A journalist discovers that doing journalism means stopping the mental replay of “Platoon”

We have long been of the view that the MSM’s view of the military comes not from John Wayne movies or Vic Morrow’s Combat! but from Apocalypse Now, Platoon, the Deer Hunter and the like. (We think this change occurred sometime around Dr. Strangelove in 1963, and was beginning to show itself in Seven Days in May and 1963’s Manchurian Candidate. The Kennedy assassination furthered the development of the paranoid school of political/military filmmaking. But we’re not film critics.)

In any case, Margaret Friedenauer, a reporter from Alaska, confirmed our notion that there is a bad movie running in the heads of the MSM when she chanced to question her basic assumption today in Iraq:

Think about everything you’ve heard about the conditions in Iraq, the role of U.S. forces, the multi-layered complexities of the war. Then think again. I’m a journalist. I read the news everyday, from several sources. I have the luxury of reading stuff newspapers don’t always have room to print. I read every tidbit I could on Iraq and the war before coming.

Everything I thought I knew was wrong. Maybe not wrong, but certainly different than the picture in my head. I liken it to this; It was real struggle for me to choose to see the Harry Potter movies. I had read the books and loved the pictures I had in my mind of the details I read. I didn’t need to see a movie; I had a movie playing in my head of exactly how I perceived the stories. I had similar notions about Iraq, Mosul, the war and what exactly soldiers do…..

I still haven’t seen U.S. troops engaged or encounter car bombs or explosives. But I did see them play backgammon with some local police and Iraqi soldiers. I saw them take photos with more locals and make jokes mostly lost in translation. They gave advice and expertise to local troops on how to conduct a neighborhood patrol. They drank the local customary tea, and many admitted they’ve become addicted to it. They know several locals by name. I didn’t hear one slight or ridicule of a very distinct culture. One soldier mentioned it might be a good idea to clean up the trash around one polling place, and another commented on the status of women in the culture, but they were nothing but respectful, friendly and buddy-buddy with the Iraqis they mingled with today. And this is good stuff….

But I have a slight hesitation; I need to keep balanced. I can’t be a cheerleader, even if I have a soft spot for the hometown troops, especially after the welcome they’ve shown me. I still need to be truthful and walk the centerline and report the good or bad.

But then I realize it’s not a conflict of interest. If I am truly unbiased, then I need to get used to this one simple fact; that the untold story, might in fact, be a positive one.

This is what change looks like, though, as with all conversion experiences, the question is whether the old template wins in the end or the new knowledge is accepted. (HT: Instapundit)

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