Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Media's Weapon of Mass Distortion

The USA Today headline blurb reads: "8,000 desert during Iraq War". Now I'm not one to jump quick to shouting out "liberal media bias!"; but it most certainly is a misleading blurb. Not because it is saying something untruthful. 8,000 have indeed deserted. That is fact. But what if I am someone who doesn't really pay close attention to the news? Someone who likes news in 30 second tv soundbytes? Sure that's my problem, but it's also the responsibility of newspapers not to mislead, in my opinion. How many USA Today "readers" and subscribers, do you suppose, saw the headline, and just skimmed over it, not really bothering to read the article? I can tell you that I skim by tons of news articles that don't really interest me; with my one source of judgment of whether to read or not to read, being the headline blurb. (Sometimes it's a matter of economizing my time, and not just that I am flat-out uninterested in a topic matter). All those headline blurb-readers who did not read the article are probably now floating around out there thinking, "our soldiers hate it so much over there...they so disagree with the war in Iraq and this Administration, that they are deserting in droves." Perhaps a conversation touching upon the war makes that person recall seeing the article headline, and he now perpetuates this false impression- that the desertion rate is unparalleled, since the war began. I mean, if it wasn't, why then would USA Today report it?

I understand blurbs are supposed to be eye-catching, and that they are often created by someone in the newsroom, other than the one who did the article report. But they should also not leave a casual glancer with false impressions. The following headline could also be eye-catching: "Desertion rate drops, since the Iraq War". Such a headline would also pique my curiousity enough to stop and read, as much as the actual headline might do.

Now that I have your attention, here's the substance of the article itself:


At least 8,000 members of the all-volunteer U.S. military have deserted since the Iraq war began, Pentagon records show, although the overall desertion rate has plunged since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
Gets even more interesting....

Some lawyers who represent deserters say the war in Iraq is driving more soldiers to question their service
The only problem here, is the fact that desertion has dropped since 9/11. During Vietnam in '71, Army deserters numbered at 33,094. That's 3.4% of the Army. Contrast this to 2005, when desertions amounted to 0.24% of U.S. armed forces.
Opposition to the war prompts a small fraction of desertions, says Army spokeswoman Maj. Elizabeth Robbins. "People always desert, and most do it because they don't adapt well to the military," she says. The vast majority of desertions happen inside the USA, Robbins says. There is only one known case of desertion in Iraq.

I think those who serve in today's military have so much to be proud of. They are not only serving to protect this country in an important global conflict in a new kind of war; but they are also taking part in the shaping and writing of history. The hard work they do today- the blood, sweat, and tears- will benefit Americans, Iraqis, and world civilization for generations to come. May we never let a moment go by that we don't thank a uniformed soldier; may we always honor the sacrifices of the military enlisted, and that of military families. God bless.

Hat tip to The NJ Blog by way of Miriam's Ideas.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Mike's America said...

Years ago I worked for a Congressman who also ran a small rural newspaper. He once told me that writing the headlines was the most important job.

Saturday, March 11, 2006 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Great post, WS.

I'm going to link to it.

Saturday, March 11, 2006 11:12:00 PM  
Anonymous CJ said...

You did a great job of bringing this to light. When this first starting being a "news" item last may (http://www.soldiersperspective.us/?p=392) I wrote briefly about it myself.

However, I love the graphs and facts you took the time to discover. It's frustrating to read these things. Before Sept. 11th, I constantly dealt with desertion and AWOL as a platoon sergeant. It's nothing new. As long as there's been a military, there's been desertion.

If headlines are the most important, why not write the headline "Desertion levels Drop Since Sept. 11th"?

Sunday, March 12, 2006 5:35:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Great post. Smithy. I never saw that story anywhere. That's surprising since by that headline, it's a wonder that all the news media hasn't picked it up and ran with it.

Wait a minute. No, it isn't a wonder. Other news sources would read the rest of the story, and since it doesn't fit their agenda, they wouldn't print it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006 7:26:00 AM  
Blogger Pebble said...

I have so many old movies here on VHS, I think over the years I've tried to throw out ones I know I'll never watch again and replace others when their DVD counterpart comes out. They come in handy when a storm hits and takes out the cable...
Last night I just happened to put in "An American President" I noticed something that never dawned on me before! In the presidents speach at the end he says he is a member of the ACLU and goes on about freedom and speech... yet at the end of the same speech, he says he's going to get all the guns from the people in America because he considers them a threat...
This a.m. I did a net search on the fictition speech in the movie and found it here:
American President Movie 1995

To me this movie was just a sweet American President love story, his wife died and he started dating.
Now I see how manipulative it is. Like this post, we are being manipulated on every front. Check out the link to the speech, how did I miss that before? I feel like an idiot!

Pebble

Sunday, March 12, 2006 7:33:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I saw this earlier this week hovering above the Washington Post article on how anti-Islam sentiments are on the rise in America (a poll):

A March 9 article incorrectly said that the Bush administration was attempting to hire an Arab company to manage operations at six of U.S. ports. The issue is the administration's initial approval of an Arab company's purchase of another company that is managing operations at the ports.

The correction's nice, but how is it that they could even get it wrong in the first place, when so many of us know-nothing bloggers had at least the bare facts of the transaction right? Sloppy journalism!

I still run into people who think ports were being sold, as well as port security. They are the victims of sloppy journalism and lazy research (on their part).

Sunday, March 12, 2006 7:37:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

PebblePie,

Lol...I hope you can still see the sweetness in that movie. Sometimes It occurs to me that children's shows I watched, such as Sesame Street, has some very strong liberal messages in them. But I also have to remember them for the positives they contributed to my childhood.

Sunday, March 12, 2006 7:49:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Just over at Blackfive, and saw This post where he mentions out of the hundreds who he knows in Iraq, he only knows 3 who told him embedded reporters have gotten the story accurate and reported truthfully.

Sunday, March 12, 2006 8:03:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

Regarding your last comment, I guess three is better than none! And regarding your post, it doesn't surprise me at all. Just more liberal spin, as usual. But they do have an effect on some people who aren't really paying attention, and it's a shame that so many Americans don't pay attention.

A valuable post. Kudos! :)

Sunday, March 12, 2006 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

This is a great article Wordsmith. I'm going to link back to it.

Pebblepie - I noticed the same thing about that movie. I thought the same thing you did.

The more aware of the way we've had these msgs in our 'entertainment' over the years the more I have seen these things in movies and songs that I wasn't even aware of.

Wordsmith - I came over here to tell you I got a better looking pic up for you this afternoon, since you didn't like the one I had yesterday! lol

http://bluestarchronicles.blogspot.com/2006/03/trading-nfl-career-for-marines.html

:)

Sunday, March 12, 2006 3:12:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Great article, Word!

Oh, and one of my guys is coming home! YEAH!

Sunday, March 12, 2006 5:27:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Gateway Pundit has the latest news on military recruitment:

Sunday, March 12, 2006 8:17:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I was just over at Mudville Gazette, and it links with a second headline for the USA Today article. Wonder what brought that on? People such as myself, complaining? Very curious and odd...

Sunday, March 12, 2006 8:37:00 PM  
Blogger Rebekah said...

This reminds me of the headlines I saw after Dick Cheney's hunting accident. "Cheney victim has heart attack!" "The man Cheney shot!"
Good grief.

I think the media has an obsession with bad news - about Conservatives and soldiers, of course.

Monday, March 13, 2006 2:19:00 PM  

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