The Military and The Media


The divide grows

FALLUJAH, IRAQ: I've completed the first leg of the journey to Iraq, after having moved through Dubai, Kuwait and Baghdad. I am now at Camp Fallujah. While in Fallujah, I'll embed with a Marine Police Transition Team (PTT) and also meet with the Civil Affairs Group. The next stop will be Ramadi.

The trip - from my front door to Fallujah - took 3 ½ days, accounting for the 8 hour time shift between the East Coast and Iraq. This is remarkable considering Iraq is a war zone. I spent all of 35 minutes in the Green Zone getting my ID badge and another two hours waiting for a flight to Fallujah. Most of the time was spent waiting at military airbases, trying to catch that next flight out on a plane or helicopter.

During my movement to Fallujah, I was on 3 bases and one camp: At Ali Al Salem (Kuwait), BIAP (Baghdad International Airport), Camp Stryker, and LZ Washington (inside the Green Zone).

The travel is long, and it can be boring if you let it get to you. But you're surrounded by a bunch of soldiers, Marines and contractors that are also traveling, many of them alone. They are either coming back from or going on leave, or moving into or out of the region. Most of them are quite friendly and happy to strike up a conversation. This is an interesting time to speak to them, because they are not as engrossed in the daily grind of Iraq as they are when I see them while I'm embedded. Here is a brief overview of some of the discussions I had with those I met while shuttling around Kuwait and Iraq.

Ali Al Salem:

At the transient tent (where you get to sleep and store your gear while waiting), I spoke to an Explosive Ordinance and Demolitions (EOD) contractor. These are the guys that blow up the leftover explosives and munitions from the Saddam era. He told me about how the media isn't telling the full story about the nature of the enemy, and specifically complained about the manipulation and distortion of the Kay report. He said he's run across bunkers and the equipment and chemical precursors to WMD buried in the deserts of western Iraq.

During a smoke break, an Army private discussed his time in Balad. He said mortars (which are blind-fired) are the greatest threat his unit faces. Not IEDs, I asked? Nope. While waiting to board the flight to BIAP, a Marine Major complained about how the progress in western Iraq has virtually gone unnoticed, and was furious over the characterization of the Devlin report on Anbar province. I gave him my card.

BIAP:

I had the pleasure being the only person on the shuttle bus from BIAP to Camp Stryker, and the driver, an Army specialist, struck up a conversation with me. I needed a SIM chip for my cell phone so I could call the States and in Iraq, so he took me across the base on some extremely bumpy roads looking for a place that sold them. During the drive, he explained his forays into Sadr City, how the residents were largely hostile to U.S. forces, and some engagements he's encountered. Yet he spoke admirably of the Iraqi people. He said they were hard working and willing to fight, and hoped we wouldn't abandon the Iraqi people.

We couldn't find an open store that sold the SIM chip, so he kindly offered to give me his as he knew I was desperate. I paid him for the card and a little extra to call home. He said he'll get a new card tomorrow.

Camp Stryker:

While waiting to catch the flight to the Green Zone, I spoke to two Army captains, one who works in Civil Affairs, the other with the Military Transition Teams. Both explained how the situation could look very different based on your job, but that the Iraqi police and Army were making real progress. They said the Iraqis' skills ranged from poor to excellent, but they always saw improvement.

I also overheard an Army specialist sitting behind me curse the media (and I mean curse), saying they didn't know what they were talking about when it came to Iraq. I talked to him, and explained I'm considered a reporter, and that I won't argue with his points. I made him uncomfortable. Had he known I was 'the press' I think he would have kept it to himself.

LZ Washington:

While waiting to manifest on the flight to Fallujah, CNN played a news segment of President Bush announcing there would be no "graceful exit" from Iraq, and that we'd stay until the mission was complete. Two sergeants in the room cheered. Loudly. They then scoffed at the reports from Baghdad, and jeered the balcony reporting.

In nearly every conversation, the soldiers, Marines and contractors expressed they were upset with the coverage of the war in Iraq in general, and the public perception of the daily situation on the ground. They felt the media was there to sensationalize the news, and several stated some reporters were only interested in "blood and guts." They freely admitted the obstacles in front of them in Iraq. Most recognized that while we are winning the war on the battlefield, albeit with difficulties in some areas, we are losing the information war. They felt the media had abandoned them.

