Blogs such as NewsBusters play a key role in helping the truth getting through the filter of the mainstream media. That was the view that Rear Admiral Mark Fox expressed to this blogger today.
I had the opportunity to participate in a conference call for bloggers with RADM Fox, a Silver Star recipient who scored the first Navy MiG kill in Operation Desert Storm, and who now serves as the Communications Director for MNF-I in Baghdad. Given the chance to ask a question, I naturally focused, given NB's mission, on MSM coverage of the war.
I cited to Admiral Fox the headline and opening paragraph of the New York Times story on the recent battle in Najaf in which Iraqi-US forces killed over 200 enemy fighters and captured more than 400. Predictably, the Times sought to cast the success in the most negative possible light.
The Times headline read: "Missteps by Iraqi Forces in Battle Raise Questions". The article's opening sentence: "Iraqi forces were surprised and nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity of an obscure renegade militia in a weekend battle near the holy city of Najaf and needed far more help from American forces than previously disclosed, American and Iraqi officials said Monday."
I invited Admiral Fox to comment on the Times coverage. His response:
"The good news is, the truth ultimately comes out. And I would applaud the efforts of people like you who assure that the truth ultimately gets through what some people call the mainstream media filter. Our collective view here at the Multi-National Force is that the incident at Najaf demonstrated very clearly the growing capability of the Iraqi security forces."
Admiral Fox stated that a small group of Iraqi police initially encountered the hostiles and relayed the information to the 8th Iraqi Army. Given the size of the forces they were facing, the provincial governor requested MNF support, which was provided in the form of a ground patrol and air support including AC-130s.
Said Admiral Fox: "Rather than characterizing it as 'they were almost overrun', the Iraqi troops did exactly what they were trained to do and what American troops are trained to do in similar circumstances. I think it's a success story for Iraqi security forces and for the provincial Iraqi control process." Admiral Fox noted that sovereignty was only transferred to Najaf province in December, so this was early on in the process. The Admiral concluded by calling Najaf "a good news story."
That won't stop the NY Times and others in the MSM from spinning this and other stories negatively, of course. But NB and others in the blogosphere will be there to help set the record straight.
Mark was in Iraq in November. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org