Our View: Attack on media won’t change realities of war
President Bush and Vice President Cheney asserted Tuesday that the media is to blame for America’s growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq.
The primary claim is that the media, especially the television news operations, focuses too narrowly on the loss of life and other negative consequences of a war that has claimed more than 2,300 American lives and cost billions of dollars since 2003.
This latest assault in the war on terror, however, seems to be more of a diversion that is borne out of frustration. It also is a backhanded swipe at the intelligence of the American public.
When American troops invaded Iraq the news was almost all positive. News stations beamed live reports of U.S. troops toppling a large statue in Baghdad. President Bush’s elaborately staged declaration “mission accomplished” was front-page news across the country.
Since then even the administration’s most ardent supporters concede that the war has not gone as hoped. President Bush said Tuesday that he expects U.S. troops will remain in Iraq until at least the end of his second term in 2008.
In this case, the administration has become a victim of its own high expectations.
The administration, however, would like to see the media report more success stories with the hope that it would change the public’s perception of the war. Some conservative talk show hosts, like Rush Limbaugh, have suggested the reporters covering the war are cowards who dare not venture out into Iraq to find those positive stories.
Those critics, however, are overlooking the fact that 86 journalists have been killed while covering the war. Limbaugh, meanwhile, rants from the comfort of a radio station in the United States.
Finally, if Americans’ opinions are formed strictly by what they see on the television, they are limiting their access to information about the war. We now live in an age where there are abundant sources of information.
In addition to countless Web sites, bloggers, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, think tanks and televisions stations, we also have access to government sources thanks to the Internet. In addition, lawmakers and the White House have numerous ways to get their message out to the public.
Wars are inherently tragic. The administration should have anticipated when it launched this invasion.
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