During each conversation, I was left in the awkward situation of having to explain that while, yes, I am wearing a press badge, I'm not 'one of them.' I used descriptions like 'independent journalist' or 'blogger' in an attempt to separate myself from the pack.

What a terrible situation to be in, having to defend yourself because of your profession. I've always said that the hardest thing about embedding (besides leaving my family) is wearing the badge that says 'PRESS.' That hasn't changed. I hide the badge whenever I can get away with it.

This isn't the first time I encountered this sentiment from the troops. I experienced this attitude from the Marines while I was in western Iraq last year, and the soldiers in the Canadian Army in Afghanistan also expressed frustration with the media's presentation of the war.

Perhaps this tension between the media and the military is nothing new. But it appalls me none the less.







If you have enjoyed reading this post from Iraq, please consider donating to support this embed. Or, if you are not comfortable with PayPal and wish to send a check, email me at billroggio@gmail.com and I will send you an address.



Advertisement:


READER COMMENTS: "The Military and The Media"

Posted by Mark at December 3, 2006 10:36 PM ET:

I've long said that the U.S. is fighting many enemies/problems in Iraq and the international and U.S. media is one of those problems.

Posted by Micajah at December 3, 2006 11:33 PM ET:

Oops, left my wallet upstairs. Great job so far. I'll be back.

Posted by the crog at December 4, 2006 12:25 AM ET:

Hello Bill. I had to check the site one more time before going to bed. So good to get your first report - and know you are safe tonight. I went to my first Army-Navy game on Saturday, and thought about how the long lines of Middies and Cadets are the future of the American military. Also, how brave they are to become officers in these hard times. Just about every one of them will be in harm's way in the next 5 years. I thought of you lots, too. There were many messages from the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I knew you were to be there among them.

Sat on the Navy side - half guiltily. We have 3 generations of soldiers on my side of the family. Well, your Marines had a good day.

Stay safe. We miss you loads already. Mom

Posted by Matt Lexow U.S. Army ret at December 4, 2006 5:17 AM ET:

Go get em, Bill. And, thanks!

Posted by Angel at December 4, 2006 9:33 AM ET:

Great report. You certainly got off to a good start. I don't read this info in the newspapers or see it on the news. Glad you are there to inform us. Stay safe and our prayers are with you.

Posted by Sarka - Master Sergeant (Retired) at December 4, 2006 11:04 AM ET:

Nice report, Bill. I've always appreciated your honesty and straight-forward reporting. I hear the same type things from my son, a Marine Infantryman in Western Iraq, and my other friends stationed there. Hopefully, people like yourself can bridge the gap and relieve some of the mis-trust between the military and the media. All of the negative publicity overshadows all of the good that is going on over there, too. It makes our military personnel feel like their efforts and sacrifices are unappreciated. All they ask for is some fair reporting on the "rest of the story" of Iraq. Stay safe and thank you.

Posted by Anand at December 4, 2006 1:13 PM ET:

Regarding Lisa's comment, Bill aren't the vast majority of sectarian killings in Baghdad and Diyala? Unfortunatlely, since the February 2006 Samarra mosque bombing, a cycle of revenge killing has brokent out. [Until February, the situation in Iraq was improving gradually.] As Abizaid said, by far the main threat to Iraq is sectarian killing.

In Al Anbar, there is much less sectarian violence. There is a sunni arab insurgency against what is seen as a Shia and Kurdish led and Iranian influenced Iraqi government and their US backers. (Hard though it may be to believe, many Al Anbar insurgents attack Marines partly to get at Khomenei and Sadr.) In addition, there is a war between nationalist sunni arabs and Al-Qaeda in Iraq (and their assorted Takfiri, and Salafi extremist backers).

Bill, glad to hear that the Marines remain spirited and optimistic. RCT 5 has done an amazing job improving the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and facilitating greater normalcy for locals.

Posted by DJ Elliott at December 4, 2006 7:44 PM ET:

I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are.
William T. Sherman
---
If I had my choice I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from Hell before breakfast.
William T. Sherman
---
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/william_t_sherman.html

Posted by CharlesC at December 4, 2006 10:20 PM ET:

Blaming the media again... The casualty toll in Iraq on a population adjusted basis is twice that of the Lebanese Civil War but this is not a "civil war". That is merely the invention of the media. The fact that thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of US soldiers are being killed and wounded every month is a media invention. The most telling thing about the level of safety is that most of the media is scared to death of leaving their hotel or the Green Zone. That tells you something.

