The worst agenda is a hidden agenda

Vaughn Ververs writes an odd and emotional and ultimately simplistic analysis of journalistic objectivity and transparency over at CBS’ Public Eye, using me and reaction to Rep. John Murtha’s call to pull out of Iraq as his jumping-off points.

First, Vaughn misses the point on the objectivity debate. It isn’t that with the death of the objectivity ideal — or the admission that it was a false idol — you must now slant every newscast. That’s what he says and that’s what is simplistic, in my view. Instead, I say that the ethic of transparency requires you reveal the biases you do have because your audience deserves to know them, so they can judge your judgments. Having done that, then, of course, you should still try to be accurate, truthful, fair, balanced, and all that. But to refuse to reveal a bias — or rather, call it a perspective — and to, indeed, hide it is a lie of omission. There’s no agenda worse than a hidden agenda.

When Murtha made his call to pull out of Iraq, it was given major coverage — “All three nightly newscasts led with them, as did the New York Times, Washington Post, and other newspapers,” Public Eye reported at the time. But conservatives said this shouldn’t have been given such coverage since Murtha, though once in favor of the war, had long been critical of it. Public Eye linked to Glenn Reynolds saying just that. I didn’t weigh in on that and still won’t, not having studied the quotes.

So now Vaughn mashes this up with an argument over what is newsworthy and who can say what is newsworthy and whether making that call can be seen in this case as evidence of bias:

Now here’s where I have problems with attacks on the idea that the media can achieve a perspective that is unbiased, if not totally objective: If we can agree that there is something called “newsworthy,” then Murtha’s speech qualified.

But, Vaughn, it is a matter of degree, wouldn’t you agree? Was it news, big news, or the top news story in the nation? Couldn’t reasonable people disagree about that?

But, no, Vaughn seems to say it is an absolute — in fact, he attacks me as a relativist, even though I hadn’t even weighed in on the matter.

Jarvis isn’t alone in making the argument for the death of “objectivity” as an idea but since he’s a friend, we’ll pick on him. In Jarvis-world, with no objective criteria for judging events, how does one argue with the conservative advocate who says Murtha’s speech was not news? You can’t, because there’s no common meaning to the word, “news.” It’s total relativism, it trivializes everything and ignores the real world, commonly understood.

That is why we call it news judgment, Vaughn: because people judge it. And we’ve both worked in enough newsrooms to know that there are plenty of disagreements about that judgement, even among the supposed pros at making those decisions. And behind every one of those decisions comes — let’s not call it bias — perspective. That could be the perspective of experience in journalism. It could be the perspective of politics. But it’s not as if you can just feed the news into an algorithm and get universally accepted news judgment. That’s naive.

Vaughn doesn’t stop there. Oh, no, he keeps driving without brakes:

Advocacy that tries to convince you that the Murtha speech wasn’t news is Orwellian, it’s dishonest. An advocate who will argue that Murtha is wrong, misguided or even a pant-load is honest. But in Jarvis-world, you can’t make distinctions like that because, well, everything is relative. Mostly, the Murtha-isn’t-news drumbeat comes from ideologues who, in days of yore, would have been printing pamphlets, distributing fliers or attending demonstrations. It’s nothing new and nothing reserved for one viewpoint or another.

Whoa, fella. When did I become Big Brother? I had nothing to do with this argument and you’re roping me into this without saying that. I wouldn’t call that fair and balanced. And, again, I think you’re misrepresenting what I say about objectivity and transparency in journalism.

In any case, something sure got in Vaughn’s craw. I don’t really know what it is or why. So I wish I knew more about that perspective. Case in point.

But at least he is acting like a blogger, which is what I suggested he do in advice Vaughn quotes. I said when Public Eye started, vowing to be objective:

Try this on for size: I think there’s no such thing as an objective blogger. Or you’re probably not blogging. You’re probably not talking with people, eye to eye. We’re about to kill the myth that journalists can be thoroughly objective; let’s not start trying to accrete that artificial ethic to blogs.

Oh, yes, Vaughn is plenty opinionated. And that’s a good thing.

: LATER: Jay Rosen reacts to Vaughn in the comments:

You have fallen for your own deceptions, Vaughn, casting yourself as the defender of order and others as the bringers of chaos, instead of trying to describe two different ways of ordering the world, both of which have their chaotic contradictions.

