If you were watching CNN early
on, you thought we were losing the war. If you were watching
FOX News, you thought we were winning. What distressed me
was a question blurted out by Paula Zahn, while anchoring
a CNN broadcast. The puzzled anchor said: “Who declares
victory – the president or the military?” I shouted
to the television, “The media.”
Television covers war as they do political elections. It
is the horse-race mentality – that is, who is winning
and who is losing. The “turkey award” for war
reporting goes to Erin Moriarty of CBS News who wore a gas
mask during one of her reports from Iraq. Edward R. Murrow
would have choked. While covering World War II, he never went
into a bomb shelter.
The problem with television reporting from Iraq was that
reporters became stars, not the soldiers they were interviewing.
In Vietnam, correspondents talked to soldiers who directly
relayed their thoughts and feelings. In the most recent war,
reporters did the talking and interpreted what others said.
These days reporters and news anchors have become the story.
That’s why I wasn’t surprised when a group of
women correspondents from the Vietnam War came to one of my
classes and said they were embarrassed by their colleagues