Posted by Mike at December 4, 2006 10:29 PM ET:

{{The casualty toll in Iraq on a population adjusted basis is twice that of the Lebanese Civil War but this is not a "civil war".}}

Says who, the same AP reporters that made up the "six burned Sunnis drivel".

Posted by CharlesC at December 4, 2006 10:38 PM ET:

Mike:

100,000 were killed in a 15 year Lebanese Civil War. That equates to about 18 per day. The population of Iraq is about 6 times the population of Lebanon. With the same casualty toll, about 110 would be dying per day. Lately, it has been about 200 per day. Civilian casualties are at least comparable to the Lebanese Civil War. Lebanese Civil War casualties also include combatants. We are not hearing about how many Shiite and Sunni combatants are being killed.

Posted by Mike at December 4, 2006 10:51 PM ET:

Charles, during Lebanons civil war there was a complete collapse of that nations society and rival armies and governments fought for control of the country. In Iraq there is sectarian violence in four of the 15 provinces. The democratically elected government still exerts control everywhere. To compare the two is simplistic.

The death toll in Iraq is unclear given the demonstrated lack of accuracy in the press and the fact that certain groups in Iraq (the Sadarists that run the health ministry) have reason to inflae casualty counts.

Posted by Mike at December 4, 2006 10:54 PM ET:

Charles, your analysis is also confounded by the lack of a recent census for lebanon, its population now and during the civil war is uncertain.

Posted by Doc McB at December 4, 2006 10:57 PM ET:

Hey Bill,
I am a corpsman with the 3/25 Marines while you were with us in Haditha in 2005 and I've followed your reports since. I enjoy reading your reports, especially because I am interested to hear that we didn't wasting our blood, sweat, and tears that we left behind in the Anbar province in 2005. Keep up the good work (telling it like it is) and stay safe!

Posted by CharlesC at December 4, 2006 11:54 PM ET:

Mike:

100,000 is the estimate of dead during the Lebanese Civil War. I have no idea how it was reached but that is the estimate you read in most places. In Lebanon, most of the places were peaceful most of the time. The places that saw most of the bloodshed were areas where muslim areas and Christian areas were close to each other. That is kinda like the 4 provinces in Iraq. They are where Sunnis and Shiites intersect. I know the comparison is not exact. No Civil Wars are exactly the same but the level of bloodshed is very similar if not worse in Iraq. Even if it isn't a "Civil War", it still is a huge mess. The media has to tell you what is going on. I recently asked a friend who returned from iraq if Iraq was as bad as it looked on tv and he said "much worse than you see on TV". This guy in no liberal either. I have nothing against people in uniform fighting the war but the situation is a mess and has to be recognized for what it is.

Posted by Mike at December 5, 2006 12:15 AM ET:

Charles C,

If Jamaica were the size of Iraq it would have about 40 murders a day, therefore its only a few fold less violent than Iraq but is clearly not in civil war.

As Bill points out in his blog, many in Iraq say the press paints a very distorted picture. Is it messy and violent? sure, is it worse than pre OIF? doubtfull.

Posted by Kemper at December 5, 2006 12:27 AM ET:

Bill, if you stop by LSA Anaconda, come to DPW and say hi to a loyal reader.

Posted by DebbieK at December 5, 2006 12:51 AM ET:

