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September 4, 2010
Memo to colleagues from AP standard's editor:
From where I sit this is welcome, the media buy-in on this particular narrative has been disturbing, and raises broader concerns. As previously noted here, one can make the case that the war is ongoing (as the AP apparently will) or that it ended a couple years ago ("We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq..." the memo explains - though exactly when that happened isn't specified), but any case for "change" occurring this month is purely Orwellian.
Glenn Greenwald believes the AP is acting out of jealousy at having been left out of an NBC exclusive. He notes the NBC/MSNBC coverage included the familiar goosebumps and shivers references that must be (I suspect) in some memo to colleagues on the peacock letterhead:
As Olbermann indicated, Maddow was in Baghdad's "Green Zone," and she explained: "it is really, really hot right now. But yet, seeing what we just saw, right here live with that gate closing, the last U.S. combat troop, I'm totally covered in goose bumps. It is an important moment."More from Geenwald:
By offering it exclusively to both NBC and MSNBC, the Pentagon ensured that this narrative would be given the Seriousness imprimatur from NBC, and would produce base-pleasing, Obama-favorable praise from MSNBC personalities. Having Engel embedded in a Stryker vehicles as it "rolled out" of Iraq, and Maddow stationed in the Green Zone, added to the historic tone of the evening. As The New York Times' Brian Stelter reported: "David Verdi, an NBC News vice president, added, 'The military had said, 'You are the ones who are going to broadcast it first'." About that, Mediaite's Steve Kraukauer wrote: "That's a stunning admission, and shows a degree of coziness between both sides here." With this cooperative venture, the White House got exactly the coverage it wanted: the repeatedly hyped claim that under Barack Obama, "American combat forces are leaving Iraq," as Olbermann intoned at the start.
But there's a bit of a stretch here - the only "exclusive" NBC got was a ride-along with the actual brigade, and it's not likely any NBC-competitor would have been denied the same access had they wanted it. From the coverage I saw on CNN, their enthusiasm wasn't dampened by not having a reporter actually in this month's south-bound convoy.
Added: I got the distinct impression Greenwald is convinced the Pentagon is somehow orchestrating this little Iraq charade to please the occupants of the White House. That may be so - there are any number of folks in high enough places there who very literally owe their jobs to the current president. But take a look at how Secretary Gates himself described the events of the day to the American Legion: "Tomorrow, Operation Iraqi Freedom will officially become Operation New Dawn, a change that recognizes that Iraqis have assumed full responsibility for their own security." There's a subtle message in those carefully chosen words emphasizing nothing more than a name change - and another subtle message in the words not spoken. And among other terms unspoken were any claims that the last combat brigade has left Iraq, or even that American combat in Iraq was a thing of the past. The closest point to the Party Line was a reference to "the end of the formal combat mission" - and in a quote like that from a man like that the extra modifier ("formal," if you missed it) is not something uttered without careful thought and consideration.
Of course, subtlety is lost on folks looking for goosebumps and shivers.
Posted by Greyhawk / September 4, 2010 7:48 AM | Permalink
A brief review from part one:Here's a graph from an earlier post, with a couple of additions. This depicts American combat deaths in Iraq from late 2006 to now, as recorded and reported by icasualties.org. For a full explanation of what you're seeing, ... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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