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Author Topic: Pentagon Urged to Remove Embedded CNN Reporters
KnightEnder
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Armed services panel chair blasts network (CNN) for airing the tape of a sniper killing a U.S. soldier.--LA Times

CNN cable news has become "the publicist for an enemy propaganda film" by broadcasting a tape showing an insurgent sniper apparently killing an American soldier, said the chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee here Friday.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Cali, called for the Pentagon to oust immediately any CNN reporter embedded with U.S. troops in Iraq.

Tony Snow insinuated that the insurgents slipped the tape to CNN. Which seemed to be verified by David Doss CNN producer who said that CNN Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware in Iraq received the tape. We do know that Anderson Cooper 360 showed it and then several other news shows on CNN did likewise.

Several Republican representatives (Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., Hunter, and Rep Darrel Issa, R-Calif.) have sent a letter to Rumsfeld calling the film "nothing short of a terrorist snuff film."

What do you guys think?

KE

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Funean
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I also heard an interview with a formerly embedded reporter (sorry; can't remember a dang thing about him, like name or affiliation, except that he lost a hand in the course of his coverage, trying to toss a live grenade back out of the vehicle in which he was riding) in which he noted that the practice of embedding may well compromise the principles of objective or even independent journalism.

His argument was that when you are embedded, you are utterly dependent on the group in which you are embedded for your safety, conveyance, access to whatever you are supposed to cover, as well as your room and board (as well as, by extension, the organization under which the group serves). In addition, this dependency occurs under conditions that are often quite extreme and intense, which even under more ordinary circumstances of association lends itself to bonding. The reporter was quite matter-of-fact about his increasing difficulty in remaining objective about the soldiers and their mission, and remarked that this feeling was far from unusual among his colleagues.

It seems to me that in light of this, whatever benefits may be rendered by the practice of embedding are not only dubious, but are far outweighed by the hazard to these non-combatants and the risks to both the units which must protect them if they can and to the security concerns surrounding their movements and missions.

So I'm beginning not to see the point to embedding, but certainly get the squicks about the idea of effectively limiting the access of one network based on what it airs. It seems particularly inane if it's true that the aired material wasn't the product of its reporters.

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kenmeer livermaile
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Voluntary Stockholm syndrome.
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Tom Curtis
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KE, if it is not immoral to show US troops killing their enemies, then it is not immoral to show their enemies killing them. As it is very standard Pentagon practise to show the former, they even call press conferences to do it, they can have no moral objection to the later.

Given that, the only further question is does the embedding of reporters give the US military or government a right of veto over Press publications. Obviously the answer is no. The only purpose for which reports can appropriately be censored is for reasons of security. Any attempt to censor editorial line, or content from non-embedded reporters constitutes an attempt by the military to become, in effect, a lobby group - which is straightforwardly unacceptable.

Funean, bonding with the embedded unit is a risk of embedding, but it is one that can be easilly lived with. Rather than end embedding, we ought to ensure that for every embedded reporter, there are one or two non-embedded reporters on the ground providing perspective. Given those reporters to provide perspective, a sympathetic report regarding the soldiers and the conditions they face is a good thing.

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LoverOfJoy
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If there was any evidence that the reporter did a "favor" to get the exclusive video then I can understand the outrage and removing reporters to be safe. I didn't get that impression in this case, though. *shrug*
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Ivan
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Funean- IIRC, the guy was from Time Magazine.
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Rallan
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See you peacenik commies just don't get it. If we show a laser-guided bomb blowing up a compound, or US tanks routing insurgents, it's unbiased coverage. But if they start showing "our boys" getting shot at or shipped home in coffins, the terrorists have won [Smile]
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Tezcatlipoca
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quote:
See you peacenik commies just don't get it. If we show a laser-guided bomb blowing up a compound, or US tanks routing insurgents, it's unbiased coverage. But if they start showing "our boys" getting shot at or shipped home in coffins, the terrorists have won [Smile]
I guess we better start showing some Neo-Nazi video's then whenever they do a documentary on Hitler on the History Channel, lest we appear biased.
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Everard
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Normally your logic is a lot better then that, tez.