CharlesC, Noone is trying to say that the situation in Iraq is not difficult and dangerous. What you are doing is a typical reaction to any criticism of press reporting from Iraq. When people (military on the ground, bloggers, independent reporters, etc) say that the main stream media reporting is often inaccurate or paints a distorted picture of the truth on the ground in Iraq, you, like many others will jump to say "blaming the media again" and continue on to say that things are horrible in Iraq as if those who question some of the media's reporting don't realize the situation there! Of course there are unfortunately significant numbers of people being killed in very brutal ways in Iraq right now, we are all well aware of that. Those deaths are heavily reported, often being the ONLY thing reported in a given day's news.
But there are two very legitimate complaints that can be made about that press coverage. The first is that there is documented evidence that there are significant inaccuracies in reporting from the Middle East coming from news sources like the AP and Reuters because of their use of stringers and other local sources that may have agendas of their own, beyond objective reporting. If you are unaware of these inaccuracies then you need to do some research Bilal Hussein and Jamil Hussein. Such inaccuracies, and the press' generally hostile attitude towards those who bring them up, only serve to undermine any trust that objective readers and viewers have in the overall reporting coming from the Middle East in general and Iraq in particular.
The second complaint that is legitimate to make about the reporting coming from Iraq is the reporting on all those deaths is only a small part of the entire story of Iraq. Rarely do we hear or read about the many successes that both our military and the Iraqi forces are having against the bad guys. I can go to the DoD websites and read each day about bad guys rounded up and killed, caches of weapons found and kidnapped folks freed by the coalition forces, but it is very rare that I read about those same successes in my local paper. Imagine, if you will, reading about an ongoing basketball game. Each score by Team A is reported, but very few of the scores by Team B is mentioned. After an hour of such reporting you'd surely think that Team A is winning...After all, they just keep on scoring right? But in reality it is possible that Team B might be winning, or at least be tied...you just haven't even heard about any of their scores. And that is just one aspect of the situation in Iraq. Reporting about the subtleties of the Iraqi political scene are glossed over in our press - I read far better summaries and explanations of the mindsets of the different players in Iraq from a wire I get from Radio Free Europe than I do from any mainstream source. And of course there is the complete absence of reporting from any areas which have remained stable and have less violence. Again, an analogy could be made to your local paper reporting on the biggest city nearby. If all you got to read were the crime reports, you'd be afraid to even head into town. But your paper covers a lot more than that, so you know that, although there are some areas of town you should stay out of at night because of the potential for violence there, for the most part the city is safe.
My overall point is simply this. There are fair criticisms to be made about the way some things have been handled during this war. There are many lessons learned and our military is always trying to adjust its tactics. There is no doubt that the situation on the ground in some parts of the country is very dangerous, very volatile, and not the way any of us would hope it would be. But that is not the whole picture of Iraq, and without the whole picture, the American people are having to pass judgment on the war with a handicap. that handicap is the press', at best, inability, and at worst, willful refusal to accurately and completely cover the story of Iraq.

Posted by Michael at December 5, 2006 3:43 AM ET:

Bill,

Great beginning, glad your safe and let the soldiers know how much we love them and thank them.

Well, just let them know there are millions of us here still on their side and know they are winning!

CharlesC, it is a WAR.

The problem with the Media, which the soldiers are complaining about is equal and fair coverage! All they're asking is please give the same amount of Video Face Time to their SUCCESSES and when they WIN in battles, capturing, killing and defeating the enemy, rescuing Iraqi hostages, and healing the sick, clothing the poor, bringing justice to a people who have not had it for centuries. Literally rebuilding a nation.

This is not some international debate on CNN of whether we're right or wrong. We're at war. These are our sons and daughters at war. Our media at the very least should show the positives and the victories each day our soldiers make! The only thing you get is a small dribble of letters rolling across screen, "two terrorist killed..."

Well, that is misleading. It is an Omission of the Truth. Daily, they kill and capture many more, plus so many other actions.

We do not need cheerleaders, but they need to give victories equal time. Report the suicide bombers for what they are. These acts are disgusting. Why do our "politically correct" news media talking heads not state the obvious? Murderers and thugs! Report our soldiers for what they're doing every day which is literally freeing people in town after town from these thugs. Report the fact that our soldiers are fighting an evil enemy that kills innocents every day whereas our soldiers are only going after the enemy, trying to protect the innocent.

Is it perfect? No. Are there areas that are against the troops, most certainly. But the vast majority respect and welcome them for their help and protection.

If the media behaved the way it did today back in WWII, we would have stopped on the beaches of Normandy after day one. John Wayne, James Stewart, Bob Hope, Bing, so many others all pulling for our sons and daughters!

The whole nation was together and the media was fully behind our soldiers. You saw a movie, you saw news footage preruns of our troops winning! Announcing both victory and losses, pushed back and pushed forward.

