Picture below is from the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City.
I stay out of specific politics on this blog, but now that both candidates have come down to nuanced but similar policies of staying in Iraq as long (or as short) as the need exists, I feel a little freer to ask what the hell is wrong with the American media?
During the bad days in Iraq, not long ago, they were writing the American obituary. They had no trouble finding and quoting experts telling why we couldn’t win in this sort of environment. Now they cannot seem even to notice success. Isn’t that an extraordinary story? In the heart of the Middle East, on a battlefield chosen by Al Qaeda as their key front for their war against civilization, in a place where they proclaimed the beginning of their new caliphate we have driven them to virtual extinction. As they cower in their spider holes, fearing the arrival of our Marines or our Iraqi allies, their frustration is palpable. This was supposed to be their victory, not ours. They thought they had the weight of events on their side; they were mistaken. Why is this not story worthy of investigation and exposition by our esteemed journalists?
My experience with journalists informs me that many, perhaps most, work from their existing models and do not actively seek out information that disconfirms them. They have a narrative that is generally accepted by other people in the media and that tends to constrain their perceptions. This is not something limited to journalists, but they are particularly susceptible precisely because they think they are not.
The narrative that their conventional wisdom accepted was that Iraq was mostly lost and that we were in a holding pattern heading for a long term failure and withdrawal. They fixed the various data points around their narrative and the stories more or less made sense back in 2006. This narrative is now unraveling but the MSM has yet to figure out a new one to replace it. It is not a conspiracy, but it is a syndrome, a kind of a group-think. It will take a lot of changed facts and a couple of courageous leading journalists to break out. We have the changed facts on the ground; what we need now is the courage.
BTW – I was reading one couragous journalist today. People who have been here recently know a lot more. Stay away from those pundits and bloggers who have been to Iraq years ago … or never.