Those documentary's on the history channel don't normally say "no americans died in world war II," which is sorta what the pentagon seems to be wanting us to report about gulf war II.

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Tezcatlipoca
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Could you point out my logical fallacy please?

I so rarely speak here because I simply get tired right before hitting the Add Reply button, I would like to learn at least one thing each time I so seldomly post. I can then retire to my Lurker Lair.

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DonaldD
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Just so I'm clear, Hunter, Bilbray and Issa would like to (at worst) 'abridge the freedoms' of CNN based on undesirable editorial content. At best,they want to give preferential treatment to some networks based on what they report.

Nice.

It's not like they're talking about punishing any specific person for having broken a specific rule...

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Everard
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Tez-
THe logical fallacy is in comparing different opinions (ie, neo-nazi opinions vs history channel opinions about hitler) about an event to covering the facts completely about an event.

Rallan is saying that reporting all the facts of what is happening is being unbiased. You are countering by saying that in that case we should present neo-nazi opinions about hitler.

Its actually a veyr similar logical error to the one Liberal is making on the origins of chrisianity thread... its an invalid comparison because you're using different tools of analysis on the two different subjects.

THe pentagon apparntly doesn't want american deaths covered. Those deaths are factual. What the neo-nazi's think of WWII and Hitler is opinion. Opinion and facts are measured against different standards, so you cant compare bias or the lack thereof of one against bias of the other.

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Rallan
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Yeah Everard got it in one. The problem here is that rep. Duncan Hunter (and various other hawks making similar demands) don't want embedded reporters to report truth, they want embedded reporters to report truthiness. As far as they're concerned the war in Iraq is unquestionably a right and good thing, and when journalists report unfolding events in a way that doesn't reinforce this truth then the journalists are doing the enemy's work.

Because as we all know the patriotic duty of the press in a democratic society isn't to keep the public informed of actual events or facts, it's to make sure the public doesn't accidentally form the wrong opinion [Smile]

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kenmeer livermaile
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"...bonding with the embedded unit is a risk of embedding, but it is one that can be easilly lived with. Rather than end embedding, we ought to ensure that for every embedded reporter, there are one or two non-embedded reporters on the ground providing perspective. Given those reporters to provide perspective, a sympathetic report regarding the soldiers and the conditions they face is a good thing."

It is. And if we were to also include coverage by a jihadi sympathiser journalist embedded with a Sadr militia?

"Several Republican representatives (Brian Bilbray, R-Calif., Hunter, and Rep Darrel Issa, R-Calif.) have sent a letter to Rumsfeld calling the film "nothing short of a terrorist snuff film."

Tell 'em to shut up and watch their well-worn videos of John Wayne in "The Green Berets". Watching gooks die is FUN!!!

Morons. As if TIME's core audience was members of al-qaeda or something.

"I guess we better start showing some Neo-Nazi video's then whenever they do a documentary on Hitler on the History Channel, lest we appear biased."

Um, why feature neo-Nazis when you're detailing the real, original, ur-thing? Hitler makes the NAZI case pretty well on his own, I'd say, what with the Holocaust and all.

In other words, in explaining Hitler, you already have the anti-Jewish, Aryan uber alles point of view. Why add some derivative copycat? There were plenty of folks during Hitler's era who extolled and enacted the *rel* NAZI ethos just swell.

IF by neo-NAZI, you mean Holocaust deniers (HDs), then you might have a valid metaphor, with the caveat already described by Everard. Neo-NAZIs and HDs are not synonymous although they sometimes overlap.

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Tezcatlipoca
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Thank you for clearing that up for me Everard. Sorry for my false argument. [Smile]
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Jesse
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Uh, when we're dealing with something factual, does the source really matter? I mean, I never heard anyone complain about the publication of photos of Fonda in an AA Gun...which were taken by the NVA.

