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So according to a Washington Post reporter’s testimony and Erik Wemple’s research (Dept. of Media, “Minder Games,” 4/4), the government’s current enemy monitors the press in the areas it controls and is “shortening the leash on visiting reporters” as the situation grows more critical. No kidding!
You may not have heardto the extent that the Post covers such matters, they go in the Style sectionbut it turns out that the “coalition” also has rules for journalists, even expelling them if what they say is thought egregious. And if the war goes on much longer, this situation is likely to escalate, if the body language of some assertions to date is any indication. For instance, there is the spectacle of the most powerful military machine in history hysterically crying “war crimes” at the slightest deviation from Queensbury rules on the part of a much weaker opponent (who did not start the fight in the first place). To behave like that does not demonstrate confidence that the truth that journalism is supposed to report is on your side.
If there is a prolonged battle for Baghdad, I would not want to be a reporter “embedded” in a given unit who feels an obligation after a while to question its general’s wisdom.