Agam's Gecko
Wednesday, December 28, 2005

he Washington Post runs a poorly researched piece on freelance journalist / blogger Bill Roggio (who just returned home from Iraq last week), in an apparent attempt to tie him to their pre-filled, paint by numbers portrait of Pentagon Disinformation Operations. Unfortunately, the WaPo writers got basically everything about Bill Roggio wrong -- and lots more besides. Roggio sets the record straight, leaving me wondering how the two WaPo writers can even think of themselves as journalists.

It's abundantly clear from this incident that their purpose could not have been to disseminate truthful information, for they made no evident attempt to check or verify many (or any?) of the "facts" they weave their story around. Roggio writes:
There are three problems with this article which require a response: the use iof incorrect facts which could have been easily checked; the portrayal of my embed as an information operation; and equating U.S. military information operations with al-Qaeda propaganda efforts.
One would expect that reporters from such a foremost news source (ha!) would know the basics of the journalist "embedding" procedure -- something they can easily check out by asking questions within their own organisation. But they evidently don't, and didn't.

The MSM are their own worst detractors, when plain examples of an agenda like this one are cropping up with increased frequency. It's not that they're overtly making accusations against Bill like "psy-ops propagandist" or such, but rather arranging and parsing a stew of facts, semi-facts and errors such as to encourage readers to "connect the dots" and come to that conclusion. Read Bill's response to see just how deep this sort of thing can go, within a single media story. And how many of these must go out every day, with an equally loose grip on facts but without someone in Bill's position to say, "Hey, wait a minute!"

PJ's has a roundup of the whole gamut of opinion on this incident, and Richard at Belmont Club has posted a very intriguing essay as well: "Who is a journalist?" That seems like becoming the question of the century, so far. One thing I'm sure of: without people like Bill Roggio (home base here, Iraq dispatches here), or Michael Yon, or the late Steven Vincent -- and of course the many soldiers who are writing up their experiences on their own blogs and sites in which the media have no interest -- our impressions of what's going on over there would be completely at the mercy of such shoddy and slanted reporting as noted above.

Heh, I just noticed the PMS in my title -- it was unintentional, I promise. But I'll leave it. Wait a minute, though. Maybe that's why they call the NYT by that funny name, "The Old Gray Lady"....

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