Today, you hear nothing about the capture and killing of the enemy by our boys! It is a one-sided street and demoralizing to the public, as well as our military "VOLUNTEERS." No one was drafted, they all volunteered.

We kill and capture on a 50:1, 100:1 ratio. Yet you never here these events in our media as "Major Defeats" for the enemy. For example in Afghanistan? Or when we capture 20 and kill 15 in Iraq? No, they focus 90% on the murderous events from the enemy.

It happens every single week! So naturally, the mass of people think we're losing.

This is why it is so significant to get first hand accounts and feedback from the troops and a first hand look at what is happening in theatre by brave independent reportors like Bill.

Bill is reenacting the very act of heroic reporters before him that went into the field during WWII. They reported the blooshed in WWII, but they also reported the truth of our boys winning in WWII. They reported the accurate killing and capturing of the enemy. And they reported the events unfolding. Based on his last coverage he is unbiased and reports all sides.

What is so difficult about that concept? Reporting the success and winning of our military along with their setbacks?

That is clearly what is lacking today in our media. We are getting only one perspective the majority of time. Even Fox News is letting us down now in my opinion with a scroll and not much more.

You know your in trouble with the media when companies like CNN made deals with Saddam on how they would portray him and his country. That should be considered treasonous.

Do you think CutNruN made similar deals with our military leaders? "Hey, we'll run all these stories by you first to get a check off just to make sure you allow us to stay in Iraq." "Oh and we won't tell the Amerian public that we're doing it!!!"

Anyone see a problem here? We were lied to by CNN thru omission of facts in how they work with the Tyrant of the past.

The AP today is fighting and putting down our military more today than they do an evil fanatical enemy that routinely blows up innocent women and children. They called what our military said about one of their supposed stringers a "ludicrous" assertion.

I like a free media. One that questions our military and our civilian leaders. But I find them in contempt of the American values when they in fact support the enemy more by actions of their coverage which does not shine light on the successes our military makes in Iraq and Afghanist every single day.

Godspeed Bill and thanks again.

Posted by Dick Stanley at December 5, 2006 7:23 AM ET:

Nice work, already. Keep your head down.

Posted by nbpundit at December 5, 2006 8:28 AM ET:

Bill:
Keep up the good work, and prayers are
being said to keep you safe and successful
in your embedment.
Many many thanks to our service guys and
gals for their part in making Iraq a better
and safer place so that America will stay
so too.

Posted by Maggie45 at December 5, 2006 9:03 AM ET:

Bill, thank you. I'm so grateful that there are still people like you in this world today.

Posted by WB at December 5, 2006 9:50 AM ET:

Bill, God Speed and keep up the good work. Without reporters like you all we would have back home is the sickening MSM lies and distortions.

Wild Bill (WB)

Posted by alphonse at December 5, 2006 9:56 AM ET:

If you make another tag to go under your press badge, saying "not an Ahole like the rest" or something like that it might get you not just laughs and goodwill, but more and deeper matl for news stories. (I suggest using the proper spelling for Ahole, but I'm not familiar with your posting guidelines)

Posted by Richard R at December 5, 2006 11:00 AM ET:

Alphonse (just above) is right, you need a suplimental tag. I suggest "New Media BLOGGER." Some will get it right away, some will ask (and turn into good conversations) Just put it higher on your strap so it doesn't dissappear behind the main tag.

Posted by Chris at December 5, 2006 11:27 AM ET:

You people you are debating civil war vs. no civil war are behind the times. Iraq is beyond civil war, its a failed state.

Thats much worse BTW.

Posted by Michael Fumento at December 5, 2006 11:30 AM ET:

God speed and stay safe, Bill. When you get to Ramadi, say hi to Maj. Megan McClung for me. If I can be of any help and you didn't bring my email, it's fumento@pobox.com.

BTW, you may run into TNR's Lawrence Kaplan there. He indicated he's going over soon.

Airborne!

Mike

Posted by willis at December 5, 2006 11:36 AM ET:

"The most telling thing about the level of safety is that most of the media is scared to death of leaving their hotel or the Green Zone. That tells you something."

It does tell us something CharlesC. They are cowards as well as traitors!

Posted by jensad at December 5, 2006 11:56 AM ET:

The article was excellent. Just goes to prove that the media (1) has not changed since Vietnam and (2) the media is one of the real enemies in Iraq.