  • Christopher Fotos

    The chief and best argument against making a big deal about Murtha is, as you say, that it wasn’t some bolt-from-the-blue reversal; Murtha’s been all over the map but his latest proclamation would more honestly be portrayed as a climax built upon earlier actions including a vote for Rep. Rangel’s phony bill to revive the draft. And I have checked the quotes and the votes, which are real; and I have checked the Washington Post’s coverage, which has omitted anything that contradicts the “hawkish Democrat” narrative that justified its own Murtha coverage. Today’s reference is just the latest example.

    As an anonymous live-chatter, I even managed to generate a response from Shailagh Murray, a Post congressional reporter, in which she agreed the paper should “address” Murtha’s record. Unfortunately this has yet to be reflected in its Hawkish Democrat coverage.

  • Jimmy

    I just don’t understand why everyone, especially Conservatives, are in an uproar about the Murtha change of heart. Why does it matter? The truth of the matter is the whole Murtha fiasco wasn’t all that big of a deal until Republicans decided to go on attack. Decided to rip into the patriotism and nationalism of a man who’s a decorated war veteran. For God’s sakes, they called him a coward for having the temerity to disagree with their pet Republican president. Now they’re crying bias? Please. This is newsworthy because Republicans made it so by going on a merciless character assassination. So what if he changed his mind about Iraq? Why is that a bad thing? I just don’t understand why Iraq war supporters generate such bile for those who don’t agree with them.

  • laurence haughton

    You’re right. It was an emotional, simplistic post (some might call it pissy). The two pretty much go together.

    And your distinctions make good sense.

    But is it really odd? A lot of the opinionated posts fit that mode. I really wish it was odd.

  • Noel Guinane

    Jeff, you’re an experienced media guy and I’m not, but I think Vaughn Ververs has a point. It’s true that all of our opinions in life are subjective because we form them based on our personal experiences, but that’s no reason not to aim for objectivity when making judgments, especially when it comes to reporting. It’s giving fair coverage to both sides of something, even if you personally disagree with one side or the other.

    It looks to me that the line that should exist between a news organizations’ columnists (offering opinion) and its reporters (offering objective facts) has disappeared. Opinion is all that’s on offer now, but that’s not all people want. They want objective reporting of the facts too, without bias. Maybe journalists can’t be “thoroughly objective”, but it’s their job to try, and I believe it’s the job of any online journalist as well.

    I don’t think it’s enough to just reveal your bias. Sure, you can carve out a niche audience that way, an audience that shares your bias, but the respect you earn will be limited to that niche audience.

    In my opinion, it is better for a reporter to be fair-minded and professional enough to not have to declare a bias.

  • kat

    I am upset because the leftwing loons are trying to pretend it was a sudden change of heart–it wasn’t.
    Jack Murtha is entitled to his opinion. So am I. I think he is cowardly and disloyal.  The little coward posted an on-line poll about the withdrawal. When the results were not to his liking, he pulled it. Being a veteran doesn’t mean you can’t be a traitor. You have John Kerry as a perfect example.

  • Ravo

    Being a veteran doesn’t mean you can’t be a traitor. You have John Kerry as a perfect example.

    Where would this country be if people of that ilk were around at the time of the Normandy invasion.

  • Jay Rosen

    I am upset because the leftwing loons are trying to pretend it was a sudden change of heart–it wasn’t.

    Kat: Since you are clearly not one of them, why do you get upset at what leftwing loons are trying to pretend this week?

  • kat

    Because leftwing loons believe if they say it often enough, they will brainwash the masses into believing their lies. Murtha did not have a sudden change of heart. He has been preaching cut and run for awhile. I expect that part to be reported if the media were to be honest. He said the same thing almost 2 years ago. He’s a partisan hack using his veteran status to deliver the leftist political agenda. It’s supposed to be more believable if the media brands him a Liberal hawk instead of a coward as that marine so aptly did.

  • Jay Rosen

    Yes, I had a hunch “the masses” would figure in your explanation. If I may, who are these masses?