Unless the video was some sort of special effects product from an Iraqi field office of ILM I never heard of, it's not "propaganda" unless put to that purpose.

All the major news networks show actuall propaganda produced by our enemies, Bin Laden statements and suicide bomber goodbye notes and so on. This is a recording of an event that most would consider newsworthy.

If he had filmed it himself, say from a rooftop with a serious telephoto, would we be having this conversation?

It is, of course, nothing less than a snuff film, but some folks around here have discussed their hobby of viewing such things in the past.

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LoverOfJoy
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To be fair, I think people are partly upset because it's a sniper. I think people might be upset with a snippet of an american sniper taking out a terrorist. Much of the american public just don't want to see that stuff in living color even if they know it's going on...whether it's a "terrorist snuff film" or an "allied powers snuff film".

Has anyone seen the clip? Did it include a message from the terrorists?

Regardless, I think removing CNN reporters was probably a very poor choice. This isn't about freedom of the press however. IBM might let a reporter come into their offices and see "a day in the life of an IBM employee" but once the reporter makes IBM look bad, don't expect IBM to invite the reporter back for a follow-up article. Reporters don't have a fundamental right to bunk with the servicemen.

If a reporter that is bunking with the servicemen has close enough contact with a terrorist then I can understand viewing that reporter as a liability.

"Here's an exclusive video of a terrorist killing a serviceman." {reporter takes it back to the base to view it} {terrorist pushes button to set off bomb in the tape}

If the tape was sent to a non-embedded reporter it'd be a different story. It seems perfectly reasonable to expect that an embedded reporter has to live by different standards and rules than a non-embedded one. That means they might not be able to get certain stories. It may mean their hands are tied in some ways. It also means they get an inside scoop on certain things. It's an exchange that reporters have to deal with all the time outside of the military as well.

I don't even know if this came from an embedded reporter, though, much less whether the reporter broke any policy.

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kenmeer livermaile
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A video of a soldier being taken out by a sniper would probably be an image of the soldier suddenly dropping, with or without blood spurt et cetera. If the video showed the sniper and the soldier, well, the reporter would p[robably have erased the footage immediately, before his em-buds saw what it contained.

I mean, hink about it, y'all.

I'm impressed time and again how tv/cinema has trained us forget that the camera has no eye or mind of its own, and must be pointed at everything it records by a human agent.

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Kent
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CNN is taking sides when they show propaganda given to them by terrorists, and it ain't the USA's side they are taking. This thing is going to backfire on CNN.
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Tom Curtis
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Sure, Kent, if they show propoganda footage from terrorists AND the US, then their taking sides against the US. But if they only show the US propoganda footage, then their being impartial.
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Tom Curtis
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LOJ:

quote:
Regardless, I think removing CNN reporters was probably a very poor choice. This isn't about freedom of the press however. IBM might let a reporter come into their offices and see "a day in the life of an IBM employee" but once the reporter makes IBM look bad, don't expect IBM to invite the reporter back for a follow-up article. Reporters don't have a fundamental right to bunk with the servicemen.
It isn't about freedom of the press, but it is about the US military trying to manage US public opinion. No government agency has any role in managing public opinion. In a democracy, the people are the boss, and attempting to shape public opinion represents an attempt to manipulate "the boss" by controlling access to information. It should not, under any circumstances, be tolerated.
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Tom Curtis
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kenmeer:

quote:
It is. And if we were to also include coverage by a jihadi sympathiser journalist embedded with a Sadr militia?
While I don't for a moment imagine the American (or Australian) people would accept that, there is nothing wrong with it in principle, even an embeded reporter with Al Qaeda. It certainly might help people to "know your enemy".

What is more, I think the enlightenment values so elequently expressed in the Declaration of Independance are so attractive we don't need to hide other points of view in order to defend. IN fact, in hiding other POV, we betray rather than defend those values.

