July 01, 2005

Ralph Peters on Media Coverage in Afghanistan

An interesting column from Ralph Peters in the New York Post regarding the Media's coverage of war in Afghanistan:

Which issue matters more to America's future: the remarkable progress made in Afghanistan, or the disappearance of a teenager in Aruba? Obviously, the latter. Over the past month, TV news has devoted more airtime to a missing girl than to Afghanistan and Iraq combined. It took the loss of a special operations helicopter and the 16 personnel aboard to get our Afghan success story back in the headlines — as bad news. The relentless quest for sensation (and ratings) hurts us badly in Iraq, where a torrent of negative reporting creates an alternate reality in which terrorists dominate the country. The coverage of Afghanistan is even more lopsided. Yes, Afghanistan has problems. It will have problems beyond our lifetimes. But the country is vastly more peaceful, humane and hopeful than ever before in its history.


And here's how our media deal with the undeniable progress made in Afghanistan: Tens of thousands of girls enrolled in schools? Who cares. Peace in most of the country? Boring. democratic elections? Non-story. Economic progress? Less than a non-story. A construction boom in Kabul? About time journalists had a nice hotel. Afghan troops defending their elected government? Zero interest, dude.

Sixteen GIs lost in a helicopter shot down by terrorists? Now THAT'S news. It is news, of course. We mourn the loss of every one of our service members. And while every American casualty, colonel or corporal, counts equally, the loss of a team of Navy Seals is an operational blow. We want to know what happened. The problem is the imbalance in the reporting. My friends who serve or served in Afghanistan are bewildered by the only-bad-news-counts coverage. By any objective measure, Afghanistan's an incredible, they-said-it-couldn't-be-done success story. But we only hear that the Taliban is back. Well, the Taliban never went away entirely. The movement may never fully disappear — no more than nutty white-supremacy groups will vanish completely from the U.S. scene. But we're better off now than in the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan, and the Taliban's been reduced to a local nuisance.


But the Taliban have an ally the Apaches never dreamed of — the media. Make no mistake: Our Islamist enemies are as media-savvy as the top Hollywood agents. They know they can't defeat us militarily, so attacks aim to influence opinion polls and decision-makers in the United States. Calls for withdrawal timetables and partisan declarations that we're failing only encourage our enemies to kill more of our troops. This week, we lost 16 fine Americans in the Afghan mountains. They deserve to be mourned, and their sacrifice merits respect. But the failure to provide balanced reporting from Afghanistan — and Iraq — is nothing less than spitting on their graves.

I don't know whether or not the skewed coverage is due to the media's political agenda or its desire to only cover "sensational" stories. Probably a little bit of both. However, the real problem is that it encourages attacks on our troops by Islamic terrorists in order for the terrorists to get more media coverage. The terrorists are trying, in essence, to exploit the media as a means to further its agenda - to prompt our early withdrawal.
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