  • Jim S

    Notice how neither kat nor Christopher Fotos address the fact that he voted for the authorization to use force and for the full funding of the war effort. When they attempt to discredit him and the news coverage on his stand they only incidentally imply that yes, while the change in heart may not have just happened it did without a doubt happen. They therefore cannot explain how this “leftwing loon” and “partisan hack” came to those votes and an honest change of heart in his opinion of this war. They therefore have to call him names and degrade him just as the Swifties did to John Kerry. kat also can’t be bothered to follow the news enough to know that the Marine that Schmidt claimed to be quoting has said publicly that he never called a fellow Marine and decorated veteran a coward. She also can’t admit that the Swifties claims were discredited thoroughly.

    And I have worked very hard in this post to not express exactly how I feel about someone like kat or Schmidt calling someone like Murtha a coward. Neither of them have any standing to make them worthy of making that kind of judgement on him. And that is the absolute nicest thing I can say about it.

  • Ravo

    If I may, who are these masses?

    What’s left of the misinformed audience still getting their news from the mainstream media propaganda machine.

  • Eileen

    The “masses” are ALSO (thanks, Ravo) over 50% of the country not represented by left stream media, and who have neither the time or perhaps ability to source their news elsewhere by now. This is why MSM is disintegrating before your very eyes, Jay.

    The masses are wholly fed up left wing bias and lies. They’re sick of the three major networks, the wire services and major newspapers producing the same talking points in lockstep. They’re sick of the choice of what the left considers to be newsworthy – which consists almost entirely of pushing the left wing agenda. They’re sick of all the missing news – that which doesn’t reflect liberal bias.

    How is it, Jay, as Jeff and Public Voice point out, that all the networks and left wing rags decided Murtha was the lead story of the week to begin with? Who sends out the memos?

    How many times do we have to show you with our clickers and subscriptions that the gig is up? At least Jeff promotes transparancy, followed by an effort to find/present objective facts.

    I see Jeff as a realist. Noel is more an idealist, as am I. If media *stuck to the facts* and presented ALL sides of the issues, *honestly*, in a non-leftist agenda driven fashion, there would be no need to confess their bias to begin with. Balance should trump bias.

    That Ververs doesn’t even see there’s an issue as to whether Murther should have been the lead story in the first place speaks volumes. I will continue to not only turn that volume down but off.

    The only hope I see for MSM is if they incorporate moderates and conservatives in equal numbers to their left wing brethren at all levels of their operations. If they do not, then the masses will continue to leave them en masse.

  • Eileen

    Er…please make that Public *Eye*.

  • Ravo

    Liberals work for a defeat to be forced from the jaws of victory – to have a good outcome on the war after all their anti war behavior to destroy Bush, would hurt the Democrats for a long time.

    The terrorists know the lessons of 1968, and count on today’s liberals and media to give them the victory they can’t win on the battlefied, …just like Walter Cronkite and the resultant American protestors did for the North Vietnamese.

    “Vietnam ‘Exit Strategy’ and Iraq: Déjà vu All Over Again?”

  • kat

    The masses are those people gullible enough to actually believe what MSM calls ‘news’. Have you noticed that Lieberman did not get even a fraction of the exposure that Murtha did? Why? Because his message isn’t one promoting the ‘hidden agenda’.
    ( U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman told Iraq’s prime minister Wednesday that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq until their mission is complete, despite growing unease in Congress about the progress of the conflict here.
    “We cannot let extremists and terrorists, a small number, here in Iraq deprive the 27 million Iraqis of what they want which is a better freer life, safer life for themselves and their children” Lieberman said after his meeting with Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
    The Connecticut Democrat, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the cost of success in Iraq would be high “but the cost for America of failure in Iraq would be catastrophic _ for America, for the Iraqi people and I believe for the world.”)
    And no, the Swiftie claims were not discredited. You only want to believe that they were. Just because Kerry discredited them doesn’t make them wrong. I read that book and I believe the Swiftboat vets, not Kerry.
    All I ask is that the media present the whole story–not a version that pushes the hidden agenda of leftwing media. But then they think the terrorists are no different from us according to Chris Mathews. {“If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we’ve given up. The person on the other side is not evil — they just have a different perspective.”} Yeah, they think planes are for driving into tall buildings instead of transportation. Gotta look for root causes and all and figure out how we must blame ourselves instead of a bunch of moonbats who would like nothing better than to fly the moonbat flag on Pennsylvania Avenue for a different perspective. Beheading is not evil, just a different way of looking at things…once we understand that we will all live happily ever after.
    The media is supposed to report news–not be a political wing of the Democrats.
    Anyways Murtha gained a lot of friends in Al Jazeera and other terrorist circles. Anyone who is a hero of terrorists is not fit to be a hero of mine.