Posted by Mike at December 5, 2006 12:03 PM ET:

Charles C said:

{Civilian casualties are at least comparable to the Lebanese Civil War. Lebanese Civil War casualties also include combatants. We are not hearing about how many Shiite and Sunni combatants are being killed.}

This analysis neglects the strong possibility that "civilian" casualties reported by the AP are infact combatants but the terrorist associated stringers of the western media call them civilians to turn battle field defeats into propaganda wins.

Posted by smaj at December 5, 2006 12:16 PM ET:

Good Luck and God Speed to you Bill. Your courage astounds me; you and others like Michael
Fumento; Michael Totten, Jules Crittenden,Michael Yon, etal. are heroes in your own right.

Tell our brave fighting soldiers & warriors that we will continue to support them unconditionally and fight the fight here, that being our mainstream media.

Posted by Peter at December 5, 2006 1:05 PM ET:

Stop blaming the media. It was the Pentagon civilian leadership who claimed before the American public that this exercise would be relatively painless and cheap.

Can you blame the American people for feeling a bit misled? We are ready to believe that progress is being made in Iraq, and that things are improving, but I don't think anyone can claim at this point that operation Iraqi freedom is a "cakewalk" or "paying for itself"!

Posted by CM at December 5, 2006 1:40 PM ET:

If things are going great in Iraq or are improving, then why isn't the U.S. bringing troops home to reflect that fact?

Posted by Lou at December 5, 2006 2:01 PM ET:

I have a cousin who is a captain in the Marines at Camp Corregidor in Ramadi. He says training the Iraq military is going very well. I will be following your reports - good luck and stay safe.

Posted by Steve at December 5, 2006 2:41 PM ET:

Peter,
Recommend you read DebbieK's post above.

Posted by cjr at December 5, 2006 3:00 PM ET:

Peter:
Didnt you parents teach you that two wrongs dont make a right?

Whether the civilian leadership is right or wrong, it doesnt justify the media's extremely poor reporting. Either way, they deserve some "blame".

Posted by Justin B at December 5, 2006 3:48 PM ET:

Good Luck Bill. Meant to call you before you left, but know how crazy things get. We are praying for your safe return.

Posted by Papa Ray at December 5, 2006 3:54 PM ET:

The reason there are so many troops over in Iraq is that the Military has a tail that is twenty times as long as it's head.

It's only the head that goes out on patrols, sweeps and hunts. While the rest of the Military is inside the wire, in bases. Some bases in Iraq now qualify as "Mega-Bases", as large as some bases in the U.S. and Europe.

IMHO that is part and parcel one of the biggest problems we have with our Military. We have a few thousand that are actually out among the Iraqis and most of the rest never will ever see Iraq, except for the base that they are housed in.

The Marines stuck out in the sand of "The Wild West" or the roving Stryker Patrols, the Lone Army Outposts and the SOF are doing the work and braving the dangers. But there are too few of them.

While thousands, upon thousands of U.S. troops do their jobs inside the wire.

It took a lot of troops and others to support our Military during WWII, but the numbers needed in the Rear Area has grown until it's not only feeding on itself, its eating the real Warriors.

Papa Ray
West Texas
USA

Posted by Papa Ray at December 5, 2006 4:17 PM ET:

For those of you who follow the news from Iraq via the MSM, it seems that we have been getting the News from the Enemy.

Papa Ray

Posted by MaryAnn at December 5, 2006 4:52 PM ET:

Bill,



I can understand in my own small way your feeling awkward, and I'm so very sorry to hear it. Wearing a Press badge is of course far worse than being a civilian, but I have felt awkward as a civilan nonetheless.



The day after CNN aired the sniper videos I was standing in a hospital room where two injured Soldiers and a Marine lay in their beds. When one of the Soldiers mentioned he'd been shot by a sniper, I started to mention the video.



They all interrupted me to say they'd seen it.



So these three guys who had spent the previous 72 hours getting shot/blown up, having surgeries, and being medevaced to Germany, had already seen the video.



This was not the first time I've had this experience. I meet many troops here. But the juxtaposition of these two events stunned me.



