Regular readers will know that Murdoc’s biggest pet peeve is clueless coverage of the military by Legacy Media. In many cases this cluelessness manifests itself as simple misidentification of equipment or units, and (while a bit irritating) this cluelessness is basically harmless.
But some times the cluelessness is the basis for misreporting things in a way that actually matters. This crosses the line from “pet peeve” into far more serious territory.
The latest example of this is CNN’s coverage (available at Exposing the Left) of the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi blooper reel, in which the (former?) leader of Al Qeada in Iraq has trouble with his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon:
“This weapon is an American weapon. It’s called a SAW, or Squad Automatic Weapon, a very heavy machine gun which has a very heavy trigger; it’s not easy to fire, and in fact it might be quite understandable that anyone–even somebody with weapon’s experience, wasn’t familiar with this particular weapon might have trouble firing off more than a single shot at a time…
My guess is that at least two-thirds of MO readers realize what a load of utter B.S. this claim is, so I won’t bother fisking it here. Confederate Yankee and CounterColumn have a lot of great info. Cluelessness at its zenith.
But worse than that, it’s troubling that members US media would be trying to offer excuses for Zarqawi’s ineptitude. Maybe not surprising. But troubling.
I want to be very clear about this. I don’t care if all those clueless claims about the M249 were accurate. What is the motivation behind apologizing for Zarqawi? I’m going to use a word here that I often use in this sort of situation. That word is “unpatriotic”.
So there’s no misunderstanding: Offering up excuses for the leadership of America’s enemy during a time of war is UNPATRIOTIC.
Even if the M249 was a “very heavy machine gun” that’s “not easy to fire”, reporting this in this manner is an attempt to undermine a tactical effort by the US military to counter a terrorist’s propaganda campaign. That is unpatriotic.
But the claims about the weapon are patently untrue, and that means that CNN went out of its way to undermine a tactical effort by the US military. The truth wouldn’t help undermine the US effort, so they misrepresented the facts in order to do so.
Getting a piece of technical military information wrong is one thing. Using that ignorance (intentional or accidental) to make a point is something else entirely.
For instance, a recent picture of a Stryker I posted here on MO was captioned by the DoD as belonging to a unit that doesn’t exist. Oops. Pretty dumb. But it didn’t change the meaning of the picture in the way that, (hypothetically speaking) calling an artillery shell a piece of “remains of a missile” might.
Political “sides” aside, Legacy Media would probably benefit greatly from increased use of embedded reporters. Not only would the viewers at home be much more likely to see a well-informed piece of journalism once in a while, but a better understanding of the military would probably filter into the organization. However, journalists who embed with military units are generally considered to be “tainted“.
Joe Katzman at Winds of Change writes:
So, how did CNN and the New York Times react? Two ways:
- Offer your viewers a ton of misinformation about one of the US military’s most common weapons; and
- Spin for Zarqawi to explain away his lapse.
I wish both of those statements were untrue, but they are not. CNN’s complete misinformation cock-up, from the person who is supposed to be its Senior Pentagon Correspondent, is both a nice mirror of Zarqawi’s own fumblings, and a classic example of why the media does such a horrible job covering the military. CNN and the NY Times’ excuses for Zarqawi’s pathetic performance, however, belong in another category entirely.
With friends like CNN, who needs enemas?