  • Eileen

    Ever notice how the terrorist orgs and Arab media/Al Jazeera (thanks, kat) parrot the MSM talking points almost instantaneously following their *lead stories*? If that doesn’t tell you they’re in lockstep with our enemy, nothing ever will.

    So we’ll just have to fight the presently configured MSM like the enemy to the U.S. it actually is.

  • Ravo

    Anyone who is a hero of terrorists is not fit to be a hero of mine.


    ….and you can bet that what these guys do, just like with what Cronkite did, gives plenty of comfort, hope and staying power to the enemy!

    In 1968:
    “According to Giap, these distorted reports were inspirational to the NVA. They changed their plans from a negotiated surrender and decided instead that they only needed to persevere for one more hour, day, week, month, and eventually the protesters in American would help them to achieve a victory they knew they could not win on the battlefield.” – Mike Doty

    Seems to me, that’s just what the Democrats and media are doing that now.

  • Jay Rosen

    Ravo: The masses are “what’s left of the misinformed audience still getting their news from the mainstream media propaganda machine.”

    Eileen: “The ‘masses’ are also over 50% of the country not represented by left stream media, and who have neither the time or perhaps ability to source their news elsewhere by now.”

    kat: “The masses are those people gullible enough to actually believe what MSM calls ‘news’.”

    Most interesting. Thanks.

  • Eileen

    You’re welcome, Jay. Btw, if you’re going to edit my comment, it might be good journalistic practice to indicate you have done so.

    Consider, too, other ways in which the MSM collaborates with our enemy as it decides exactly what it presents as *news*:

    The Enemy on Our Airwaves
    What is the relationship between al-Jazeera, al Qaeda and America’s TV networks?

    Friday, November 4, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

    …..In addition to being subsidized by Qatar, Al-Jazeera has very strong partners in the U.S.–ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, CNN and MSNBC. Video aired by Al-Jazeera ends up on these networks, sometimes within minutes. The terrorists are aware of this access and use it–as in the Ake case–to further their aims. They want to reach the American audience and influence public opinion.The arrangement between the U.S. networks and Al-Jazeera raises questions of journalistic ethics. Do the U.S. networks know the terms of the relationship that Al-Jazeera has with the terrorists? Do they want to know?…

    …Mr. Smith spent nine months in Iraq as a senior media adviser to Ambassador Paul Bremer

  • Jay Rosen

    Btw, if you’re going to edit my comment, it might be good journalistic practice to indicate you have done so.

    Also interesting. It may sound redundant, but thanks again.

  • Ravo

    Thanks for that link Eileen. It’s truly sobering.

  • Eileen

    Jay, if I thought you were the least bit respectful of me or sincere, I’d cut you some slack. But I know from your last name calling tete a tete you are not.

    You edited my comment three different ways! and tried to present it as if it was an accurate quote. Now obviously anyone here can compare what I said and what you said I said. But you of course know the exact changes you made as you purported to quote me. And I am supposed to respect you in return?

    Nothing but the facts, Jay. That’s what we expect from you and the MSM. Your error indicates – like Fervers’ comments – that you guys continue to believe you are our ‘superiors’, ‘our betters’ and our ‘kings’.

    And Ravo. If we were to further explore the business relationships between Al Jazeera and CNN dating from the early stages of the Afghanistan war, for example, it only gets worse and worse and worse…

  • Jay Rosen

    Well, jeez, I’m afraid I’m going to have thank you again, for your most enlightening comments, Eileen, particularly this part: you guys continue to believe you are our ’superiors’, ‘our betters’ and our ‘kings’… coupled with

    “The ‘masses’ are also over 50% of the country not represented by left stream media, and who have neither the time or perhaps ability to source their news elsewhere by now.”

    Fascinating stuff. Cheers.

  • Eileen

    Yep, those were my words, Jay (except for the seond part, heh). I can only hope your sarc was off.

    Fact is, if we met we’d probably find a bridge.

