By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Who lost Iraq? The media, of course

We the Sheeples has a splendid takedown of James Q. Wilson’s recent screed against the media. In a lecture reprinted by the Wall Street Journal’s site, Wilson blamed all the bad news coming out of Iraq on an excess of negative media reports.

Wilson goes on to argue for the legality of the Bush administration’s no-warrant wiretapping program, on the grounds that — as best as I can figure out — Wilson believes martial law was declared shortly after 9/11; offers a fictional timeline showing how the media could have lost World War II if they were anything like the treasonous vermin who populate our newsrooms today; and beats “the media lost Vietnam” canard so hard and so repeatedly that it winds up broken into tiny toxic particles by the time he’s finished.

If you want to save yourself 15 minutes, you can just read the headline on Wilson’s piece, which succeeds at capturing both its essence and its lunacy: “The Press at War: What ever happened to patriotic reporters?”

And if you’d rather laugh than scream, read We the Sheeples. An excerpt:

You can’t look at how the media covers something without looking at the reality of the something. Wilson does not do that. He wants to say that the negative portrayal of the Iraq war means the media is negative. You can’t do that without looking at the reality, which is that dozens of bodies turn up mutilated — decapitation seems to be a favorite — every single day. Not, unfortunately, to Wilson …

You’d better believe if 30 headless corpses were found in Wilson’s hometown, he wouldn’t be complaining about adverse media coverage. Perhaps the media should write about all the people who weren’t decapitated yesterday?

Fortunately for Wilson, his head is still firmly attached to his shoulders. He ought to try using it.

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  1. mike_b1

    “Tiffany’s Not Robbed!”News at 11 …

  2. BosPhotog

    Thanks for the link Dan. I will make sure to tell the mother of the Swampscott 20yr old soldier, who died in Iraq in late September, that her pain and the reality of the situation has been overblown in a negative way by that liberal media. A 2nd call will be placed to the guy in central MA who was trying to raise funds for his son’s body armor because our troops in Iraq did not receive sufficient body protection.

  3. Anonymous

    “takedown”? Funny, I thought it was about the pursuit of truth, regardless of whose ox was gored. I was obviously in error and missed the competitive nature of the exercise. I anxiously await the analogous daily body counts from Compton and Flint.

  4. Anonymous

    I commend this gentleman/woman for trying to counter media assaults and false accusations, whichever direction they fly. Not enough clarifications and counterspin defenses are made, in a timely manner, and this is a good attempt.This is the same paper that the morning after a “thmupin'” was out ssaying it wasn’t realy a defeat, that actually it was a victory, for sure a long term one for Conservatism and that Dems are in for more trouble than they think, similar to the delusional tone of Krauthammer and Barnes and other loonies in the aftermath. Somehow, they can’t figure out if it is for Rush and the gang as well as the local Howie Carrs of the country, a heart-wrenching pain or a windfall disguised as a ‘selfless rallying cause for conservatism.’ (As Brian A-Lot-Of-Baloney, if in doubt.)Leading up to the election, it sounded like it was pain. After, it was repainted with a smiley smirk, a forced one nonetheless.Speaking of where-the-heck-is-that-coming-from moments, can someone please ask a small question or clarification from the outgoing governor who said this:”We have two factions of media in Boston. On the one hand, we have the Hillary-loving, Ted Kennedy apologists. And on the other, we have the liberals.” a DC event for the American Spectator.Uhhh..where does the Herald fall in that equation, Sir?If this is the type of argument and framing anyone is using to win the highest office in the land along with the hearts and mind of a majority of smart Americans, it would be pretty sad (and short.) Oy VeyIt is so fashionable to attack the beleagered media. Oh so tempting! Like a little wounded lamb, everyone thinks the media isn’t strong enough to respond and is whittling away. Yeah, you can kill the messenger alright. “It’s the message, stupid!” like one pol would have said.Fox, still in denial, is nevertheless showing some subdued signs of sheepishness, or a loser’s humility and their O’Reillys are not quite as boisterous as before.What is extremely disappointing is that the newsprint media has been for the last 10-15 years essentially hunched over bellyaching with never-ending cuts and cautious behavior.How can any American business with so many bright people on different ends of the intellectual band, be so clueless as to how right the ship. They have what tech and big companies want, content and braintrust. How come there hasn’t been one executive able to find at least a more workable business plan? With all the money and manpower -and goodwill- it has, the newsprint business has been in standstill. I refuse to believe there is no way to save at least the cream of the crop. There must be a way. (no online migration theories please)N.

  5. MeTheSheeple

    Anon 12:33: I didn’t call it a takedown, and I also hope you didn’t see the original Wilson piece as a search for the truth.For what it’s worth, Baghdad appears to have a murder rate some four times that of Compton, over a much larger city with greater diversity. It has roughly six times the murder rate of Flint.(Note: The worst United States murder rate is often cited to be Gary, Indiana, but there’s a lot of speculation that many Gary bodies started in Chicago, making Chicago’s artificially low.)Sources are here and here.Mr. Wilson at least works in Malibu, Calif., a city not widely known for its rampant beheadings. Again, I suggest that if 30 beheaded bodies were found in Mr. Wilson’s hometown, he’d be more worried about security than media. Why should the reverse be the same when it involves another locale?

  6. Philocrites

    I’ve been reading CJR’s oral history of the Iraq war by the journalists who covered it. Now that’s a sobering first-hand account.

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