Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Talk radio goes to Baghdad

A group of "conservative" talk radio hosts is planning a trip to Iraq to report "the truth" ... and, predictably, "liberal" journalists are denouncing the project in advance as propaganda.

I'm prone to agree with that judgment, but let's wait and see.

Melanie Morgan, of San Francisco's KSFO talk radio station, will be among those flying into Baghdad on "The Truth Tour." She says that the mainstream media is "imposing a Vietnam template on this war." Maybe she's right ... but let's talk about what happened in Vietnam where the media was concerned.

To listen to the bellyaching of the Right today (in defense of a war launched and largely conducted by the Left, even), you'd think that the mainstream media of the 1960s was against the war in Vietnam from the start.

In point of fact, most of the "big name" correspondents who covered Vietnam from the first days forward -- David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan and Bob Simon come to mind -- started off supporting the war. They believed wholeheartedly in the "Domino Theory," and they saw themselves as tasked with supportively documenting the West's stand against the expansion of communism. It took several years of immersion in the conflict for their views to change.

I'm not saying that the talk show hosts who make this trip will come back with their views on the war changed. It's possible -- even likely -- that they'll spend their time in Iraq just as insulated from the reality of the conflict as if they'd stayed home -- that they'll essentially be treated to a dog and pony show by the "Public Affairs" guys in the Green Zone -- and that they'll return home saying exactly the same things they were saying before they left. It's possible -- even likely -- that a good deal of taxpayer money will be spent on making this into a propaganda tool rather than any kind of true journalistic inquiry.

But you never know. And it never hurts to reserve judgment until there's a basis on which to render it.

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