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javelin
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quote:
No government agency has any role in managing public opinion.
Oddest statement I've read today.
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DaveS
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Agreed, this Administration in particular has used various government outlets to propagandize their agenda. Every Administration has to let people know what its programs are and how they work, but this one goes beyond that to editorialize and do PR on our nickel. The most well known example is Armstrong Williams, who was paid to "speak well of" the No Child Left Behind program, but the most money was spent on advertising for the Medicare program changes. The GAO denounced the ad campaign, calling it covert propaganda.
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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by DaveS:
Agreed, this Administration in particular has used various government outlets to propagandize their agenda. Every Administration has to let people know what its programs are and how they work, but this one goes beyond that to editorialize and do PR on our nickel. The most well known example is Armstrong Williams, who was paid to "speak well of" the No Child Left Behind program, but the most money was spent on advertising for the Medicare program changes. The GAO denounced the ad campaign, calling it covert propaganda.

Okay, this now ties the original statement.

The character playing the White House press secretary on West Wing (CJ Craig) once said, to paraphrase, that her job was to make sure the press got the administration's perpective on things. "Spinning" things is a politician's primary activity - the White House has NEVER been exempt.

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Colin JM0397
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As a service member myself, I don’t have a problem with it.

War is ugly and dirty and nasty. If the public wasn’t so insulated from what goes on day to day, there would be a lot more restraint on those in control and a lot less fighting.

I think people should be forced to watch it. And those videos of our guys taking out bad guys. Watch it, absorb it, think about it. This is what you are advocating when you allow your military to be sent into combat.

Being quite cynical about what motivates politicians, it’s not aiding and abetting the enemy these folks are worried about; it’s the public opinion and the letters this they are tying to avoid:
“Dear congressperson, after seeing young Private Smith get his head blown off, we’re shocked that you continue to support this operation. We demand you not support it or you’re out of a job next election.
Signed, 70% of your district”

If I die in action, show it. Have the cameras at my funeral so you can see my grieving family so you all have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “is it worth it?”

If you can look the beast in the eye and say “yes, it is”, then perhaps the war is necessary.

When you support a war with no more connection to it than the occasional headline of “X soldiers killed today” or insulated behind your computer screen as you sit in your comfortable office or home, then you need to see and feel the consequences of our collective decision to allow these wars to happen.

That’s why CNN will be blocked from showing this stuff again. Imagine it if we all had to look at and deal with these things on a daily basis.
Fat chance getting the public behind any war that doesn’t involve the terrorist hordes invading with nukes strapped on their backs.

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kenmeer livermaile
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"CNN is taking sides when they show propaganda given to them by terrorists, and it ain't the USA's side they are taking. This thing is going to backfire on CNN."

Backfire from those who confuse reportage with propganda, but for those of us who simply views news media as information to be sampled, nah. I say good jpb. But then, I don't place any more credence in 'footage from our side' than 'footage from theirside'.

I recall footage, for example, of a certain staue being toppled in the streets of Baghdad...

"...a tape showing an insurgent sniper apparently killing an American soldier..."

Assuming the POV is that of the sniper, such footage BETTER come from the enemy.

Snipers are snipers. We'vwe used snipers since way back. They are a significant part of a military campaign. Tune in tomorrow and we'll show our side sniping a jihadi from our sniper's POV? I doubt it. It would be foolish to publish ANYthing that gave the enemy insight into our modus operandi.

""Spinning" things is a politician's primary activity - the White House has NEVER been exempt."

jav is right. If opur leaders can do it, why should we forbid free capitlaist news outlets from spinning however it pleases them? I mean, no one's FORCING us to watch, but the White House HAS forced us into war. A commander-in-chied can *do* that, you know. It's not all those National Guard reservists just up and went to Iraq on a collective whim.

