Thursday, June 15, 2006


"It's a new level of chicken hawk..."

As a fully deployed KeeBee from the 101st Fighting Keyboardists, I feel compelled to report on this story. It began with a column by Timothy McNulty who asks a good question: Has the Iraq War Disappeared From the Front Page? Mr McNulty says:
Complaints about the newspaper's coverage of Iraq fall largely into two camps: One claims that editors put "negative" stories on Page 1 in order to reflect poorly on the Bush administration, and the other camp insists editors wipe Iraq stories off Page 1 in order to keep the public uninformed and to lessen criticism of the Bush administration.

Neither is true.
Neither is true. McNulty ends with this thought:
While those who are suspicious of our motives claim that newspapers only report on the bad news, the killings, the fact is that there is an alarming sameness to the daily violence that gets very little attention. Also affecting coverage: After the rash of kidnappings, bombings and murders there are far fewer correspondents in Iraq now than there were two or three years ago. Newspapers and other media are greatly restricted in traveling around the country, even through the neighborhoods of Baghdad, though that has not stopped courageous reporters from taking the risk of meeting with Iraqis and traveling with the American military.
In response, USA Today reporter Cesar Soriano wrote:
For the record, USA Today has maintained a Baghdad bureau since beginning of the war, currently headed by Rick Jervis.
Finally, to all the Chairborne Rangers advancing the vast "negative media" conspiracy from the safety and comfort of their parents' basements: If you think you can do better, I've got a spare bed in the Baghdad bureau
And this is where the sparks began to fly.

Cesar has a record as a war correspondant and he's certainly In Iraq where it can be dangerous if not lethal for reporters. But this last paragraph generated a response from Blackfive about military bloggers. First was Bill Roggio with this quick note:

Hello Cesar,

I'd take you up on the offer of "the spare bed in the Baghdad bureau" but this Chairborne Ranger is currently embedded in Kandahar, Afghanistan. I'll head back to Iraq for the second time this year after I make my next stop in the Horn of Africa. No doubt Michael Totten and Michael Yon, two other notable Chairborne Rangers, have similar plans.

You should also ask another group of Chairborne Rangers, such as Smash, Greyhawk, OpFor, and the other military bloggers who did their blogging from the combat zones to see if they need a rack. Oh, and I'll be bypassing Baghdad to go outside the comfort of the hotel, so you can keep the spare bed.

Best wishes, be safe and enjoy the pool!

Blackfive personally then listed military bloggers and independent journalists and bloggers actually in Iraq that are reporting - often in greater detail and with more stories and better balance than any legacy news source:

Hey Cesar! Here's the list that I used to maintain...from the Extended Section. It's outdated but should give you an idea of military bloggers, or "Chairborne Rangers":

At which point he lists over 60 presently or formerly in Iraq or Afghanistan bloggers, from Lt Smash the indepundit to Soldiergrrl, just to name two.

Personally I question the logic that one must necessarily have to be an active reporter in Iraq to be able to spot poor or limited coverage, bias, or mistakes, but that appears to be Mr Soriano's position in his column.

Blackfive then invited commenters to add to the list, and commenters reported for duty:
Wanna bet that Soriano makes more in a month than any of the troopers listed above? And I'll lay odds he's never worn a uniform, either!
-by Mike

What a moron Soriano is. I guess the Internet connections in the Baghdad USA Today office are down. That must be why they hire insurgents as stringers for their reporters and print the al-Qaeda, Ansar al Sunna, and Iraqi Islamic Brigades' press releases intstead of the real stories.

I just want to know one thing. Why does every editor and most journalists believe that embedding with the US military somehow affects their objectivity more than sitting down and embedding with the terrorists? Do they have some kind of mind probe in the US military which renders journalists terminally stupid or more susceptible to manipulation? (don't answer that --- :) ) Or do they really think terrorists are just too damn honest or stupid to actually manipulate a journalist without no visible means of protection? I'm just saying the double standard is huge, and the worst of it is a journalist can't even recognize the double standard even when it is the size of an African Elephant, sitting in the same room with him, eating peanuts and dropping elephant turds in the corner.

I guarantee, he could do better if he embedded every day, every hour with the US military. He'd get the true story. He'd see Iraq in all its squalor. And he'd know what the plan was, and whether it was working. He'd also know there probably aren't enough guys to go around, but there is also no way to make more magically appear either. We are doing our best with the smallest military force in history in that theater.

Clueless Morons.
-by SubSunk

a bed? man, i coulda used a bed when i got to baghdad. i was happy to scrounge a cot that had both end piece stretchers with it.

does this bed come with walls and/or a roof???
-by MajMike

I am new to the blogging community and this is really off topic, but I wanted to share this with you all...

