Jun 24, 2004
Blame the Media
What was actually more shocking than watching Rumsfeld blame the media for Abu Ghraib was the fact that he did it at a press conference. With all of these reporters surrounding him, wondering why he had ordered a detainee hidden from the Red Cross in violation of the Geneva Conventions, he looked them right in the eye and essentially said, “We have done nothing wrong, it is all your fault.” And so it was slightly disheartening that the press reports emerging from that press conference made no mention of the lengthy speech. Well Wolfowitz appears to have seen Rumsfeld get away with it and tried his hand with the tactic - but the press isn’t taking it this time. Howie Kurtz, in his column entitled “Blaming the Media in Iraq”:Paul Wolfowitz is basically accusing journalists of cowardice.
In case you missed it, here’s what the deputy secretary of defense had to say this week on Capitol Hill:
“Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much, so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors.”
Before I tell you what I think, let me share some comments from an e-mail I received from former Pentagon spokesman Charles Krohn, a retired Army colonel:
“It’s bad enough that Wolfowitz makes such a statement. What’s worse is the motive of the person who put the bug in his ear. Having spent three months in the presidential palace in Iraq supporting the infrastructure reconstruction program, I worked closely with the media who worked closely with me…
“But when the insurgency started pushing news south, some of the same voices complained about the media’s falling down on the job. This is worse than hypocrisy; it’s scandalous. When senior officials express disappointment that schemes to manipulate the media aren’t working well, one might say it’s a triumph of principle over power. A truly professional public affairs staff could have worked out compromises. Unfortunately, the political dilettantes running the show were unable to rise to this level.”
Iraq isn’t black or white. It’s neither all good, nor all bad, but to argue, as Mr. Wolfowitz implicitly does that security and violence are not the major story, is about as correct as his argument to Congress that the reconstruction would be self financing and that Iraqis would welcome us with flowers.
Signatories of the Project for a New American Century dead in Iraq: 0
We commend the members of the free press who risk and give their lives to try to bring us a much-needed glimmer of truth.
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