Embedding the message

“It is very likely that we will want to embed if there are troops that actually go into Liberia,” said Lt. Col. John Robinson, who oversees the embedding program from U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla. “It has been proven to be successful. We have been able to provide our perspective to the story.”

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There must have been two wars in Iraq. There was the war I saw and wrote about as a print journalist embedded with a tank company of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized). Then there was the war that many Americans saw, or wanted to see, on TV.

That is the only conclusion I can draw while going through the e-mail messages I have received from irate readers whose view of the televised war from the warm comfort of their living rooms did not match the war I reported on. “Do us a favor, stay in Iraq. We don’t need reporters who are un-American,” urged one man.

and…

I thought embedded print journalists were doing the public a service by giving them a close-up, personal view of the war without it being filtered through military minders and censors. Apparently, the public, at least that part of the public that prefers to get its news from TV, does not want that. What they seemed to want from this war was for the coverage to fit their own biases and preconceived notions. No other views were tolerated. And TV seems in large part to have given them exactly what they wanted.

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Is this the future then? A media center delivering a staged show of whatever intervention America carries out? An American public that is programmed to see themselves as the ‘good guys’, resenting anyone who might tell them differently, even if it’s the truth?