"Rumsfeld Spanks Media
I was under the impression Rumsfeld's speech at the SAIS today was about Iraq - and it was. But sandwiched between a recitation of Bush's "stay the course" rhetoric from the other day was a classic Rumsfeldian rebuke of the media's coverage of the war:
The media serves a valuable -- indeed an indispensable -- role in informing our society and holding government to account. But I would submit it is also important for the media to hold itself to account.
We have arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to be so quickly taken as truth by the press and reported and spread around the world -- with little or no context or scrutiny -- let alone correction or accountability -- even after the fact. Speed it appears is often the first goal, not accuracy, not context.
Recently there were claims by two Iraqis on a speaking tour that U.S. soldiers threw them in a cage with lions. Their charges were widely reported -- still without substantiation. Not too long ago, there was a false and damaging story about a Koran supposedly flushed down a toilet, and in the riots that followed people were killed. And a recent New York Times editorial implied America’s armed forces -- your armed forces -- use tactics reminiscent of Saddam Hussein.
I understand that there may be great pressure on them to tell a dramatic story. And while it is easy to use a bombing or a terrorist attack to support a belief that Iraq is a failure, that is not the accurate picture. And further, it is not good journalism.
Consider this: You couldn’t tell the full story of Iwo Jima simply by listing the nearly 26,000 American casualties over about 40 days; or explain the importance of Grant’s push to Virginia just by noting the savagery of the battles. So too, in Iraq, it is appropriate to note not only how many Americans have been killed -- and may God bless them and their families -- but what they died for -- or more accurately, what they lived for.
So I suggest to editors and reporters -- whose good intentions I take for granted -- to do some soul searching. To ask: how will history judge -- if it does -- the reporting decades from now when Iraq’s path is settled?
I would urge us all to make every effort to ensure we are telling the whole story. To take a moment for self-reflection and reassessment."
The line about asking reporters to do some soul searching is brilliant. I lOVE how Rumsfeld is one of the only conservatives that takes the media to task. Brit Hume once aired a clip from Saturday Night Live about Rumsfeld. It was hilarious. It showed how the media was scared of Rumsfeld and how he just made mincemeat of them. It was great. In a perfect world W should take lessons and be a little more "Rumsfeld" when dealing with the media. I can always dream.