Media and War, Appearance and Reality

The U.S. Department of Defense recently issued a report stating that the "war on terrorism" could last as long as six years on a global scale. "In a paradox worthy of careful study, however, the mass media have been far more exuberant about progress in the war," notes Strategic Forecasting, a private intelligence company that provides businesses with strategic analyses of international events. "The media have to a great extent disregarded the constant drumbeat of caution sounded by everyone from U.S. President George W. Bush to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to Adm. John Stufflebeem. Instead, they have spoken of the stunning victory of U.S. arms in Afghanistan and a new war-fighting paradigm in which air power, a few good men and the natives sweep away America's enemy, and they have generally engaged in an ongoing orgy of congratulatory coverage." In previous U.S. wars, military spokesmen tended to be uncritical cheerleaders, while the news media were supportive but often skeptical. This time around, however, "media and military have now completely reversed roles."