So I should write part III, but it is 5:30 am and I am just getting done for the day, so I thought I would share this instead. A couple of California high school students who are studying about journalism, asked The Grump if I thought the media lied about current events. Here is my response. I'll get part III out this weekend unless I get a breakthrough on a few projects I am working here. By projects, I of course mean scumbags we want out of the picture.
Thank you for your letter, and your question. I am no expert on the news business, but I will give you my perspective.
Whether or not reporters tell the truth is a rather difficult question to answer. While there may be a few reporters out there who do lie to further their own careers, I think that most journalist start their careers with honorable intentions and a desire to tell the truth. And most never lie on purpose, but fail to do a good job of checking their facts. The reality is, especially in a place like Iraq, the truth is very hard to discern. And most reporters here never leave Baghdad, so anything you read in the paper was probably told to the reporter by a source, or a local Iraqi who called the reporter. And sometimes reporters simply report what other reporters wrote.
Plus there is the fact that most Western reporters do not speak the local language, and this will be true for reporting in any non-English speaking country, so all the information comes through an interpreter. The interpreter may get it wrong because they aren't very good in English, and sometimes the interpreter tells the reporter the wrong thing on purpose. Pretty messy and complicated isn't it?
While I have been here in Iraq, I have personally been involved in 2 incidents which were reported in the international media. I saw these things happen with my own eyes and yet they were reported wrong in every report I read. Not 100% wrong, but some important facts were wrong in every news article, and each news article got different things wrong.
This is of course called the Fog of War, and for good reason. I submit that no one knows what the hell is going on in Iraq - it is just too complicated, and everyone reporting information has alterior motives for their reporting, and every time in gets passed on it mutates a little. Like the telephone game on crack.