War Deaths and the Press II

Kevin’s comments on my previous post makes it clear that some expansion is in order.

Unless they’re awfully hamhanded, I don’t think people recognize political stunts on their own side as easily as the opposition. If Fox had done this program, it would have been seen in a different light since Fox has been rather unabashed in its patriotic displays since 9/11, earning some criticism from the other networks. Indeed, I suspect many on the Left would be criticizing the show as gloryifying the dead in order to drum up ratings. And it wouldn’t be a totally unwarranted criticism, since Fox is slanted somewhat to the Right just as the others are slanted somewhat to the Left.

People naturally assume pure motives by people they agree with and like. The elite media is hostile to most conservative views on the most controversial issues of the day: abortion, guns, war, capital punishment, affirmative action, religiousity, multiculturalism, etc. The only issue I can think of offhand where the elite media tends to side with conservatives over liberals is on free trade–and that’s not an issue with a pure left-right split, since many on the Left are free traders.

I like and respect Koppel as a journalist, but am reasonably sure that he’s well to the left of me politically. I’m sure Koppel and his producers geniunely care that these soldiers are dead and I don’t impugn his patriotism or decency. But he’s certainly opposed to the war and using this to make a (perfectly valid) political point: that the cost of war is high. And, yes, it’s a ratings stunt. I couldn’t tell you the topic of any Nightline episode from the past month without taking an educated guess. This one generated a buzz in the press for days before it aired.

Update: Kevin has more thoughts on the broader topic of partisan sensitivity.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.