Wednesday, September 23, 2009
unfairly slime conservatives but also in the picking of the stories they choose to run and the placement given to particular stories. The MSM can be counted on to not just run stories that portray conservatives in a bad light but to give those stories prominent 'above the fold' placement while either not running at all stories that reflect badly on liberals or, if they are run, burying them inside the folds of the paper.
Given this, it is pretty much a given that any story run on the top of Page A1 will follow the above guidelines... it will be either a hit piece on conservatives or a promo for some liberal cause.
So I have to admit, I was initially puzzled by the Washington Post's lead story today: "Less Peril for Civilians, but More for Troops As U.S. Toll in Afghanistan Rises, Lawmakers And Families Are Questioning New Restrictions"
The article addresses claims that the military's restrictive rules of engagement are valuing Afghan civilians more highly than American soldiers and leading to more American deaths than would be the case if our soldiers were given more leeway in seeking out and confronting the enemy.
And the story - surprisingly - doesn't depict critics as being petty and small minded, bigoted or motivated by greed, the story actually is respectful to them and their positions.
So... what is the Post's motivation in running this story and running it now? Let's run through some possibilities...
First, let's eliminate the unlikely candidates. No, the Post hasn't developed a soft side for American soldiers and marines. No, there is no pro-military mole at the Post who snuck in late and night and substituted this article for the typical anti-military story the Post would be expected to run.
My guess is that the story is an attack on General McChrystal, who implemented these policies, at a time when he is arguing for more troops for Afghanistan (and, reportedly, threatening to resign if he doesn't receive the support he is asking for). What better way of knocking the guy than by portraying him as responsible for the unnecessary deaths of American soldiers? Why should Obama give McChrystal more troops if he isn't taking care of them? What better way of scaring military families than by claiming that the generals care less about their sons and fathers and brothers than they do about some peasant farmer? What better way of giving Democrat Congressmen some talking points about how they're not opposing an increase in troops levels because they're anti-war but rather because they care too much about our troops than to send them where they're going to be placed at even greater risk because - in the view of their commanders - American troops have to die in order to 'win the hearts and minds' of the Afghans?
What makes this whole story a bit surreal is that I've been making the same points myself, and going back to Iraq. I very much hate the calculus that puts American soldiers in a position where they're not allowed to defend themselves. I hate the policy that requires field commanders to think about anything other than doing what they need to do to keep their soldiers safe.
And now the Washington Post jumps in. Strange bedfellows indeed.