If you think that the MSM (mainstream media) strives to include diverse voices in its coverage of the Iraqi war, then you haven’t heard the saga of Mark Yost.
An editorial page associate editor at the Knight-Ridder newspaper the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Yost probably didn?t realize he was committing a gaffe when he wrote a column criticizing the press for playing down the positive news from Iraq. He quickly became a persona non grata.
Michael Fumento reports in an excellent column on the outrage that greeted Yost?s article:
“Yost couldn’t have imagined he was bathing in blood and throwing himself into the shark pen. His media colleagues were merciless. ’With your column, you have spat on the copy of the brave men and women who are doing their best in terrible conditions,’ reporter Chuck Laszewski at the same newspaper charged in an open letter. ’You have insulted them and demeaned them,’ he wrote. ?I am embarrassed to call you my colleague.’
“Knight-Ridder D.C. Bureau Chief Clark Hoyt devoted a column to a Yost roast, taking time out only to slam U.S. progress in Iraq. To read it is to know exactly why so many Americans believe we can?t trust the media to fairly cover the war.”
“Of course the war coverage is slanted: The adage ’If it bleeds it leads’ doesn?t halt at the Iraqi border. That’s why when two small shells land in a barren section of city the size of Boston CNN.com blares: ’Blasts rock Baghdad near coalition headquarters’ whereas the completion of an electrification program or water main gets not a column inch.
“It was the very obviousness of Yost’s observation that led to vicious attacks attempting to either show there is no bias or that alternatively there is a bias but it’s justified.”
On the amusing side, one of Yost’s critics fumed that he “must not be watching the network nightly newscasts,” even though it was the newscasts that Yost was watching!
Unlike many of the people who responded in fury to Yost’s column, Fumento has been to Iraq:
“I was embedded with the Marines at Camp Fallujah in hostile Anbar province, nearly lost my life, and returned with a colostomy bag as a souvenir,” he writes. “But before that I walked and drove through the streets of Fallujah, which for some odd reason fell off the media map right after the major blood-letting ended. I reported back on progress in reconstruction of buildings and providing electricity and water to parts of the area that NEVER had it. And I can?t begin to count the e-mails I got from soldiers and Marines thanking me for telling it like it is.
“Yost was right; media coverage on the war is terribly slanted — such that it may threaten our ability to win. This was much more clearly shown in the reaction to his piece than in the column itself. In any case, it’s astonishing that his attackers, from the distance and safety of Washington, D.C. and St. Paul, presume to know what’s going on in Iraq.”