Friday, December 10, 2004

A Matter of Physics

I wasn't surprised when Drudge started focusing heavily on this story about the Tennessee reporter suggesting that some soldiers he was embedded with ask Rumsfeld about the lack of armor for their vehicles. In classic Drudge style, it was an attempt to deflect a scandal by focusing on a small detail that should be irrelevant to the larger issue, but which nonetheless ends up getting picked up by the rest of the media. It was especially troubling to see people trying to sweep soldiers' legitimate concerns under the carpet by pointing out that their questions had been encouraged by a journalist, but, like I said, I expect these things from Drudge.

But check out the shocking way that Yahoo/IBD reports the story, beginning with the headline "Setting up Rummy":

Setting Up Rummy

Thu Dec 9, 7:00 PM ET


Media: A GI confronts Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld in Iraq (news - web sites) -- a story that somehow made major newspapers' front pages. Only problem: It was staged.

The GI was reportedly irate over a lack of adequate armor for military Humvees. His question played well to the media's basic bias, showing a clueless Rumsfeld left stammering for an answer and finally deferring to a three-star general to respond.

The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among others, gave it front-page play. TV networks and National Public Radio gave it prominent airtime. Quite a coup for a lone questioning GI.

Except, as it turns out, the question wasn't authentic.

That's right, it wasn't an authentic concern - not for the soldier who asked the question nor for the hundreds of gathered soldiers who clapped and hollered in approval. There's more:

What was portrayed as soldiers' genuine anger was, in fact, a staged media event.

Those soldiers really had us going! The idea that they would be angry about the lack of equipment, which can lead to more horrific injuries [warning: link very graphic]. Turns out that they can't actually think for themselves and that some small-beat reporter made them do it. Figures - liberal media.

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