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DaveS
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quote:
"Spinning" things is a politician's primary activity - the White House has NEVER been exempt.
Spinning isn't spinning when it crosses the line into propaganda. Extolling the virtues of your carefully designed programs does not, but hiring independent journalists to say what you want them to say without revealing their PR agenda does. Misleading and misrepresenting becomes what the GAO calls covert propaganda, which is what governments do to hide the truth from their citizens.

War is a different beast altogether, since you can't tell the "truth" about war without losing support for it. Basically, you have to ignore the dead and try to focus people's attention on the abstract mission, but TV only captures the carnage, not the message. Last, consider the irony of invoking a fictional character in a TV PR role to explain the reality of war.

[ October 23, 2006, 11:17 AM: Message edited by: DaveS ]

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javelin
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quote:
Spinning isn't spinning when it crosses the line into propaganda.
(A) I don't see the difference here; and
(B) What you are describing has happened over and over again in our history - driven by the White House, to various degrees.

Again, this isn't new, it's not unusual, and it's not even something that only happens in America.

That doesn't make it acceptable or okay, but it certainly does make me boggle at the statements made here.

[ October 23, 2006, 11:26 AM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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Colin JM0397
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In propaganda, information ops, PSYOPS - whatever the name du-jour is, the information or spin is not what you should be looking at or worrying about.

Information can be used raw, filtered, tweaked, manipulated, or even fabricated, but that doesn't matter.

You need to look beyond the information and discern the goal of the person or organization propagating the info. Each piece of info/propaganda supports a specific as well as an overall objective, and is targeted to a specific group to affect said objective.

While this can be difficult to untangle, the what becomes much more apparent for what it is when you know who/what is targeting it towards whom/what and why.

Honestly, it's no different than commonly used private sector marketing techniques. Just switch “demographic” and “market” with “target audience”.

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kenmeer livermaile
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The line 'wixt spin, PR, and propaganda isn't. Just different names for different things.

The only line that can be drawn with some clarity is the factuality of the content. TVs right now are swarming with paid adverts that lie like a pimp for an AIDS-riddled hooker, but they do so with (barely) factual content.

In this forum, we've had countless debates about whether or not Bush 'LIED' to the American people. (Note propaganda technique: I CAPITALIZED the word lied in order th shout it out [Wink] )

What those debates are, in effect, is interpretive spin after the fact.

We propagandize ourselves.

[ October 23, 2006, 11:37 AM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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DaveS
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Jav, I think it means that your tolerance for government induced self-abuse is higher than mine. Propaganda got us into this war and sustains it. As many people as live in Cincinnati have died so far, and perhaps as many as live in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Denver and Minneapolis have been displaced. Do you cling to the "mission" and the "message" or do you recoil at the horror and devastation...?

[ October 23, 2006, 11:38 AM: Message edited by: DaveS ]

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hobsen
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DaveS:
quote:
War is a different beast altogether, since you can't tell the "truth" about war without losing support for it.
Is this really true? My impression is that Americans would have continued to support the war effort in World War II even if they had known everything about it that is known now.
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kenmeer livermaile
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" a)War is a different beast altogether, since you can't tell the "truth" about war without losing support for it.

b) Is this really true? My impression is that Americans would have continued to support the war effort in World War II even if they had known eveything about it that is known now."

I say yes and no, but at least 90% yes. My impression is that there was such universal support for the WWII war effort that no paper with good sense didn't edit factual content in such a way that even the most dire negative events (in terms of our eventual victory and cost thereof) weren't presented with an implicit positive spin.

In WWII, it can't be stressed enough that no propaganda was needed to get the public behind the war. Oh, it was used, and heavily. Hollywood became a war propaganda machine. BUT... there was an avid market for this. It was what the people wanted. They KNEW it sucked; they KNEW it was awful; they KNEW it was atrocious. They knew we firebombed German/Jap civilians by the tens of thousands, or so I understand. The papers reported this information, albeit with a form of spin that stressed 'precision bombing' even while reporting colossal civilian carnage.

We the people were willing to buy it all because WE THE PEOPLE BELIEVED THE WAR WAS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Period.

