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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Mainstream Press Launches Preemptive Strike on the Blogosphere

Picked-up this story from a morning recon into the enemy territory known as The Democratic underground:

Bloggers, Money Now Weapons in Information War

Now when I saw the headline, I thought this article may be about an active conspiracy hatched, driven, and directed by the by the military in an effort to subvert the blogosphere for propaganda purposes. The article, however, talks about something much less sinister:
Retired soldier Bill Roggio was a computer technician living in New Jersey less than two months ago when a Marine officer half a world away made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

Frustrated by the coverage they were receiving from the news media, the Marines invited Roggio, 35, who writes a popular Web log about the military called "The Fourth Rail" ( ), to come cover the war from the front lines.
So a reporter is invited by the Marines to ride along and report what goes on. Not much different than when the DoD invited (and continues to invite) mainstream media journalists to embed and ride along with the troops starting with the initial invasion of Iraq. As we all know, they were all over that. As the adage goes, "if it bleeds, it leads".
He raised more than $30,000 from his online readers to pay for airfare, technical equipment and body armor. A few weeks later, he was posting dispatches from a remote outpost in western Anbar province, a hotbed of Iraq's insurgency.
Yup, Bill Roggio, like every other reporter in Iraq, still had to pay for his own equipment, which his readers graciously paid for. Which says something about the amount of demand that people have for this kind of journalism.

What kind of journalism is that? The Michael Yon style of journalism where someone who has spent time in the military (Army Special Forces in his case), goes and simply reports what's going on, for good or bad, from a ground-floor level.

What caused me to groan and roll my eyes was the inclusion of news regarding the allegation concerning the monetary support of local Iraqi media by the military. In the mind of the reporters in the mainstream media, this automatically MUST mean that our military is paying them to print only what our military wants them to print:
A local U.S. Army National Guard commander acknowledged that his officers "suggest" stories to the station and review the content of the program in a weekly meeting before it is aired. Though the commander, a lieutenant colonel whose name is being withheld because he is based in the same area, denied that payments were made to the station, the Iraqi television producer said his staff got $1,000 a month from the military. It does not disclose any financial relationship to viewers. There was no explanation of the discrepancy between that amount and the figure of $600 per week provided by Blanton.

"The coalition forces support us," said the producer, who added that while the U.S. military reviews each program, "they don't change anything."
Therefore, the Iraqi producer's admission virtually makes this a non-story. Even so, use of propaganda in war is nothing new. I find it particularly telling that the WaPo doesn't delve into exactly what news story's were favorable! You'd think they couldn't find someone who speaks Arabic and English.

Note that this mention is irrelevant to Bill Roggio. There is no evidence he is being paid by the military to print propaganda, or at least none the WaPo has produced in this story. After all, who the hell raises money to spend on a trip to one of the most dangerous places on earth without more than $30k (before expenses, mind you) worth of incentive?

Notice also the sad attempt by the WaPo to sling mud in response to their reporting being called into question by the military, not to mention their willingness to be accomplices in terrorist-staged propaganda.

Yet this still is irrelevant to the Bill Roggio trip to Iraq.

Why is the military allowing him to tag-along? Because they are fed-up with the status quo reporting they get from mainstream sources:
"His reporting was objective, credible and compelling. But most of all, it was independent," Pool said. "He didn't have to worry about some editor back in the States altering what he wrote before it got published. Plus, he had no competition from other news sources to churn out a 'marketable' product on a day-to-day basis."
On other words, they just want honest reporting. Most likely they've read or at least witnessed the reaction to the excellent account from Michael Yon, in which he followed a battalion from the 24th Infantry Division as it fought to drive the terrorists out of Mosul. A series that starkly contrasted the defeatist news regularly reported back home.

In my assessment, those in the mainstream media are worried. The rise of so-called "Pajamas Media" has provided anyone with an internet connection virtually unlimited alternative news and views without having to subscribe to a newspaper or wait for it to be broadcast on TV. Now with the success of Yon and the grass-roots support of Roggio, we are seeing the mainstream media lose control in the one area where they had a monopoly on: war.

So I see this article as more of an preemptive attempt at damage control by attempting to discredit Bill Roggio before he becomes another Mike Yon. Lord knows we don't want the public to know that you don't need a journalism degree or a position in a major media outlet to accurately report what's going on.

(you can check out Roggio's dispatches here)


Bill Roggio answers this article, and lists numerous errors and attempts to set the record straight.