Don’t Ask the Media Who’s Winning the War

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The United States military is truly one of the marvels of the modern world. With sophisticated weaponry, exceptional training, and superior leadership, the men and women of our armed forces represent the absolute best combat force on the planet. Couple this force with the seasoned military planners and strategists back in Washington, and America has the team and the plan to win a decisive victory against Iraq. That is, unless you ask the media. According to America’s media, not only is the war plan ill conceived, but worse yet, America is losing the war.

A review of the transcripts from recent press briefings at the White House, Pentagon, and Central Command reveals an array of questions designed not to solicit information, but rather to solicit a denial. In fact, in many instances, the government and military briefers are not asked questions in which a simple statement of the facts will suffice. Time and time again, the briefers are presented with theoretical situations which they must deny and rebut. In other words, the media are often not working to report the news. Instead, they are looking to make news by throwing out a wild statement and seeing how the briefer responds. This is irresponsible at best, and a disservice to the American people who want to know what’s going on with the war.


Part of the media’s angle is to cast doubts on the war plan, because, after a week and a half, the war is not over yet. Are we “bogged down?” Why hasn’t the entire Iraqi military surrendered already? In a recent briefing at the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked: “Mr. Secretary, as you know, there has been some criticism, some by retired senior officers, some by officers on background in this building, who claim that the war plan in effect is flawed.”

To his credit, Secretary Rumsfeld responded by saying, “Well, we’re one week into this, and it seems to me it’s a bit early for history to be written, one would think.”

Leading up to the war, officials in Washington often spoke to the fact that the Iraqi people are oppressed, tortured, and terrorized by Saddam Hussein’s regime. These officials mentioned that many Iraqis would welcome the presence of U.S. and coalition forces. After a week and a half, the singing in the streets is not as deafening as one would hope, but did anyone really think it would happen so soon? The Iraqi people were encouraged to defy Saddam Hussein before only to be left hanging in the wind. The fact that they are cautious and not yet convinced that Saddam Hussein will be removed from power is understandable, but it has not stopped the media from hammering on this point. Their implied message is: Why are you here when the Iraqi people don’t even want you?

An example comes from the recent Pentagon briefing. A reporter asked Secretary Rumsfeld: “Is it possible that you’ve miscalculated the desire of the Iraqi people to be liberated by an outside force and that because of their patriotism or nationalism, that they’ll continue to resist the Americans, even after you prevail militarily?”

Secretary Rumsfeld responded, “Don’t you think it’s a little premature — the question? We’ll know the answer to that. As portions of the country are liberated, we’ll have people on the ground, embedded with our forces, who will have a chance to see what happens and see how they feel about it. Why do we want to guess?”

In addition to portraying the image that the war with Iraq has gone on for too long, the media are also trying to dig for anything that might convey a sense of coverup or misdeeds within the military and the administration. The topper was a question asked to Secretary Rumsfeld about numbers of killed and wounded soldiers: “The casualty figures currently officially released by the U.S. military show 28 dead and 40 wounded. Now the proportion of wounded and dead would be — would seem to be historically way out of skew, because the number of wounded is usually far more than the number killed in action. Is there — can you explain why that would be, or — and is there any effort to either unreport or under-report casualties from the battlefield?”

With that question, even the usually unflappable Don Rumsfeld was left in a stupor. He responded by saying: “Oh, my goodness! Now, you know that wouldn’t be the case. There’s no — no one in this government, here or on the ground, is going to underreport what’s happening. That’s just terrible to think that. Even to suggest it is outrageous. Most certainly not! The facts are reported.”

The bombardment of questions is not limited to the Pentagon. In a briefing at the White House, Spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked whether the detailing of Saddam’s atrocities against the Iraqi people was used to “continue to justify the war to the American people.” Fleischer replied by saying, “Well, no, I think it’s part of describing the horrible reality that Saddam Hussein is putting his people through.”

The point is that rather than asking questions that lead to a better understanding of the war, the media are focusing on questions that are unproductive and are designed to put the briefers on the defensive. In another example regarding the expectations of a quick war with Iraq, a reporter asked: “You did very little to lower expectations in the run up to this. Even if you didn’t raise them yourself, you did nothing to lower what we were hearing from the Pentagon and from other outside pundits about how well, how quickly this war would go.”

Fleischer responded: “I could not dispute that more strongly, and let me cite it for you. If you take a look at what the president said on October 7th in Cincinnati in a major speech to the country, the president said, ‘Military conflict could be difficult. An Iraqi regime faced with its own demise may attempt cruel and desperate measures. There is no easy or risk-free course of action.’ That’s what the President said some six months ago, five months ago.”

In a recent CNN report on civilians killed in a neighborhood blast, the on-air reporter referred to the U.S. military as “attacking civilian neighborhoods” in order to destroy military targets. How twisted is that statement? The military does not “attack” civilian neighborhoods. The military attacks military targets of the enemy. If those targets are close to civilian areas, then there is certainly a risk of civilian casualties, but to say that civilian areas are being “attacked” is patently false.

The examples go on and on, but the point is clear. At a time when the country needs to come together to support the troops and support the president, the media are working double time to sow the seeds of doubt in the American public. As of this writing, the war is one and a half weeks old. Are we winning? Yes. When will it end? I don’t know. What I do know is that in a very short time, the American military has accomplished unprecedented successes in troop movement, bomb accuracy, and human intelligence. Saddam Hussein and his sons could very well have been taken out with the first bomb dropped. We are winning the war, and we don’t need the media to tell us otherwise.

”’Bobby Eberle is president and CEO of GOPUSA — See:”’ ”’– a news information and commentary company based in Houston, TX. He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Rice University. He can be reached via email at:”’