    Sleep well.

  • Eileen

    To Mr. Ververs:

    Balanced news reporting needs to trump your left wing bias.

    G’night All.

  • Noel Guinane

    Eileen, you’re right. I am an idealist, but I’m a pragmatic idealist, that is, the ideals I’m willing to believe in have to be workable in the real world which I accept will never be perfect.

    Blogging gives us the freedom to share opinions. I can hold an opinion that all people with red hair are pyromaniacs and I can blog about this. I could not write a news story stating as fact that all people with red hair are pyromaniacs.

    I see no reason why journalists should not strive to objectively report the facts and give balanced coverage to all sides of what it is they are reporting on, and do not think it is a good idea for people who report news to not bother even trying to uphold those standards whether they are MSM journalists or independent bloggers.

    There is a difference between reporting something as fact and giving us your take on it. A line separates them, or should separate them. In the MSM, it is the columnists who are supposed to serve the opinion side of the business, not its reporters, who in my view should aspire to providing their audience with fact-based, objective reporting and balanced coverage. Instead everyone interprets the news in accordance with their own biases by slanting facts to support their opinion and ignoring facts which contradict their opinion.

    If I am understanding Jeff right, he would like to see more interpretation (or bias or perspective) and less objectivity since in Jeff’s mind aiming for objectivity, balance, fairness … these ideals are lost causes, things that can never work in the real world. All we have to do is declare our bias and then we can get on with giving it free rein.

    If this is truly the future of news – everyone acting like a talk-show host declaring and peddling their own brand of superficial, ill-thought out propaganda, whether it be left, right, backwards, forwards, up or down – then what purpose will the news serve? If, as Jeff suggests, we should “kill the myth that journalists can be thoroughly objective,” even in blogs, what are we left with? News will shift from aspiring to being a source of objective information to being a means of allowing us all to indulge our prejudices and our biases without ever having to consider another point of view. Is this really what we want? Personally, I think standards have dropped enough in the MSM and don’t think journalists need to be encouraged any further in this direction.

    I also think that this is not the future of news. Since we have the opportunity to receive our information from less biased, more objective sources, if we so choose, MSM’s standards will eventually have to rise. But they aren’t going to rise anytime soon by us telling them it’s fine to give primary consideration to their bias and secondary consideration to the mere facts at hand.

  • Carson Fire

    The truth of the matter is the whole Murtha fiasco wasn’t all that big of a deal until Republicans decided to go on attack.

    Wow! Talk about Orwellian! It was only the lead story all over the place, along with mucho MSM commentary and handwringing about how it’s All Over For Bush! Wasn’t a big deal, good grief!

    I don’t think the Murtha story was done out of deliberate bias, though. MSM didn’t all gather in the MSM war room and conspire to promote Murtha. It could be a trap for conservatives to accuse media of such liberal conspiracies when journalists *believe* they are merely reflecting the actual state of things.

    The bias problem for mainstream journalists, I believe, comes from an honest imbalance of gullibility. Hand a typical liberal journalist a memo from the Republican party, and he automatically casts a suspicious eye on it. He will go into — what did Woodward just call it? — hyper-investigative mode, something like that… because he doesn’t agree with the underlying philosophy of conservatives in the first place. That, and the ghost of Richard Nixon, informs that journalist that something *must* be amiss about Republican claims. And if they dig hard enough, they’ll find something — anything — to contradict anything. Even if it’s just the word of some nameless “bipartisan expert” who just happens to be registered as a Democrat.

    At the same time — and we’ve seen this far too often — this same journalist is handed memos, press releases, and sometimes even forged documents from the Democratic party, liberal special interest groups, or simply partisan kooks in a Kinko’s in Texas, and suddenly investigative journalism flies out the window. People want to believe what they already believe. Reporters will only dismiss the overtly incredible, the scant dubiousness being what leads the fringers to accuse liberal reporters of being “media whores”, and embarrassing them into being that much more “hyper-investigative” on conservatives in order to prove that they are not shills for anybody.

    No matter that they’ve been burned before, media just got the same story (Murtha) from the Democratic party and chose not to question the underlying claim that Murtha was a war hawk who just now suddenly did a 180 (which of course would properly be the lead story if not substantially untrue)… just as they didn’t feel any pressing need to investigate the questionable claims of Jimmy Massey, or the dubious war record of John Kerry, even as they were pressing hyper-investigations into the far less relevant TANG record of George W Bush.

