Monday, May 23, 2005


Psychological Effect Of Media War Coverage

Instilling cowardice, inverting honor, inviting defeat

In a superb post, Wretchard describes the effect the media's ability to shape public perception is having on the war: is nearly undeniable that the effect of the media's coverage of American misdeeds has been to make the slightest infraction against enemy combatants ruinously expensive. Not only the treatment of the enemy combatants themselves, but their articles of religious worship have become the subject of such scrutiny that Korans must handled with actual gloves in a ceremonial fashion, a fact that must be triumph for the jihadi cause in and of itself. While nothing is wrong with ensuring the proper treatment of enemy prisoners, the implicit moral superiority that has been accorded America's enemy and his effects recalls Rudyard Kipling's The Grave of the Hundred Dead.
But if the US has been at pains to avoid the image of ruthlessness, the enemy by contrast has made a special effort to magnify his brutality by attacking mosques, beheading women, mutilating children, etc. often on camera. And the really disappointing thing it is that the intended intimidation works. If George Galloway's standard response to his critics is a lawsuit and radical Islam's first recourse is a fatwa then terror's first answer to insult is always the Grave of a Hundred Dead. Intimidation brings them respect from the very people who style themselves immune to intimidation. It is plain to the lowliest stringer from the most obscure tabloid that to insult America is cheap but to insult the local 'militants' very, very expensive. Kipling's cynical dictum is proven again and the lesson not forgotten.

We live in a strange world where the Beslan story vanishes in weeks while Abu Ghraib lives on for years. Maybe it reflects the inherent importance of the stories but it more probably demonstrates the media's ability to prolong the life of some stories while ignoring others. I hope it is not impertinent to observe that the media's demeanor towards terrorism bears more than a passing resemblance to cheap cowardice; but though outwardly similar it really springs from a high-minded idealism, deep courage and profound learning. Or so I hope.
I hold out hope that media behavior is attributable to spite, though I fear more and more they truly are a fifth column. At the very least, it is clear that they eagerly function as public relations agents of the jihadis, something which has to end.

Wretchard's whole post is worth reading in its entirety and there are several interesting items in the comments section. Among them:
Standards of behaviour are totally one sided. On the US side actions that rise to the level of Frat pranks are considered "Human Rights" violations, while beheadings performed by Jihadists are considered to be political statements worthy of consideration.
Foriegn mercenaries in Iraq, that attack civilians as a matter of course, are called Insurgents. US troops are chastised for 'collateral' damage done in Fallujah and are criminally investigated for killing the enemy in the combat zone. - Desert Rat

This is most certainly part of the psychological warfare against the US by the enemy (and sadly, I would have to include our own media in the definition of "enemy" - see A Headline We'll Never See if you are interested in my thoughts on that)...
In other words, we cannot possibly win the psychological war with the current media controlling and defining all the events. Either we must ignore that media completely, or provide an alternative (e.g., the blogsphere?) or, do both. - Dr. Sanity

Look in your local paper for whose ads are on the pages where our military is attacked. Contact those businesses and let them know how you feel about them supporting such attacks. (Most front-page stories are continued where there is room for ads.) Watch your local news reports and contact sponsors that are used when reports are just plan wrong. Spend a bit of time to watch the network news, read the NY Times, etc. and contact the businesses. E-mail is not as effective as snail mail but at least it is a contact. - Don Black
Now that's a good idea.


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