TCS Daily


Military Bloggers of the World Unite!

By Harold Hutchison - April 27, 2006 12:00 AM

Military bloggers unite! Well, actually, we did.

Last weekend was the 2006 Milblogging Conference held in Washington, DC. For this author, it was the first chance to meet Austin Bay, a TCS contributor and colleague of mine at Strategypage.com. But the gathering also gave folks an insight into how military bloggers (aka milbloggers) have been making a difference in the War on Terror.

Blogs, of course, proved their power in September, 2004, when Dan Rather's use of forged memos was brought to light -- culminating in "Rathergate". In essence, a network of military types who knew about the Air Force procedures of the time when President Bush was in the Air National Guard (1968), others who knew about the typewriters of the time, and a host of other experts, were able to provide the information that proved Rather's memos were phony.

At the conference, the general attitude towards the mainstream media was one of distrust. To illustrate the basis for that distrust, the blogger who ran the blog "In Iraq for 365" related an instance where American soldiers came under fire from a mosque. The American troops did not enter the mosque, however, though the media reported they did. To compound this misreporting, a network had footage of the American troops taking fire from the mosque, and MSM gatekeepers chose not to use this. As a result, the US military had to deal with international PR fallout from the incident.

Milbloggers also discussed how the media ignore of hero-stories and good news (such as these recent examples). Several panelists mentioned how the media largely ignored Sergeant First Class Paul Smith, who held off an attack on a U.S. Army unit during the liberation of Iraq in 2003 and received the Medal of Honor for his heroism. Another ignored hero is Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta, who during a battle covered a grenade to protect fellow Marines. Yet the "knuckleheads" (to quote milblogger Blackfive) of Abu Ghraib got far more coverage than these heroes.

Milblogger efforts have shown that the landscape has changed greatly from Vietnam. As Steve, who blogs at Threatswatch, pointed out, the Tet Offensive was a military defeat for the North Vietnamese, but the victory by American forces on the battlefield was taken away by misreporting from the media of that time. Today, such misreporting will not go unchallenged, as there is a check against the MSM.

The milbloggers largely agreed that this is the major difference between the War on Terror and the Vietnam War. This time, the people who know the facts and the good news stories have the ability to get them out without the filters of the major mainstream media outlets, changing the terrain of the information battlefield. This shift in the terrain has helped keep the United States from completely losing the war on the home front.

Harold Hutchison is a military blogger for Strategypage.

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9 Comments

Milbloggers Unite
While the author is correct that Old Media now has some competition when it comes to stories like the War in Iraq, I'm not as sanguine that milblogging is that effective. Not because the bloggers aren't professional in their coverage, but simply because not that many Americans actually view that coverage. I know that I continually point out to my friends and colleagues that there are other points of view being expressed on the War on Terrorism, but few will make the time or effort to go to those websites. I'm afraid most Americans continue to rely on the distorted, politically-inspired "news coverage" provided by Old Media.

It is about the only place to find and good news
Sadly, the MSM is covering the war in Iraq as if nothing positive ever happens. Even whe we take out a rats nest of thugs and terrorists, the MSM focuses on the damage done, not the fact that an entire local terror network was eliminated. At least there is some good news out there, but you have to go looking for it to find it. That is the real problem here and Why the MSM is not, and will not soon be, irrelevent.

The Media & Milbloggers
First, I also salute the Milbloggers who are attempting to get more of the whole truth out. They are the real front lines and they are the ones fighting and dying so we can live free.
The media have been slowly losing credibility for a number of years. Only the past four or five have cost them so dearly. No matter which side of the political aisle you are on, you should fear a media that reports from one perspective alone.
I hope these Milbloggers keep up their reporting. The more often they catch the establishment media lying or distorting facts, the more often they are eventually exposed to the public as the hacks they are.
Sooner or later, we must demand that any reporting news actually have some sort of real professional credentials that they risk if they distort or withhold news. If there is a penalty for their obfuscation, they will seek professionalism as a matter of survival.

MSM, what is it?
MSM = Meritorious Serve Medal.
I object to using "MSM" to refer to a media that is not main stream.

When I was stationed in West Berlin, the Germans also referred to East Germany as "der sogenante Deutsche Demokratishe Republik" or "the so-called German Democratic Republic" because it was neither democratic or a republic.

If you need to use the term "Main Stream Media", please call it the "the so-called Main Stream Media".

Victory is ours!
We've now been in Iraq longer than we were in World War Two. And we've been opposed, not by the Wehrmacht, but by guys with home made bombs and zero military organization. Are we winning yet?

Better ask the mil-blogs. Everyone else is giving us the wrong answer.

All good news, all the time
There have actually been quite a few journalists killed by the insurgents and by the American military. It's not like they're just sitting around the hotel, drinking Pernod and phoning in bogus news stories. They're out there in danger, digging up facts to report to folks back home.

The distorted news comes from embedded reporters, who are not allowed to visit anywhere things might look bad, or where people might not say good things about the American presence. If you want your news from one perspective alone, read a reporter who's being given the guided tour by the US military.

victory and occupation
A couple of points beano,

1) WWII started many years before the US got involved.

2) The formal occupation of Germany lasted over 10 years, during which time many US soldiers were killed.

3) We are still in Germany.

Are we winning?
We won over two years ago, and the rebuilding phase is going quite well as well.

journalists
A few journalists have gone out on their own, but the vast majority sit in the green zone and base their reports on what their stringers tell them.

Good post mark
Simple and accurate. You might add we are in Japan and Italy still as well.

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