Doubt and Derision over Baghdad

By Rollins, Karina | The American Enterprise, July-August 2003 | Go to article overview

Doubt and Derision over Baghdad


Rollins, Karina, The American Enterprise


Our nation is still catching its breath after the 24-hour, seven-day-a-week, commercial-free, embedded, reported, re-reported, questioned, analyzed, parroted media frenzy that was the coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Never in the world's history has the combination of technology and reporters at the front lines brought war so vividly into our living rooms. In retrospect, how was the American public served by the correspondents, anchor-men, columnists, pundits, and "embeds" who had the job of describing the fight in Iraq?

Let's start with TV. The Media Research Center (MRC), whose staff studies such matters for a living, concludes that, on the whole, "reports from embedded journalists were refreshingly factual and were mostly devoid of commentary." Yet back in the studios, "television's war coverage was plagued by the same problems detected during previous conflicts: too little skepticism of enemy propaganda, too much mindless negativism about America's military prospects, and a reluctance on the part of most networks to challenge the premises of the anti-war movement."

MRC analysts took in virtually every second of the TV war coverage and issued a report card on the major channels. ABC scored the worst by far, with a grade of D-. "ABC's reporters presented the most adversarial and negative coverage of the American war effort." Their man in Baghdad, Richard Engel, "did the most to play up Iraqi claims of civilian suffering at the hands of Americans." Ted Koppel was dreadful--"the rare embedded journalist who spent his time lecturing and pontificating instead of recounting the historic events that surrounded him, as the MRC summarizes. On the very first day of the war, as his unit pushed into enemy territory and battle swirled around him, Koppel chose not to describe what he was witnessing but to opine to Peter Jennings: We ought to take note of the significance of what is happening here because this is an invasion that in this particular case, of course, was not prompted by an invasion of the United States. I know that members of the administration have been creating a tenuous linkage between al-Qaeda and the Iraqis so that there is that linkage between 9/11 and what's happening here now ..." and on and on.

Jennings, ABC's anchor, got a flat F. "More than any other anchor," reports the MRC, he "zeroed in on purported weaknesses and failings in the U.S. effort to win support among liberated Iraqis." On the March 22 edition of "World News Tonight," for instance, Jennings disparaged Iraqi pro-American celebrations of the day before: "Yesterday we saw

images of a jubilant reception in the southern Iraqi town of Safwan where soldiers stood by as people tore down a picture of Saddam Hussein and jumped in the streets, at least for the cameras." For the cameras? Why would Iraqis fake their celebrations?

Strangely, Jennings never questioned the sincerity of pro-Saddam rallies which took place under the eye of the fedayeen. This despite reports by John Quinones, one of ABC's own reporters, that many of the participants were coerced. He taped a teacher stating, "we were forced to say it. We were, we were obliged to do.... If we don't do it, we're killed or arrested or destroyed."

On April 9, the day that statues of Saddam Hussein fell across Iraq, Peter Jennings gave his most bizarre commentary yet. Either out of utter detachment from reality, vapidness of mind, or a willful attempt to put a damper on the party, he said this during live coverage:

   Saddam Hussein may have been, or may be, a vain man,
   but he has allowed himself to be sculpted heavy and
   thin, overweight and in shape, in every imaginable costume--both
   national, in historic terms, in Iraqi historic
   terms--in contemporary, in every imaginable uniform,
   on every noble horse. The sculpting of Saddam Hussein,
   which has been a growth industry for 20 years, may well
   be a dying art. 

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Doubt and Derision over Baghdad
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.