Liberty Just in Case

A Dialogue for the September 12th World

Covering the War on Terror as a War

Posted by Mark on January 24, 2005

Hugh Hewitt suggests what the LA Times should cover, rather than what they are covering. What he suggests applies to MSM across the country:

On Jan. 11, 2005, The Times’ Op-Ed page published a column by Robert Scheer titled “Is Al Qaeda Just a Bush Boogeyman?” Apparently, in the 40 months since Sept. 11, at least a few Americans have gone from “who did this?” to “no one did this.” The way this paper has covered the difficult and complex story is part of the reason for such ignorance.

I would like to see The Times restructure its coverage to accomplish crucial objectives:

• Do more to identify and inform the readers on the organization, leadership and capabilities of the Islamist terrorist network, paying more attention to experts who support the war in Iraq and believe, along with President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and many others, that the battles there will ultimately slow the spread of terrorism elsewhere.

• Start a daily — a daily — feature on the Global War on Terrorism and call it that. Explain the money trail and detail the leadership and do so with the repetition that assures that readers are not overwhelmed with one giant aircraft carrier of a piece. Give them the digestible segments that make for understanding. Where does the support come from and who manages the accounts? Are there names behind the cash that funds the madrasas that churn out the jihadists? What has been done to stop the funding? Beneath Osama Bin Laden, his top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, and the Jordanian Zarqawi, who are the generals, the colonels and the rising young officers of the movement? Tell us and tell us again as reporters turn up new information. And alert readers to the many widely visited and cited blogs that have emerged as sources of analysis of this war’s intricacies — among them the Belmont Club (belmontclub.blogspot.com), the Command Post (www.command-post.org), and the Fourth Rail (www.billroggio.com).

In short, The Times needs to reorganize to actually cover the war as a war. The last global war was not covered as though the Pacific Theater was independent of the battles in North Africa, or the Russian front disconnected from the D-day invasion. As with that global struggle, so with this one. As it is, unfortunately, readers know less of the terrorist enemy than 1942 readers knew of the geography of North Africa.

Another attack on the United States is inevitable. It will be a test of this paper and big journalism generally if, when the identities of future attackers are discovered, their organizations’ intricacies and intentions will have been covered extensively in these pages.

There was a question asked in WWII: “Don’t you know there’s a WAR on?”

I think many in this country forgot the correct answer to that question as soon as the rubble was cleared from Ground Zero. The terrorists haven’t forgotten, and the MSM would do well not to forget either.

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