief that “Cakewalk” is more of a liberal/Dem/MSM/anti-Bush term than anyone’s connected with the administration; Google Irag War.cakewalk.. read this article by Robert Novak, dated March 27, 2003 for a different POV.

    No Cakewalk

    WASHINGTON — “There were some who were supportive of going to war with Iraq who described it as a cakewalk,” Tim Russert told Donald Rumsfeld on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last Sunday. The secretary of Defense seemed surprised. “I never did,” he replied. “No one I know in the Pentagon ever did.”

  26. 26
    Rick says:

    …hard-core whack-jobs are still talking about whether to hit Syria or Iran next.

    Barry,

    Three divisions/three weeks–that’s a cakewalk.

    And in the hard calculus, the hope is that in so shaking the tree of the region’s contemptable “stability,” other fruit will fall.

    You just named a couple; we’ve already witnessed some others. Smells like victory. Or “light at the end of the tunnel,” if you’re among those who insist on not getting over 1968.

    Cordially…

  27. 27
    Simon says:

    I’m of the belief that “Cakewalk” is more of a liberal/Dem/MSM/anti-Bush term than anyone’s connected with the administration; Google Irag War.cakewalk.. read this article by Robert Novak, dated March 27, 2003 for a different POV.

    Well cadillac, I just googled “iraq cakewalk” and what do you know? The very first result was a Feb 13, 02, WaPo opinion piece by Ken Adelman of Project for a New American Century fame. You know, the NeoCon architects of the war. Not only is the column titled, “Cakewalk in Iraq”, but he gives us this wonderful paragraph:

    I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they’ve become much weaker; (3) we’ve become much stronger; and (4) now we’re playing for keeps.

    You can try to change history, but your belief here is simply incorrect.

  28. 28
    Rick says:

    It was rather a cakewalk (see three divisions/three weeks), and you’re not exactly demolishing the Cadillac with history.

    Re-read what his point is, to satisfy yourself.

    Cordially…

  29. 29
    Simon says:

    You can live in whatever dreamland you like, but if you considered the mission to be accomplished after 3 weeks, you’re kidding yourself. I guess that’s why our soldiers continue to die and we continue to spend billions on this war. It wasn’t over in 3 weeks and it ain’t over now. Honestly, what exactly happened after three weeks? The regime fell, yes, but ‘something’ definitely took it’s place and it’s effectively tying up the most advanced military in the world. Having our entire army tied down there means it isn’t over. Battles and wars and all that.

    No need to reread his point as I got it the first time. Just because Novak and Rumsfeld want to deny that Rumsfeld’s asst., Adelman, very explicitly called it a cakewalk in the runup and selling of the war doesn’t make it so. As far as the Dems pointing it out, they should. It wasn’t simply the cakewalk article, but the other ridiculous claims about financing the effort and the amount of troops and time we’d need. The Administration most definitely played down all those aspects.

  30. 30
    Rick says:

    Having our entire army tied down there means it isn’t over. Battles and wars and all that.

    Closer to 10%, and more civil affairs activities than “battles and wars.”

    Earth to “reality-based community.” Three divisions (plus the Brits) in three weeks.

    That is a cakewalk. Since Bush=Hitler, try this one: in 1939, it took the Germans and (a week or so later) Soviets, with dozens or hundreds of divisions on converging axes of invasion, four weeks to conquer Poland

    Cordially…

  31. 31
    UNCoRRELATED says:

    Fineman Fluster

    I just had occasion to read Howard Fineman’s article in Newsweek entitled “Was It Worth It?”, a rather obvious commentary on Iraq from the left-wing, liberal point of view. The Iraqis are benighted, incapable of sophisticated forms of self-governance l…

  32. 32
    UNCoRRELATED says:

    Fineman Fluster

    I just had occasion to read Howard Fineman’s article in Newsweek entitled “Was It Worth It?”, a rather obvious commentary on Iraq from the left-wing, liberal point of view. The Iraqis are benighted, incapable of sophisticated forms of self-governance l…

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  1. UNCoRRELATED says:

    Fineman Fluster

    I just had occasion to read Howard Fineman’s article in Newsweek entitled “Was It Worth It?”, a rather obvious commentary on Iraq from the left-wing, liberal point of view. The Iraqis are benighted, incapable of sophisticated forms of self-governance l…

  2. UNCoRRELATED says:

    Fineman Fluster

    I just had occasion to read Howard Fineman’s article in Newsweek entitled “Was It Worth It?”, a rather obvious commentary on Iraq from the left-wing, liberal point of view. The Iraqis are benighted, incapable of sophisticated forms of self-governance l…

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