The past week has been full of excitement in the Milblog community. There has been amazing closing of the ranks in the Afghanistan community and beyond. Nick Meo has attracted as much attention as a marauding bear in a hive of bees.
I have to admit that I feel quite small in this community. I’m certainly not the best known of the bloggers, and as my Sitemeter will testify, I have not been visited by nearly as many people as the more established blogs. However, after this week, it will never feel the same to me. I don’t feel nearly as isolated, and has been an awesome demonstration of the power of little guys.
It’s not the little blogger who really has the power. You do. You who are reading this right now have more power than you think. Many of you have written to the Telegraph and Nick Meo and have let them know of your displeasure at Meo’s self-centered, lying, and insulting bit of “journalism.”
Your voice has been, and is being heard. Keep it up, please. As General Nathan Bedford Forrest once said, “Put the skeer on ‘em, and then keep up the skeer!” I’ll put the email addresses at the end of this post again. Please go ahead and cut and paste them into an email to both Nick Meo and the Telegraph and send them another note; keep up the skeer.
It’s working. Nick Meo is crying to fellow journalists in Afghanistan, explaining and justifying himself in his best Meoist manner. The Telegraph is trying to find a way to diffuse the situation. Don’t let them just make it go away. Demand that they change their ways by never printing another report by Meo from a war zone. Send that “journalist” home and let him piss off the local dog show judges. Our men and women in harm’s way don’t need that type of distraction. Seriously.
The mainstream media has dropped the ball in many ways in this conflict. As GEN McKiernan points out, the media takes a slant and runs with it. Nick Meo’s brand of reporting is only an extreme version of this, but there have to be some boundaries, some responsibility.
Realize this; you are, by virtue of visiting this lonely blog, not like the vast majority of consumers of news. The vast majority get their news from mainstream outlets and do not even question it. If they do question, it is only vaguely, for they don’t take the time to look under the rocks like you do. You have turned over this rock, for instance. There are others; more informative, more anthological, more informed, even more opinionated. There is a wealth of information out here on the web for those who seek it. You are a seeker.
Most are not.
That is why the MSM actually has a responsibility. They, whether they admit to it or not, shape opinion at the grassroots level. For the vast majority, they are the information superhighway. They are the educators and the informers; and they are screwing us over in their depiction of the world in which we live.
People like to blame others for the way that we are perceived in the world, just like they like to blame others for having too much personal debt. The world calls us ignorant because, by and large, we are. Why?
Garbage in, garbage out.
We are ignorant because we are ill-informed or misinformed. Canadians have been more up to speed on Afghanistan for the past seven years than we have. Why? Because they have been informed about it. It’s been all over their news. They’ve got skin in the game. Why did Afghanistan become the “forgotten war?” Because our MSM couldn’t be bothered to report effectively on two campaigns at once; and because they couldn’t get enough of the doom and gloom and what seemed to be American embarrassment in Iraq. Now that Iraq seems to be headed in a positive direction, attention has shifted to Afghanistan. Lo and behold; gloom and doom.
Hell, Afghanistan was there all along; it didn’t just magically reappear. Ask any soldier who was there when it was “forgotten.” People like Bouhammer were warning that the Taliban were regrouping a couple of years ago. The MSM? Not so much. Trust me, Iraq is still there. It still has its problems, too.
Demanding better from our MSM starts with demanding better from the reporters who are there. Nick Meo is a great example of someone who needs to be chastened (read “sent home,”) but as GEN McKiernan pointed out, we are not getting an accurate depiction of the situation on the ground over there. Why are the best reporters in theater independents?
Why are the Yons and Kestersons anomalies?
Because we allow it. We don’t hold our outlets accountable. We don’t make the effort to force them to quit feeding us garbage. Your answer is to find your own fresh brain food. Good answer. It doesn’t help the vast majority out there to actually know what is going on beyond the number of my brothers and sisters who risked all and had their bet taken. Casualty numbers are horrifying when there is no apparent gain from it; no reason to give.
It’s a big job to force the MSM to be responsible in their reporting. Maybe it’s too big. But here we draw a line; slandering our troops who have proven themselves for over six months in what is arguably Afghanistan’s most dangerous province and dishonoring their dead will not be tolerated. We may not be able to force the MSM to tell us more than that the number of attacks are up; like telling us how the government of Afhganistan actually has some patriots on its side. We may not be able to force them to tell the story of hard fought tiny successes that should show us that there are some there who “get it” and are accomplishing something for the people of Afghanistan. We may not be able to force the MSM to help us correlate how happy villagers in a little valley in Afghanistan translate into security for our children when they go to the mall or when we take them to a major sporting event; to tell us why we should care. Maybe we can’t do that.
By God, we can hold them responsible for lying about our soldiers to make themselves look like little heroes. We can tell them that their hurt feelings are no justification for trying to paint men who go in harm’s way in tiny numbers, and pay for it, to look like boobs.
It’s working, but don’t stop now. Send an email if you haven’t. If you have, send another. Keep up the skeer.
Keep an eye on Susan Katz Keating’s blog. In the very near future she will be putting out some new developments in what she has named, “l’affaire Meo.”
In the meantime, here are the email addesses again. Take General Forrest’s advice.
Notice that I put them there so you can just grab them both and put them on the same address line. Let’s be upfront and show them that we are lambasting them with equanimity. Oh, and try to keep it civil but uncompromising. No need to threaten; just let them know that we find them, for lack of a better word, reprehensible; but they can solve that by sending Meo home to report on dog shows.
This is having an impact. It’s actually a significant event; making a difference.
It’s not the power of the blog; it’s the power of the blog reader.