Jul 15, 2006 1:15 am


Last night Donald Rumsfeld went on Charlie Rose show and told him in as straight forward a manner as he could that Al Qaeda, with its highly coordinated and sophisticated media apparatus, has been successful in getting MSM to help them fight their war against the West. As the current war on Islamism is asymmetric, Rumsfeld further argued, it cannot be won on the ground by soldiers, but must be won in the hearts and minds of the soldiers' homeland. Hence, unless the US government and its allies find an effective way to counter Al Qaeda's successful use MSM, the West will lose the war with Islamism.

Rose retorted that there was nothing new in Al Qaeda's attempt to use MSM. The Nazis did the same thing. Nor was he concerned by the prospect of Islamist victory or by the possibility that the media may be helping make such a victory possible. What caught his attention was Rumsfeld's argument that to secure victory the American government must find a way to compete, if not totally supplant, MSM as a source of public information.

"Do you believe the American media is doing a bad job?" he asked waxing lyrical about reporters risking their lives to tell the story."Isn't this simply a case, as Pulitzer Prize winner David Halberstam argues, of shooting the messenger?" After all, how could a mere American Secretary of Defense have the gall to argue with a Pulitzer prize winner?!

Trying to deliver a message while doing as little to antagonize as possible, Rumsfeld did not bother to remind him that Walter Duranty also won a Pulitzer for misreporting on both the Moscow Trials and the Ukrainian famine. Nor did Rumsfeld remind him of the less than glorious media record in exposing Nazi atrocities or its role in stalking the fires of isolationism in the US. Instead, Rumsfeld reminded Rose of the more recent CNN admission of its deliberate decision not to report the truth about the vile nature of Saddam's regime. That was wrong, Rose admitted but, he added, Jordan has since left CNN. Of course, Jordan was no exception and the recent CNN failure to show the controversial Muhammad cartoons for fear of endangering its reporters in the Muslim world demonstrates just how easy it is to terrorize the media. Of course, CNN is far from unique. Just read the open letter sent by the Malaysian investigative reporter to the Australian SBS TV which chose to add fuel to the ongoing Islamist stalked fire by airing additional photos of the old Abu Ghraib atrocity but failed to show the Muhammad cartoons. Terrorism, as Rumsfeld explained, aims at getting one to change his/her behavior.

But can you point to an actual military harm done by MSM? Charlie asked. Yes. Rumsfeld retorted. The recent publication of the American ability to monitor Al Qaeda communications with its American contact caused real damage. This Rose tried to dismiss with a knowing smile:"Surely, they knew we were listening?" Not really, Rumsfeld replied, the reporting led Al Qaeda operatives to change their behavior. You mean in the manner the reporting about our ability to listen in on Bin Laden's satellite phone did? Rose asked. Precisely, Rumsfeld answered. Rose Quickly changed the subject.

Do I believe this interview will alter Rose's reporting or the behavior of the MSM? Not a chance. Still, this interview is important. Along with Socrates and Rumsfeld, I believe that questions are more important than answers. Once posed, answers are invariably found. Rumsfeld asks how can Western governments bypass MSM and thereby secure victory in the war with Islamists. I trust somebody will come up with the appropriate answer. Clearly the sooner it's done, the shorter this 'long war" will be. In the meantime, we, members of the alternative media, must double our efforts. Luckily, we have Jihadists own mistakes to help us hold the line.

For MSM response, click here.

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More Comments:

Wolf - 2/21/2006

The Iranians should have renaimed their Danish pastry "Bunns of the Infdel"

Bux - 2/20/2006

"basically talking about a state-controlled media, which pretty much equals the end of real democracy."

Sam, you've made Rumsfeld's case for him: today's MSM is controlled by the the government-in-exile, Democratic party. The MSM are not merely the left-leaning syncophants they are portrayed, but in fact, many are former Democratic operatives posing as journalists.

The MSM has no apparent compunction in destroying our nation if that is required to regain power.

Robert Welch - 2/20/2006

For the past 50 or so years we have had a state-controlled-media. That state is the democratic party

- 2/20/2006

I don't want to be posted, but only to say that a lot of people feel very proud when they get listed on Real Clear Politics; here you are, a relatively small University running its own History News Network...

Very nice, and an important article on Rumsfeld's exhortation...

Your Department (as one example, Kathleen Clare) is helpful to the public in other ways, too...

Sam - 2/20/2006

I disagree. Everyone agrees that this war cannot be won just by killing everybody--that won't work. So the phrase "winning hearts and minds" has surfaced as a commonly espoused general solution. Whose hearts and minds, however? I assert that the hearts and minds of Westerners do not matter that much. Sure, with poor enough public opinion the guys in charge of this war will be thrown out of office. But solving the terrorism problem really has nothing to do with attitudes in the West. We need to figure out how to "win the hearts and minds" of Middle Easterners. As a civil libertarian, it is Rumsfeld's proposed solution that worries me more than terrorism. He is basically talking about a state-controlled media, which pretty much equals the end of real democracy. Economists know that for any market to work (even political markets), there must be full information. A state controlled media would just be one big political market failure and basically let the government run without any checks on its decisions.

M. Murray - 2/20/2006

Sorry to burst your bubble, but Hollywood was "mobilized" during WWII; the radicals were squelched. Today, as during Vietnam, we have a hands off policy to the media and Hollywood. As far as "the average American" is concerned this is just a little Bush War, you know: like Custer against Sitting Bull. Don't bet on the Calvery, they don't stand a chance.

rickgutridge - 2/20/2006

Reading this made me think of how unsettling Rumsfeld's blunt, candid, and considered remarks must be for the media. The Bush administration, as most recently evidenced by the Washington Press Corp's response to the hunting accident, has the MSM completely unhinged. Secretary Rumsfeld, along with V.P. Cheney and President Bush, have a habit of speaking in plain unambiguous terms. Unfortunately for the MSM, it's a whole lot harder to put liberal spin on words so plainly spoken. So totally enraged is the media, that instead of reporting (or not) the facts, they've taken it upon themselves to attempt to bring down this administration at any cost - including placing at risk our national security and the lives of our service men and women in harm's way. The only way the media can rationalize not showing Danish cartoons for fear of inflaming passions, yet turn around and show two year old photos of Abu Graib prison abuse, is that Danish cartoons won't hurt the Bush administration, but the Abu Graib photos might.

The MSM and their conjoined sibling the Democrat Party, have held so much power in America for so long, that with the loss of their power also comes the loss of their judgement and control. And so, Secretary Rumsfeld is right, as long as the MSM continues to behave as it has these last few years, we desperately need an alternative to them. Perhaps V.P. Cheney's delayed reporting of his accident was in fact a warning shot to the media itself - "in this age of the Internet, you are neither needed nor wanted". Good for him, and countless thanks to the rising alternative media for the spectacular job they are doing.

IrishLightning - 2/19/2006

Back when Hollywood made movies that celebrated American Values and portrayed us as an inherently good society, the majority of the World loved us. The world aspired to the American way of life. Now that Hollywood constantly casts us as a disfunctional society run by a corrupt and evil Government the world has a lesser opinion of the US. Who can blame them when filmmakers like Michael Moore and George Clooney seem dedicated to disparaging our nation? Hollywood has vulgarized our popular entertainment and projected a false image of us as perverted weak citizens. It may be simplistic, but when men like John Wayne made pro-American movies the world loved us. The world is much more contemptuous of our entertainment products than our foreign policy. If we could get films made of our charity , nobility and honesty it would go a long way toward rehabilitating our nation's and our culture's image in the World.