    Should liberal journalists be equally gullible about conservative claims? Of course not! If Republicans pull a Murtha, it’s right that the record be corrected. It’s the gullibility on the left *about* the left that’s the problem.

    To some degree, conservatives may also have themselves to blame for avoiding journalism as a career. Despite some wacky fringe claims that the preponderance of journalists are liberal because they are “smarter”, journalism just really isn’t a very attractive career option for conservatives. When I was still a Democrat, I was already turned off early by a couple of journalism instructors who made it fairly clear that journalism was a tool for “changing the world” based on your own personal agenda, as opposed to merely transcribing facts. I felt that it was such a dishonest profession that I would have been more comfortable with a career taking pick-pocket lessons from Fagin. I’m sure many conservatives avoid journalism because it simply isn’t as lucrative as other career choices. Who’s smarter? A low-paid muckraker or a bank manager?

  • Ravo

    But they aren’t going to rise anytime soon by us telling them it’s fine to give primary consideration to their bias and secondary consideration to the mere facts at hand.

    Telling them it’s fine or not fine is moot, since all journalists come with an opinion – some are just more talented at making it look like “the facts” than others are.

    Perhaps a solution is to feature “dualing journos”, each with opposite bias.

  • Noel Guinane

    Ravo, that’s an interesting idea, but where are we going to find journalists honest enough to come out straight and publicly admit to a having a political bias, left or right? Also, why do we want party line right versus party line left debates? We have enough of those already. It might be better if we encouraged independent voices to enter the conversation as well.

    Jeff, instead of asking reporters to reveal the biases you do have because your audience deserves to know them, so they can judge your judgments, something they understandably would be reluctant to fess up to since it would mean painting themselves as partisan hacks, why not encourage them to overcome their personal biases and strive to look at each new story with objectivity?

  • Jorge

    Fair and balanced is a load of crap. I find that truth and honesty to be the energy that fills my void. What is the balance to truth ? Lies ? There is only one way for media to regain any trust from the public . Tell the damn truth ,and it does not matter who gets hurt. Just wishful thinking.

  • Franky

    Judge a site by the comments it attracts. Discuss, Jeff:

  • Noel Guinane

    How can you have truth if you don’t look at both sides of the story? Whose ‘truth’ do you tell? Only the one that agrees with you?

  • Ravo

    Whose ‘truth’ do you tell?

    There’s no one truth in opinion about facts.

    But it’s critical the facts themselves remain unvarnished and undistorted.

    Case in point is the Cronkite example quoted below. It can be argued Cronkite’s distortion, (purposeful or accidental?) which I’ve emboldened, was responsible for the additional deaths of 48,000 service personnel, as the death toll when we cut and ran was 58,000.

    “there were fewer than 10,000 U.S. casualties, the Vietnam War was about to end, and the NVA was prepared to accept their defeat. Then, they heard Walter Cronkite (former CBS News anchor and correspondent) on TV proclaiming the success of the Tet ’68 offensive by the communist NVA. They were completely and totally amazed at hearing that the US Embassy had been overrun. In reality, The NVA had not gained access to the Embassy–there were some VC killed on the grassy lawn, but they hadn’t gained access. Further reports indicated the riots and protesting on the streets of America.

    According to Giap, these distorted reports were inspirational to the NVA. They changed their plans from a negotiated surrender and decided instead that they only needed to persevere for one more hour, day, week, month, and eventually the protesters in American would help them to achieve a victory they knew they could not win on the battlefield.”

    If only Giap had not been encouraged to keep on. We are winning in Iraq. Yet, press reports and the behavior of liberals reflect Cronkite’s style, and give encouragement and comfort to the enemy.

  • Raymond B

    As I went out today and contributed my share of money to the gross domestic product of America, I took time to consider my fellow Americans in the military who are serving abroad. They are performing an admirable job carrying out their assigned mission for the American people, as well as completing a very appreciative service to a foreign country trying to embrace a new concept of freedom. Rather than spend time debating the merits of bringing our soldiers home today or tomorrow I wish to reflect on a moving story I read a day or two ago about soldiers just trying to perform their duty.

