A LETTER TO THE MEDIA
By Dr. Ted Miller, Professor of Military Studies USAF Academy 5/25/04
I have long perceived a bias in the mainstream media and have for years been frustrated with its implications for our society and nation. The political slant inherent in modern journalism is no longer unexpected and is even tolerable when social and political issues are the topic of debate.
When media bias begins to affect our national security, however, the threshold of acceptability is crossed. When media takes the side of our enemies because of political differences with our president, it's time to say ''enough is enough.''
My conviction that our mainstream media has indeed crossed that line was cemented last week. Love him or hate him, Michael Savage is a bold, in-your-face radio personality who regularly points out ''the enemy within,'' the politicians and journalists who work against the United States' best interests, whether by pushing backward legislation, distorting the Constitution, or supporting our foreign enemies.
He notes that, whether consciously or blindly, by underhanded political tricks, dishonesty, or left-biased news reporting, they consistently oppose policies, programs, strategies necessary to preserve the strength, freedoms, and prosperity of our nation, and they even obstruct and sabotage our efforts to defeat our terrorist tormentors. The media's big contribution to this effort is reporting that gives the benefit of the doubt to our terrorist enemies, often actually apologizing for American actions against them.
On his radio program last week, Savage painted a vivid picture of the deterioration of American media and the depths to which it has sunk in its opposition to American efforts in our war on terrorism and in its support and encouragement of our enemies.
Savage used simple comparison to highlight the disturbing evolution that has degraded the mainstream media since World War II. Although grammar and semantics were quite similar, the journalists of the 1940s differed from modern journalistics in one important sense. The journalists of that period allowed bias to creep into their stories just as modern media members do. But in contrast to the current focus on American wrong-doing, criticism of policies, attacks on Administration officials, civilian deaths, collateral damage, second-guessing of strategy, angry locals, harsh treatment of captured enemy fighters, and frustration with the U.S. occupation, those journalists were biased in SUPPORT of the American war effort.
They made it clear they were Americans, despite their political orientations, they knew that the support of the American people was vital if we were to defeat the sinister forces threatening the world, and their reporting reflected that understanding and patriotism.
Frequent use of terms like ''enemy,'' ''foe,'' ''bad guys,'' ''Jap,'' etc., to refer to our WWII opponents contrast sharply with the ''insurgents,'' ''freedom fighters,'' ''opposition forces,'' and other benign terms used today. Instead of stories praising heroic Marines decimated by treacherous ''Japs'' who lured their prey in by flying a flag of truce or by whistling the Marine Corps hymn, modern journalists use military setbacks to suggest that the entire military campaign is wrong-headed.
Rather than proudly reporting the story of allied paratroopers who killed over 200 German soldiers on a Dutch bridge when they refused to surrender, modern reporters ignore the hostile fire taken by our helicopters from an Iraqi gathering and report that American troops murdered dozens in a wedding party.
Rather than reporting the military victory the U.S. Navy narrowly won vs. the Japanese at Leyte Gulf and minimizing stories of the campaign's command-and-control failures, modern journalists now, as a rule, focus on the failures and negatives and minimize the positive.
Rather than celebrating our armies' victory against the fight-to-the-death Germans in the Ruhr valley and ignoring the destruction of nearly every house and factory, our reporters today decry the wall of a mosque damaged in a firefight and ignore the fact that terrorists were firing at our boys from this supposedly sacred site.
I am fully aware that sensationalism sells and that capturing scandal, mistakes, and death is your goal. Nevertheless I call on you - editors, producers, writers, reporters, anchors, and on-line media journalists - to take Michael Savage's lead and spend an afternoon in the library, archive, or micro-film room. Peruse the war coverage of the past and then ask yourself what is different about your own coverage.
Once you recognize the shameful deterioration that has occurred since 1941, I call on you to reassess your practices, your biases, and your patriotism. No doubt many of you will be offended that I have questioned your loyalty, but if you honestly weigh your handiwork against past journalism, you will question YOUR OWN patriotism. Consider this an integrity check. How many of you will pass?
Again, I am not surprised and generally not offended by the generic liberal bias of the mainstream media - it's become your trademark. The use of this bias to denigrate, demonize, and undermine the efforts of our military forces and our Commander in Chief and his staff in a time of war, however, does offend me. Your falling subscribership and ratings should tell you that many Americans are equally offended.
I call on you to examine your biases and your practices … and start supporting our troops, our President, and our nation in a non-partisan manner. Your political differences, as during World War II, should not be forgotten, but they should be put on the back burner when reporting on our war effort or national policies.