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We've reached the midpoint of the year, and this past week also saw the posting of the 1000th entry on the Mudville Gazette. (Disclaimer: There have been other temporary entries that have been deleted or combined, thus the number of posts is higher than the surviving entries.) Most full-time bloggers would likely consider this a low number of posts for 16 months, but such is the life of a MilBlogger - other things take priority.
Still, I determined to mark the occasion by compiling an update to a previous list done last New Years, a Mudville's Greatest Hits. Those posts that were most visited, in this case for the year 2004 to date, regardless of my personal preferences etc. This exercise admittedly began as a bit of self-congratulatory fluff, but in reviewing these entries I found a similarity in many of them that seemed especially appropriate to note in light of this week's transfer of authority in Iraq: they all dealt with media bias, in many cases a bias that seemed at cross-purposes with the goals of the US mission there.
At the that time they were current many thought that the individual media stories reviewed below were overtly anti-American. Perhaps they were. Viewed collectively the full list (along with so many others that didn't make this list) at least certainly highlights some of the difficulties faced by the Coalition in achieving its goals - difficulties presented both by the nature of warfare and global politics, and by the perception of same cultivated by a media that appears increasingly other-than neutral to a growing number of people.
I hope this compilation can serve as a launching point for future efforts, here in Mudville and elsewhere. This sort of thing should be increasingly common in a thriving blogosphere. Here in chronological order from date of publication, Mudville's Greatest Hits II.
You're Getting Warmer...
A few months before the release of the summer laugh-fest The Day After the British newspaper The Observer published a piece "exposing" a "secret Pentagon report" detailing that the earth was going to end catastrophically in a matter of a very few years due to the effects of global warming, and that the President of the United States knew it. I googled a few key names and detailed the result in the linked entry. My format for presenting the actual facts so blatantly ignored by the Guardian could probably only be used in the Blogosphere. My use of the father/son approach seemed an obvious choice to explain to those who might be tempted to take such a story at face value why a bit of further investigation might be worth their time. I was accused of shooting the messengers - a charge I was not guilty of but one that would be repeated in virtually every entry that follows below. Exposing non-factual information, presenting additional facts, revealing a lack of implied qualification of "experts" or questioning the presence of agendas that override any consideration of truth is quite different from "shooting the messenger." I have open comments for those who'd care to refute anything I say here, but dismissing fact-supported efforts with such an unsupported claim is an actual example of "shooting the messenger". (Chuckling)
Atrocities in Fallujah (and Elsewhere)
The LA Times on their decision to display graphic images from Fallujah: 'While showing the images could erode support for the war, not showing them could have an opposite effect." So they showed them. Media bias? Such issues have been raised countless times since, but it was the brutal killings of contractors in Fallujah that marked a turning point in coverage of Iraq (though perhaps it was just another bend in a long and twisted road). In the minds of many the media seems to have only one filter to determine whether graphic images will be repeated endlessly: will this help or harm the American cause? From this to Abu Ghraib to "flag-draped coffins" to beheadings of Americans and others, the filter has been used, often with the opposite of the desired effect (see "flag-draped coffins" - images that engendered support for Americans and vanished rather rapidly from the public eye) I think they tipped their hand in this self-assessment of coverage of the Fallujah episode, revealing a bias so deep they can't see it - even when it's in black and white.
I didn't "break" the story on Kos' inexcusable response to the horrors of Fallujah, but as a military blogger I was involved in coordinating a response. And I did bring to light the minor fact reported in Heh - that as with most such actions the results were a ton of publicity and a huge upswing in visitors. (Yes - ironically this entry makes Mudville's most visited list.)
UN In Action
Immediately before Seymour Hersh and 60 Minutes "discovered" the Abu Ghraib story three American prison guards were shot and killed by a fellow guard at a UN-run prison in Kosovo. Described as a "Palestinian from Jordan", the shooter was killed by return fire from others in the group he had attacked. The full story is convoluted and incomplete, and the UN apparently wants it that way. An information clampdown was imposed immediately, big media ignored the story, and to this day there have been no significant updates. Mudville began following the story here and has made numerous follow-ups. Murder by fellow UN "peacekeepers" of two American women and one man apparently isn't newsworthy. Perhaps if there were nude photos...?
If you're going to recount a series of events in hopes of clarifying what happened, chronological order is often a useful approach - perhaps the only logical one. The fact that Seymour Hersh knows this and yet jumbled the sequence in his "expose" of the events at Abu Ghraib led me to wonder what the story would read like if the facts were told in a logical manner. This is the result, and in my humble opinion it reads quite differently then Seymour's original piece. A follow up entry here was the first exposure of the connection between Hersh and one of the accused, who was the actual "leak" of the story to the press. (A connection later at least partially verified in a story buried in the New York Times)
The Greyhawk Factor
with links to the previous series on Abu Ghraib. After the timeline Hersh's appearance on O'Reilly revealed more of his agenda and several weak points in his defense of the accused torturers from Abu Ghraib.
Abu Ghraib was an aberration, a tragic and horrible consequence of war. Those who would distort the truth or obstruct it's discovery for their own personal or political gain should be (at the very least) exposed. Mudville led the way in watchdogging the media on this issue, but that watchdog function is a rapidly developing role of the blogosphere in current events, and one at which an increasing number of bloggers excel.
Media spin was virtually out of control by this point, and knowing who was attempting legitimate reporting, who was being deceptive, and who was being deceived was perhaps completely and utterly impossible. In this "watchdog" function there's a fine line between desire for finding the truth and sheer paranoia, but sadly, previous examples cited above might lead one to believe an agenda was being pursued.
Shortly after, the first of the beheading videos made its way onto the internet. The issues of what images should and shouldn't be shown and who is responsible for the actions of others were debated anew. And so it goes.
But arguably, the images question as framed today dates back to 911 (don't most issues?), when networks decided to stop replaying the coverage out of stated concerns for the sensitivity of the audience. I note with some pride that the most visited page in Mudville in 2004 was actually first posted in September 2003 marking the anniversary of that tragic day. Unlike the stories above, this one has not been linked by any "giants" of the blogosphere, has apparently risen to the top on it's own merit and virtual "word of mouth". It's also a story I certainly don't consider "mine" as it's a recounting of the heroism of one man on that day. Rick Rescorla's name should live forever.
Popularity of entries determined by hit count on 30 June 2004 as determined by onestat sitemeter.
If a tree falls in the blogosphere and no one links, does anyone care? Special thanks to the many referrers who made these pages the most visited. In random order:
And if it weren't for readers I'd never be read. Thanks to you for being here.
Congratulations!! It's a great site and you should be VERY proud of what you've accomplished.
Love the Greatest Hits VII list, it's like a walk down memory lane!!
Here's to many many more great posts.Posted by Tammi at July 1, 2004 03:42 AM
Thank YOU for providing it tp us Grey!Posted by BloodSpite at July 1, 2004 08:18 AM
Thank you for the privilege, it's always a pleasure to visit your site, wish I had more time to visit more often.Posted by Jack at July 2, 2004 05:36 AM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(3) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)