As a civilian I felt more than awkward - I felt ashamed. More ashamed than I have ever felt in my life. Ashamed that We The People have let this happen. Ashamed that while they are out there putting their lives on the line for us, we are allowing our media to run amok.



There was no animosity on their part towards me, of course. My shame was my own.



In fact, they demonstrated very little animosity whatsoever. The Marine actually commented, "The funny thing is, I'm laying here in this bed because I was defending their right to broadcast that $#it."



Well, I didn't think it was "funny" at all.



I was furious. I am furious right now just thinking about it, and I've been furious for the past couple of years.



I'm old enough to remember what happened during VN. It is happening again, and we simply cannot allow it. We must not. No matter what it takes.



Stay safe, Bill, and God bless.

Posted by MaryAnn at December 5, 2006 4:58 PM ET:

... well, I guess I didn't need all those html page break tags. Apologies for all the white space.

Posted by LJ at December 5, 2006 7:23 PM ET:

Bill, I am unfamiliar with your reporting. I do not know that your fan base is accurately represented by those commenting in your blog.

The majority of opinions above seem to be that you are the only guy telling the truth that the MSM is getting it all wrong and you are the only one telling us that things are not going all that bad.

I read your piece as reporting what these soldiers said without drawing many conclusions. One possibility besides the one pushed by you fans is that these soldiers don't see the bigger picture despite their closeness to the war. I frankly do not know. It would be helpful to me if you would bring your perspective to resolve the dicotomy between the "negative" reporting and the government sponsored story.

I will look forward to more of your reporting.

Posted by Soldier's Dad at December 5, 2006 9:32 PM ET:

LJ,

"The majority of opinions above seem to be that you are the only guy telling the truth that the MSM is getting it all wrong and you are the only one telling us that things are not going all that bad."

My mother is a journalist(50+ years). Journalists report events, not processes. My mother will be the first to tell you that". Any honest journalist will also tell you that.

Whenever a new school or road is built, a groundbreaking ceremony is held. The journalists dutifully report the ground breaking on "Famous Person Elementary School". They also dutifully report everything that didn't go exactly to plan. Try to find an article about some public works project that says "Today, the plumbers installed the toilets at Famous Person Elementary, all went well"...doesn't exist. Yet virtually all "Famous Person Elementary Schools" have working toilets. Finally, they report on the "Grand Opening" of "Famous Person Elementary School".

Building a nation is a process...no different really than building "Famous Person Elementary School". Yes, the problems are more serious, but as a logical way of looking at it, it is the same. The concrete is never as level as it should have been, the pipes are never aligned properly. Someone always has to go in with a jackhammer and tear something out and redo it.
The roof always leaks the first rain. Eventually it is all fixed, and the school opens.


Posted by arch at December 6, 2006 8:33 AM ET:

Bill.

Glad there's someone who will tell the ground truth. You obviously understand the troops' collective disappointment with the MSM.

In Vietnam in 1972, we developed a healthy distain for members of the press. They showed up with their 1/2 spiral notebooks and tape recorders. Usually, we ignored them. Once a pilot down from Korea gave brief interview with Newsweek in the step van on the way to maintenance debrief. Three weeks later, the article had one fact, the pilot's name. Every other word was a fabrication. If there was a camera crew filming us taxiing, the frontseater would give the peace symbol. We backseaters shot them the bird.

In San Salvador in 1981, the reporters were holed up in their version of the green zone - the Camino Real hotel. (At least they had a decent bar.) A waiter would whisper to a journalist who would then dash off the get his story from a nervous, hat-in-hand peasant. The countryside was far too dangerous for reporters. As in Iraq today, they did not want us to win and reported rumors as fact.

Glad your Mom enjoyed the fourth consecutive Blue & Gold win. Go Navy, Beat Army.