On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.

We will honor them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers.

If you would like to help out, either by pledging to post a tribute on your own blog, or by offering your services to promote this cause, email D.Challener Roe at , or visit this entry and sign up by leaving a comment.

-by Headbutt

I'd gladly take that offer, and Michael Yon's offer to loan $10,000 worth of equipment, if I could. But they won't let me bring my power-wheelchair.

This 'Chairborne Ranger' has done his time in the sandbox,... and payed dearly for it.

Now if Soriano wants to trade out spinal cords I'll gladly take his place, and do a damn fine job of it!!
-by Paul

Maybe I'm missing something, but there is more than one kind of blogger. There are many people blogging from the field, who I don't think fit Cesar's description.

But there are many more bloggers sitting back in their studies tossing darts at the press who are out in the red zone - those are Chairborne Rangers.

I think Cesar should have also called out the lefy conspiracy blogger who think the press is keeping the military's secrets. I think they're Chairborne Rangers, too.
-by NotaRanger

First, I think some of the antipathy toward USA Today is misplaced.

He's right that the A-1 spread is different there. It typically features on largish photo (or, in USA Today style, graphics) layout that folds into a larger story.

Often these are "trend" stories, not foreign news items, but sometimes they're both.

I thought this morning's USA Today effort on the realities of combat stress wasn't too bad, especially since the paper didn't have a reporter in my old stomping grounds around Ramadi. The daily used a great deal of creativity to reach warriors in the field, and I appreciate that.

Beat listening to more canned crap from some "spokesman."

Over the years, USA Today's reporters and editors have dedicated themselves to some very fine coverage of the military, including a well-received series of stories several years ago on the problems within the National Guard leadership countrywide.

These stories have been without political bias and have been received well by many military commanders. Some of their work has reformed bad practices and HELPED our men and women in the field.

I also wish this tiresome notion of the ever-safe journalist in Baghdad myth would die. It's a bunch of crap. Mortality and wound rates for reporters in this conflict has risen well above those of the troops.

I can assure you that when I was a reporter in the 'box, it was very, very, very dangerous.

I also can assure you that as a grunt in Anbar the work I did was very, very, very dangerous.

He's right to point that out, just as he's right to call out some of the hypocrisy from critics who really don't seem to know what they're talking about.

I've read many of the so-called "informed" bloggers who paid their tickets to Iraq and spent a relatively short time there absorbing the mise-en-scene, and they still don't have the honesty I've come to expect from the NY Times, Christian Science Monitor, Knight Ridder, et al.

Do reporters get these wrong sometimes? Yes.

Do bloggers (both on the left and right) get things wrong sometimes? Very much yes.

It's easy to criticize, hard to improve. Reporting is a profession. Writing for the general reader on highly complex and -- in this case -- deadly topics is a skill few people will master.

Ditto competent soldiering.

As is becoming increasingly clear, warriors and reporters need to begin a dialogue on how to understand combat, force projection and the need for the public, in a democracy, to be informed about the wars we wage in their names.

Perhaps Iraq can be the springboard to this important meeting of the minds that Vietnam never was.
-by Carl

Could somebody politely tell Soriano that his rival sources, the ones providing bloggers with a second opinion on Iraq, are soldiers?
-by Cover Me, Porkins

It's a new level of chicken hawk... First you couldn't advocate use of the military without being a vet...

Now, you can't even criticize a profession for failure to do its job unless you want to jump in and do it for them??? This is like one of those 'push the chickenhawk arguments to absurd extremes arguments to show how silly the argument is'.... except they are not doing it ironically... they're serious?

It’s too much people. The first argument was BS on a bad logical foundation and now you’re trying to add another strata…
-by Thomas

Anyone can say they are there, but until they actually prove it (which may not even be possible), it looks like bullsh*t, and smells like bullsh*t. Does it walk like bullsh*t? Probably.

There is -zero- internet access in most of those areas. Not even by the military.

AND, obviously if this guy -is- telling the truth.. the article wouldn't be referring to him, but apparently he's too farkin dumb to realise that the article was specifically referring to the people sitting back at home doing not a damn thing. But, he felt personally offended, and had to respond anyway.

-by Eric Blade

Eric Blad, my husband was in Iraq from Mar 2003 -Mar 2004, he wasn't in Baghdad, he was in some far flung places I don't even know the names of although the last place was Balad. His job was to set up internet cafe's, the last several months of his tour we talked daily on the internet and that was even before he was getting hot meals. I would guess they had internet access his last five months of his one year tour, probably more so, just not available all the time. I can't imagine how much things have improved since that time.
-by Kelly
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