The Truth Hurts
During the media attacks during his Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign, John O'Neil took solace in the wisdom of bomber pilots, who were known to say, 'you don't know you're over the target until you start taking flack.'
In that context, Mark Yost seems to have scored a direct hit with his recent column about the mainstream media's failures in its coverage of the Iraq war.
Some of his distinguished colleagues in the journalist community are are stomping their feet and pounding their fists with outrage that someone from within would dare question their methods and accuracy. And they are taking their aggressions out in Forum section at media commentary site Poynter Online.
Interspersed throughout are pro- and mostly con- reactions from his brethren. An example, from Pioneer Press Charles Laszewski. Read along and try to discern where this guy's reportorial priorities are (emphasis mine):
The fact that you think the activities of every VFW and American Legion hall should trump a front page story on plans to finally withdraw our brave men and women from Iraq shows you don't even grasp the fundamentals of journalism and putting out a newspaper.
There is much more I could say, but let me end it this way. With your column, you have spat on the copy of the brave men and women who are doing their best in terrible conditions. More than 20 reporters have died in Iraq from around the world. You have insulted them and demeaned them, and to a much lesser degree, demeaned the reporters everywhere who have been threatened with bodily harm, who have been screamed at, or denied public records, just because they wanted to present the closest approximation to the truth they could. I am embarrassed to call you my colleague.
Yes, those brave men and women in Iraq, doing their best in terrible conditions .... the press corps! They're being "screamed at." I guess war really is hell.
Here's another outcry, from Knight Ridder reporter Hannah Allam, characterizing the average military officer's experience in Iraq:
Mr. Yost could have come with me today as I visited one of my own military buddies, who like most officers doesn't leave the protected Green Zone compound except by helicopter or massive convoy. The Army official picked me up in his air-conditioned Explorer, took me to Burger King for lunch and showed me photos of the family he misses so terribly. The official is a great guy, and like so many other soldiers, it's not politics that blind him from seeing the real Iraq. The compound's maze of tall blast wall and miles of concertina wire obscure the view, too.
Damn those pampered Army officers in Iraq! Hannah, remind me again, who the real heroes are again:
Perhaps Mr. Yost would be moved by our office's tribute wall to Yasser Salihee, our brave and wonderful colleague, who at age 30 joined the ranks of Iraqi civilians shot to death by American soldiers.
The US military - when they're not driving their air conditioned SUVs to Burger King, they're mowing down ranks of brave and wonderful Iraqi civilians.
These letters present a shocking glimpse of the perspective of the people the media have assigned to tell us the truth about what is happening in Iraq.
Thanks to Mark Yost for taking a stick and prodding his colleagues enough to get them to crawl out and reveal themselves in the light of day. He's now taking some heat from his coworkers, some calling for his dismissal. Don't worry about Mark, he's a Navy man, he can take it. But if you think Yost's commentaries are a benefit to the news consumers in this town, a note to Pioneer Press management would be in order. They are certainly going to be hearing from the other side. Most of whom happen to also work there.