Censoring the Military Embeds

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One could devote a lifetime—or at least the better part of a year—to chronicling all the propaganda-like tricks the Bush administration and the military have pursued over the past few years. Here’s a new one, courtesy of Rod Norland, Newsweek‘s former bureau chief:

The military has started censoring many [embedded reporting] arrangements. Before a journalist is allowed to go on an embed now, [the military] check[s] the work you have done previously. They want to know your slant on a story — they use the word slant — what you intend to write, and what you have written from embed trips before. If they don’t like what you have done before, they refuse to take you. There are cases where individual reporters have been blacklisted because the military wasn’t happy with the work they had done on embed.

What’s fun here is that the two sides in the ongoing debate over the Iraq war can see this development with radically different eyes. The pro-war camp—that is, the camp that believes that the war’s basically going well despite some setbacks, and that we can pacify Iraq and “win” if only the American public would just backbone up for the long haul, and that only the media can “lose” this war by reporting too much bad news and causing people to doubt the wisdom of the occupation—well, they’ll likely applaud this decision and say that the military has no obligation to take on reporters working at cross-purposes with the war effort.

The anti-war camp, of course, will say that accurate reporting is necessary so that the public can see that this war is an utter failure and our continuing presence only making things worse and getting people killed, and that having the military censor the media will only obfuscate that reality and prolong our futile presence in Iraq. I’m certainly of that camp, and think the accuracy of those “cheerleading” journalists who would no doubt be approved by military censors tends to leave much to be desired… Needless to say, this isn’t a good development at all.

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