Tuesday, May 17, 2005

"The Government Always Lies"

OpinionJournal has an exceptional editorial today on the culture of the mainstream media that is responsible for the 'scandals' at Abu Ghraib, Niger yellowcake and the Newsweek Koran debacle. It's short and sweet - click the title to read the whole piece. Here's a short excerpt:

...The more consequential question here, it seems to us, is why Newsweek was so ready to believe the story was true. The allegation after all repudiated explicit U.S. and Army policy to treat Muslim detainees with religious respect, including time to pray, honoring dietary preferences and access to the Koran. Yet the magazine readily printed a story suggesting that what our enemies claim about Guantanamo is essentially true. Why?

Our own answer is that this is part of a basic media mistrust of the military that goes back to Vietnam and has shown itself with a vengeance during the Iraq conflict and the war on terror. Long gone are the days when AP's Ernie Pyle--an ace reporter by the standards of any era--could use the pronoun "we" in describing the Allied struggle against the Axis. In its place is a kind of permanent adversary media culture that goes beyond reporting the war news--good or bad as it should--and tends to suspect the worst about the military and American purposes.
As we say, much of this media pose goes back to Vietnam, and the betrayal that the press corps felt about body counts and the "five o'clock follies." Reporters like Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam made their careers by turning into the war's fiercest critics and creating a culture of suspicion that the government always lies. Mr. Sheehan's Vietnam memoir is titled, "A Bright Shining Lie." And for many of today's young reporters it is a kind of moral template. [emphasis added]

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