Posted by Kelly at December 6, 2006 8:40 AM ET:

Bill,
Good Luck and stay safe. As far as the animosity on behalf of the troops...I don't think anyone in the media should really expect any different. Until military members become comfortable with your presence, they'll likely react in the same manner. As far as the specialist... consider his age as an overwhelming factor. He was likely too young and too narrow minded to form an original opinion. As a general rule we (Americans) consume media poorly. That is to say, we look at single sources rather than multiple sources. Let's face it the media doesn't have anything good to say about Iraq. For the passed several months the news has been framed to prepare Americans to fully accept the concept of all out civil war in Iraq. Even if a journalist wrote a story that was all good news, his or her editor is going to look for the bad news to sell their product. At the end of the day it's all about the bottom line. Don't forget that military members have been duped too many times by reporters who say they are here to write a good story only to slam them in the press. I say all this not as an arm-chair quarterback, but rather as someone who you likely crossed paths with during your last trip. Let's face it, you and I both know it is worse in Iraq and especially around Baghdad now than a year ago and worse yet than two years ago. However troops are still busting their butts everyday to try to make things better. The media gives them very little credit for their accomplishments. I know you answer to an editor, but if you give those with whom you embed some long deserved credit, it'll go a long way.

Posted by apcutter at December 7, 2006 10:34 PM ET:

Wow! Finially some REAL news about what is happening over there. I read militaryspot and blackfive regularly. Please keep the news coming about IRAQ. I am so nervous about our country and the troops.
Please pass on a message to all our troops for me, WE ARE WITH YOU and KNOW THAT THE MEDIA IS NOT TELLING ALL OF THE STORY. PLEASE STAY SAFE FOR US. WE NEED YOU AND WANT YOU TO STAY SAFE.
WE KNOW YOU ARE ALL DOING A GREAT JOB.

Please - We need to all oontact PRES.BUSH and let him know we support the war and want our country to finish what it started . He is getting hammered by his own party and country.
This is one of the men that seems to get it.
He knows how dangerous these people are. The rest of our leaders have gone to "OZ LAND". Somehow we all have got to help stay on Pres.Bush's side to show unity there. This singing "let's all get along " with the Iranians and the Syrian's will get us all killed. Like swimming with a great white shark and thinking he won't bother us as long as we swim along with him. I don't think so!

Posted by rocketsciencedad at December 8, 2006 12:46 AM ET:

Bill, God bless you and protect you and our troops.
In answer to the question of Iraq being a civil war, it would be so much easier if it was. We could pick a side and with our men, aircraft, technology, and logistics we could end the war in a few days. With so many different factions and even individuals who may have a grudge or think they can profit from a kidnapping things get very complex. Still, since most people are not involved, patience (perhaps many years) would result in a stable government in Iraq. Even in South Vietnam, the insurgency (Viet Cong) was defeated as a threat to the government - people forget (and are never informed by the press) that it was taken by a conventional external invasion by a million man army with hundreds of tanks. A failed state is more accurate, but that would be only in certain parts of the nation. There are parts of major US cities that at times could have been considered "failed states." Since the press does not give us a clear picture of what is going on and, in many cases, intentionally misleads us with their labels, we are trying as a nation to solve the wrong problems.

Posted by Firefighter 16 at December 8, 2006 1:48 AM ET:

It's funny that even after hundreds of war stories told by the Associated (with terrorists) Press have been proven to be just that, 'war stories' purchased from the terrorists by the AP some people still believe and even defend a lying news source.
I read all of the news I can locate that comes streight from the boots on the ground. We won the war in Vietnam and lost the victory two years later due to lies by the antique MSM aided by traitors like Hanoi John and Hanoi Jane.

Looking forward to daily, truthful news from 'the man' with boots on the ground. Someone was correct, the antique MSM could get the truth the same way, boots on the ground but they're too cowardly to leave the Green Zone. That may be a smart move now, I've recommended for months that every reporter caught in the field be shot on the spot. Payback for the lies already told.

Posted by DRJ at December 8, 2006 6:20 PM ET:

When you said it's terrible to have to defend yourself because of your profession, I thought you were talking about the military men and women. Instead, you were talking about yourself as a journalist.

I think your comment works both ways and it's usually the military personnel who end up the most frustrated rather than the journalists.

Posted by Ex CT1 at December 9, 2006 6:03 AM ET:

Bill:
Thanks for your honest reporting. Stay safe and keep your head down.

God bless you and keep you,

Posted by Ymarsakar at December 9, 2006 12:38 PM ET:

Bill R, if you want to separate yourself from the "pack", tell them that you are an American first, a journalist second. That you are a loyal defender of the US Constitution, from all enemies, whether domestic reporters or foreign terrorists. This "blogger and independent reporter" title, doesn't really say anything.