The media lads are quick to jump on their own planted questions, but I doubt they will pick up on this rather incisive remark from a soldier when Rumsfeld spoke in Mosul yesterday:
Q: Sir, how do we win the war in the media? It seems like that is the place where we’re getting beat up more than anybody else? I’ve been here – this is my third tour over here and we’ve done some amazing things. And it seems like the enemy’s Web sites and everything else, they’re all over the media and they love it. But the thing is everything we did good, no matter if it’s helping a little kid or building a new school, the public affairs sends out the message, but the media doesn’t pick up on it. How do we win the propaganda war?
It is not really the job of the DOD to win an internal propaganda war. Mr. Rumsfeld indicated his understanding of this in his answer. The press has a right to do what it is doing and nothing can or should be done about that side of the equation. On the other hand, every Yin must have its Yang. The one-sided nothingness of the old media universe begat the blogosphere in a balance restoring reaction.
Here on Samizdata, terrorists are named the enemy and coalition forces are our people. We make no bones about it, make no false pretentions of neutrality. I consult in Manhattan (I will be on that side of the Atlantic much of January) and DC; I grew up in small town Western Pennsylvania(*); people I know work or have worked in the Pentagon at low levels. Perry worked in the World Trade Center during one phase of his life. For us, neutrality is not an option. We and people we know and love are in the enemy’s crosshairs.
This does not mean we will give the State a pass on much of anything. You will find us solidly against most of the civil liberty undermining machinations in Congress. We do not believe in winning a war by turning America (or the UK here) into a prison camp. We believe in winning it by going out and killing the enemy.
* However I was born in Florida and most of the family is in the Carolinas. I therefore claim red-blooded American status. Besides which, the Western Pennsylvania towns and countryside where I grew up are pretty solidly Jacksonian.
EDITOR: For those who may be interested, here is the transcript of the original DOD Town Hall Meeting at which a soldier passed on a question for an embedded reporter. It has been much reported on since so I will not bore you with a rehash. Other DOD transcripts following the aforementioned cover the up-armouring issue in excruciating detail.