That, regarding propaganda and support and truth in reporting and alla that stuff, is the reigning distinction between WWII and Nam and Iraq2. The latter were 'optional wars' that had'have to sell themselves via success. (Comparison: how far would German support of Hitler have gone if he lost his early invasions? Not very.But we followed FDR and Marshall and -- yeesh -- even MaCarthur to the ends of the earth because we believed it was a colossal war of mythical proportions in which not only good versus evil but survival versus homeland defeat were at odds. Iraq1? Very much a controlled propaganda war. Getting out after kicking ass was also a critical component to that war being viewed as successful. We did what war is good at -- death and destruction -- and bypassed whyat war is bad at -- living and construction.)

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by DaveS:
Jav, I think it means that your tolerance for government induced self-abuse is higher than mine. Propaganda got us into this war and sustains it. As many people as live in Cincinnati have died so far, and perhaps as many as live in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Denver and Minneapolis have been displaced. Do you cling to the "mission" and the "message" or do you recoil at the horror and devastation...?

Did you write this before I made it clear that I consider this neither acceptable or okay? If so, then, well, now you know different. If not, well, shame on you. [Smile]

My concern? That there seems (based on my reading of the two posts - feel free to correct me) to be some sort of misunderstanding that this kind of behavior is either uncommon or unheard of. I'd suggest that it's both common, historical, and has been written about many many times.

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javelin
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quote:
Originally posted by hobsen:
DaveS:
quote:
War is a different beast altogether, since you can't tell the "truth" about war without losing support for it.
Is this really true? My impression is that Americans would have continued to support the war effort in World War II even if they had known everything about it that is known now.
I sincerly doubt it. After all, we know now that the United States would have been left alone by Japan and Germany for their foreseeable future, and there were huge groups of people who didn't want us to get involved in "someone else's war" - not to mention the whole "rise of communism" which would have had another group of people saying things about how they'd prefer fascism to communism any day, etc.
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Kent
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You're right Javelin. The new movie "Flag of our Fathers" shows how the tide of public opinion was not unflaggingly supportive of WWII. Because we won the war, we look back and say it was worth it; but there were plenty of people who disagreed. For heaven's sake, think of a film of the thousands of young men who were sent up the beaches to just be mowed down by the Japanese and the Germans so that they could take a piece of territory. If something like that were shown in the movie houses of the country, the populace would have clamored for their sons to be taken out of such a senseless slaughter.
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EDanaII
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I like where this thread is going (he says impishly).

"All's fair in love and war EXCEPT Freedom of Information..."

If you hold that the above is true, that people should win at all costs, then how is controlling information during a war exempt?

If you hold, as I do, that there are some limitations that SHOULD be applied to winning a war, such as the use of indiscriminate killing agents, i.e. Bio or Chemical weapons, then how is "managing one's propoganda war" worse than any of those items?

People tend to forget that wars are not about "doing the right thing," wars are about winning and weighing the goal against it's cost.

That is all. Carry on.

Ed.

[ October 23, 2006, 12:40 PM: Message edited by: EDanaII ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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"If you hold that the above is true, that people should win at all costs, then how is controlling information during a war exempt?"

I would answer that when it's an open-society democracy whose success owes greatly to said openness of society as in freedom of information, then the war cannot be won at the expense of destroying that principle on which said free society so greatly depends.

Said principle WILL be adjusted; it's a dynamic world in which we loive. But when it is flat-out violated, said open society tends to get pissed off and oust the offenders.

In NK, on the other hand, tellin the truth would itself be a violation of the war-waging sgtate's foundation.

[ October 23, 2006, 12:52 PM: Message edited by: kenmeer livermaile ]

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kenmeer livermaile
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"After all, we know now that the United States would have been left alone by Japan and Germany for their foreseeable future'

Can you rephrase that in a way that doesn't make it appear as if Pearl Harbor didn't happen or somehow didn't count? I'm *sure* that's not what you meanmt to imply...

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