Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Journalism of Objective Indifference

Several years ago NPR person Diane Rheem was talking with a guest about the movie Life is Beautiful. She had not seen it. Something about not wanting to laugh at the holocaust. Her guest said “ Life is Beautiful was as much about the holocaust as Shakespeare in Love was about Shakespeare. “ Overflowing in horror she said, “But I don’t want to feel that way about the holocaust.”
And that describes the media’s perspective on the military . They already know how they feel. And they don’t want to think differently. Their emotional investment is too great. Press identity is at stake. Certain of their own correctness, and the worthlessness of the military’s standpoint, the latter is discounted, omitted, distorted and ignored.
Basic facts are botched. They cannot tell brigades from battalions, search and cordon from seize and hold, patrols from petrol. They already know how they feel. They also already know what “the war” is about: mere random violence. They thrive on emotional carnage, package and sell mayhem. They should ask themselves a few questions : “Does the enemy have a strategy? Is there a purpose to an attack on school children? Does our reporting change events on the ground? Are we getting people killed?"Very few will. Facts change us. Presently is it is heresy for reporters to respect soldiers, or even like them. Their vaunted objectivity is an indifference to evil. It feeds the IslamicThanatos cult. Begin to care about soldiers facing it down, enduring hours of boring patrols, day in and day out, spending months away from loved ones and home, the reporting would start to change. Which man deliberately sides with evil? What journalist would still take that vow of objective indifference, burn the slip of paper in his palm, and recite the oaths?

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