Military Families and Media
(February 22, 2007)
|Recently my husband and I allowed a certain news crew into our home to interview us about the President's decision to send more troops to Iraq, a move we support based on comments we receive from boots we know on the ground in Iraq.|
As the reporter prepared to leave, although we knew the answer, my husband ask why more negative than positive was shouted by the media, which is causing lack of understanding to the public of why we must win this war. Very nonchalantly, standing near our son's folded flag and Silver Star, he said:
"Where no house is on fire, there is no news. Where it bleeds it leads."
|I immediately said to the reporter, "you mean you're willing to report negativity that feeds the insurgency which emboldens them and causes death to our troops and can cause death to us?" His next nonchalant comment was:|
"Not our problem, we just report the fires. It's a democracy."
Based on these statements and what I see spilled in the media day to day, I conclude he speaks for the mass media, the machine that has no conscious regarding the consequences of its messages upon our military, our families, and the innocent Iraqis, the majority who want peaceful, productive lives for their families, and are grateful for the efforts of our service men and women.
Sgt. Patrick Tainsh
KIA Iraq 2/11/04
| ||Iraqis such as our son's Iraqi born interpreter, who once wrote to me saying he wanted his country to be one, not Sunni, Shia, or Kurd, but one like America, still work side by side with U.S. forces, knowing they and their families will be murdered if they are discovered by the enemy.|
But the media is the controlling factor that will help break the will of our country and embolden the radical terrorists, insurgency, and those who provide them with more means to kill.
|For our heroic families who have loved ones serving and who have had loved ones killed, the media's careless and callous reporting is a continual slap to our face, a saber through the heart. Many families won't speak with media any longer because they fear the twist of their words and creation of sound bites that destroy intended messages. |
Media is as much as telling us that they don't care how they dishonor us or how many of our brave American or coalition service members they place in danger or bring death to. They are telling us we are insignificants who they have no regard for although it is our personal American blood spilling on behalf of a nation where life and freedom is enjoyed and all possibilities abound, a nation that takes their military personnel and good life for granted. Our families deserve better and suffer greatly in feeling their loved ones efforts and heroics go unnoticed and unsupported more loud and public because media refuses to be equally fair for our side.
The media refuses to show with equal time our military's great progress in rebuilding schools and hospitals or their great humanitarian efforts involving Iraqi children and neighborhoods.
LCpl Jeramy Ailes
KIA Iraq 11/15/04
| ||One of thousands of such stories is that of LCpl Jeramy Ailes, USMC, who died on November 15, 2004 during his second tour, going house to house in search of insurgents in Fallujah. Before his death Jeramy requested from his parents that they send soccer balls to him for the children. Jeramy's mom also tells this story: |
"There was a day when Jeramy was on foot patrol and saw a little girl carrying a heavy bale of hay, her face beet red from the heat, while her father walked beside her empty handed. Knowing this wasn't right in Jeramy's eyes, he went to the father, had a few words, and in the end the father carried the hay bale while Jeramy gave the little girl a piggy back ride."
|Jeramy is only one of the thousands of examples set by all of our unsung heroes who want nothing less than to help Iraqi children know fun and a better future.|
But the media won't give equal time to honor these selfless heroic demonstrations, or our Silver Star, Navy Cross, or Medal of Honor recipients. But they will spend time dwelling on negatives such as the Lt. who refused to go to Iraq. Again, the negative only provides the public with information for more condemnation rather than to provide that which brings a sense of pride and unity in our nation . . . and yes, even military families.
For those of us grieving our loved one's death and for those families praying for their loved ones safety while in the war zone the negative media adds additional anxiety to the already most stressful situation one can imagine. But the media can't imagine this because it isn't that personal to them.
The majority of military families are a proud lot. Proud of our country, our loved ones uniform, and their selfless service for people they don't even know. But our own national media seem as traitors to us. It does very little in way of positive news to ease our pains and fears. And although we know that our brave family members are the ones who safeguard and bleed for media rights to "free speech and press," we are disillusioned and angry that media producers and reporters refuse equal time be given to provide good news to give a complete picture to America and to honor and better protect the very ones who do provide these freedoms.
The media's feeding of the greater negative, defeatist messages to Americans only serves to increase the view that no worth while progress is being made in Iraq and that our service men and women are serving no great purpose. This is an insult for us. We have so much to be proud of, but the majority of America doesn't even know.
A soldier told me that he asked his unit's embedded reporter to do a story about an area that had been rebuilt, a success story. The reporter told him that his producers only wanted him reporting on blood and destruction. Another soldier told me that a group of his guys were watching a TV news report that showed the bombing of a specific location. On seeing this they all looked at one another puzzled with someone saying, "that's old news, we've already rebuilt that area." The troops were disgusted. The point being, if the media can't get fresh "bleeding leads" they will rerun something old to feed their destructive agenda.
This feeding by media, along with messages for withdrawal by protestors only add fuel to the insurgency's quest, and adds more fear and uncertainty for the Iraqi people, and concern for our families that our fallen and wounded heroes will have sacrificed in vain.
Another concern of families is that pressure by media and protestors will cause the early withdrawal of troops and destroy all we sacrificed for. Our son's Sgt Major, whose son is currently at boot camp, and whose wife is proud of both her husband and son, recently told me in an e-mail this: "early withdrawal would make Sadaam look like a Girl Scout. Innocent blood would flow to the hip, and everything that has been rebuilt, would be destroyed. To leave the Iraqi people without stability in Baghdad with a functioning stable government will only validate for the Iraqi people that American government isn't the friend or strength she claims to be." He went on to say: "Politicians and media need to get out of our way and let us complete the job that would have been finished a year ago without the negative interference. Every time certain politicians or media open their mouths, the insurgency gets bolder."
This is the time to continue building trust, not destroy what has been accomplished. Although we realize that the Iraqi government must lead, fight insurgency, stop corruption, and provide for its people jobs and life's necessities, our leaving too soon will not only destroy progress thus far, but also create a vacuum for terrorism to feed and grow, a greater danger we can't afford.
But the majority of American people do not understand this because the media doesn't want them to. The media, from the top, has it own agenda, and it is not the safety of our troops, the Iraqi people, the well being of our military families, or our country's safety. Again, our military families feel betrayed and helpless. We know that even if thousands of us marched for "victory through a new path," we would never have the media attention given "the other side."
Freedom of speech and the press is one thing, using it to cause more death, to split our nation, and to help to lose this war is just unconscionable.
British journalist and novelist George Orwell wrote during WWII: "As far as the mass of the people go, the extraordinary swings of opinion which occur nowadays, the emotions which can be turned on and off like a tap, are the result of newspaper and radio hypnosis. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out that of the other. In practice, he that is not with me is against me."
Unfortunately, today, I have to echo Orwell's words on behalf of our heroic military and their families, as long as media is one sided, it is most definitely against us, more so our enemy and no concern to be a friend.
By Deborah Tainsh
Deborah Tainsh, Gold Star Mother of Sgt Patrick Tainsh KIA Baghdad, Iraq, 2/11/04, is the author of Heart of a Hawk - One family's sacrifice and journey toward healing, recipient of the Military Writers Society of America's Spirit of Freedom award. Deborah is also a supporter of America's military and their families. She is a national speaker, writer, and peer mentor for TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and Good Grief Camp for Young Survivors) located in Washington, D.C. She and her husband, USMC Sgt. Major (Ret) David Tainsh live in Harris County, Georgia, near Columbus and their son, Phillip.
Comment on this article