    The story revolves around the life of marines in and around Fallujah. I wake up each morning, have my morning drink, take a shower, warm up the car, drive to work, drive home, then relax. After relaxing I turn on the daily news and watch the highlights or hot topics of the Iraq war. The television has sensationalized the war so much that at times I believe people forget these are real people in these 30 second video clips, this is someone’s brother or sister we are watching, not an actor who walks back to his trailer after a filmed battle scene. I hear debate over when the troops should be brought home, the discussion seems so impersonal, I feel that this is the wrong way to discuss this topic, the topic should be nothing but personal.

    Each time I drive down the freeway to work and I see the flag at half staff I throw up a quick prayer for the soldier that flag symbolizes, I may not know him but I know his kind and if praying for him is the least I can do to show my appreciation and respect then I consider it an honor and privilege to do so. I hope in the weeks to come more and more people discuss this topic, do not be discouraged by close-minded people who call you un-American if you discuss this issue. American soldiers such as these same brave men and woman fought for and died for your right to discuss these exact types of issues.

    Educate yourself, speak with your elected officials, do all that you can to support these brave men and women. Do more than just watch a 30 second clip on CNN or Fox News. Get involved, find out information, make an informed comment when you discuss the issue of bringing home our soldiers.
    Raymond B

  • David Crisp

    I can’t imagine a world in which what Murtha said wouldn’t be news, unless it’s a world where the incumbent administration gets to choose the news. Whether it’s the story of the day depends, obviously, on what else happened.

    But having said that, I’m still struggling with Jeff’s argument that reporters should reveal their biases. It’s a point I have heard many times, but I’ve never gotten a handle on exactly how reporters should do that.

    To use myself as an example: I was raised in yellow-dog Democrat country, but I vote independent. I thought the Iraq War was the dumbest foreign policy decision of my lifetime (yes, including Vietnam and the Bay of Pigs) but for reasons closer to Pat Buchanan’s than’s. Because I agree with Colin Powell that we broke it, so we have to fix it, I oppose withdrawal until we are reasonably certain that pulling out is in the best interests of both Americans and Iraqis.

    I don’t know Murtha and have no particular biases one way or another about him, but as a veteran I do have a bias in favor of the opinions of those who have actually fought in wars. But I also have a strong bias in favor of neutral reporting of both sides of controversies.

    So when a guy like Murtha stands up in Congress and calls for withdrawal, do I disclose all of the above? And does the desk editor who polishes my copy? And the copy editor who writes the headline? And the news editor who decides where to play the story? And the editor who hired us all to begin with?

    Even if we were willing to disclose those biases — all of them potentially relevant to how we played the story — would anybody bother to read them? And would they help anybody understand what was really going on?

  • Raymond B

    I consider Murtha a breadth of fresh air. If he is wrong the facts will find him out. However, the fact that he has opened an open and honest discussion about the whole issue is a good thing that neither side of the debate can refute.
    Raymond B

  • Raymond B

    One of the requirements for the exit strategy, or what is now being called the victory strategy, is the stability and formation of the Iraqi army. However, many are now saying that the Iraqi army evolving is becoming as bad, if not worse, than the regimental army that supported Sadaam Hussein previously. Ayad Allawi has accused Shia Muslims in the Government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centers. Ayad has advised that, “The brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Mr. Hussein’s secret police.” Many Shia officials state that justification for the so called Iraqi Army Death Squads stems from the years and years of oppression they suffered under Sadaam Hussein. I do not buy this argument; I do not think we went into Iraq to help one religious group settle a score with another religious group. If this is what is now occurring I think we really need to address our policy in Iraq.
    Raymond B

  • Raymond B

    Hidden Agendas, it may end up being the theme of this conflict.
    The debate over the war, and now the authorization of going to war, has trickled down into a he said she said nasty debate. Both sides are attacking the others stance and opinion so much that I feel like it’s an election year once again. Regardless of who said this, and who agreed to that, we are in the position we are in. This debate is supposed to be about establishing a purpose for our continued presence in Iraq and establishing a sound criterion for our victory\exit strategy.
    However, it now appears that some politicians have turned this into a votes grab by trying to state their opinion, and stance, on the merits of the war, and their pretense for agreeing to go to war.
    Raymond B