Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Mainstream Media Needs an Intervention

I’ve avoided writing about the Scott Thomas Beauchamp (STB) affair up until now because I’ve been so caught up in the excitement of seeing the story unfold that I thought I had nothing at all to add. Now that STB has been proven to be a hoax and I’ve got some time on my hands to reflect on it, I wanted to share with you something that has just struck me.

The primary problem with the whole affair is not that the Mainstream Media (MSM) has once more slandered the military or fallen for a false story or failed to check their facts, it’s that they ever believed STB in the first place. I don’t mean from a technical sense, either. Reporters and editors are, for the most part, generalists and it may not be reasonable to expect them to know that a Bradley Fighting Vehicle can’t sneak up on nor swerve to hit dogs. They probably can’t be expected to know that remote bases and posts are carefully watched places and that you can check the daily muster to see who has been there. Being charitable to them, we could also say that they also couldn’t be expected to know how rare women are in such places and how quickly the male soldiers and marines get to know the appearance of each one, particularly one with a burned face.

What we must expect them to know is the human side of the subjects they are covering. While they may be generalists in a technical sense, through the course of their interviews and reporting, we would expect them to become experts on human nature. The most staggeringly appalling part of the STB story is that they ever thought that STB’s stories of the dehumanizing aspect of war to be true at all. I come from a military family. I work every day with marines and sailors. Almost all of them have been in Iraq or Afghanistan. Not one of them exhibits a “dehumanized” aspect to their character, not even the SPECOPS folks that I know. While some can be fatalistic or ruthlessly practical at times, none of them show streaks of cruelty or callousness. In fact, they are some of the most helpful and understanding people I know. There are certainly the self-important and pompous among them, but “inhumane” is not a word I would associate with any of them.

How is it possible for The New Republic (TNR) to have gotten this so wrong? They weren’t even close. It shows they have no business at all reporting on this subject as they clearly know absolutely nothing about it or the people involved. It’s not just that they guessed and were off the mark a bit; they were 180 degrees out of phase with reality. They are as unqualified to write about the military as I am to write about Hindu theology. Their brethren in the MSM are clearly incompetent in this area as well as none of them called the story into question when it was so clearly wrong to any of us who actually work with the people generalized by STB.

When the Duke Lacrosse team rape story was finally shown to have been a fraud, some members of the MSM claimed that the narrative was right, but the facts were wrong. I’m sure that will be claimed here as well. The trouble with that is that this narrative isn’t right at all. Anyone who has worked with the military for any length of time and has an open mind on the subject would immediately know this. This wasn’t as much slander or libel on the part of TNR as it was closed-minded bigotry on a cosmic scale. The MSM doesn’t need to be sued or criticized, they need to be encouraged to somehow change their general beliefs about the people in the military in the same way as if it were racist screeds they had been publishing instead of STB’s hate-filled spew.

Many posts have been written filled with scathing condemnation of TNR and their silently assenting MSM brethren. I would suggest that these are misplaced. I think that the TNR story and its cousins elsewhere in the MSM qualifies for an anthropological study to try to discover just how such a fantastic notion became stuck in their minds in the first place. Just as children raised in the household of an Aryan Nation member grow up with incorrect notions of racial differences, it’s clear that Franklin Foer and his ilk have grown up in some part of society that holds preposterously wrong notions of the nature of our men and women in the military.

Perhaps they need an intervention the way someone raised in a cult would.

1 comment:

Vic Burton said...

As a former Infantry soldier and combat veteran I have to whole heartedly agree with your post. Nice to know I'm not the only one that thinks this way.