To hide their complicity in such matters, the media will often fall back on what has become a mantra of modern "journalism": "We report; you decide."
That sounds so fair, so unbiased. It is neither. It is, at best, lazy and irresponsible--for simply reproducing the statements of some partisan hack doesn't get us any closer to truth or understanding. When a reporter cites claims that President Bush bypassed the United Nations and elected to "go it alone" in Iraq, it is his duty to point out that this is blatantly untrue (Bush made repeated appeals to the U.N. and ultimately assembled a 38-nation multilateral force). Each time a reporter allows these false statements to go unchallenged, he is perpetuating a lie and has become an instrument of propaganda.
Unfortunately, it's hard to argue that it is mere laziness at work here. For after years of promoting the myth of unilateral action and minimizing the contributions of our allies, the press has adopted an entirely different perspective now that some of those allies are considering troop withdrawal.
Two of America's allies in Iraq are withdrawing forces this month and a half-dozen others are debating possible pullouts or reductions, increasing pressure on Washington as calls mount to bring home U.S. troops.
Bulgaria and Ukraine will begin withdrawing their combined 1,250 troops by mid-December. If Australia, Britain, Italy, Japan, Poland and South Korea reduce or recall their personnel, more than half of the non-American forces in Iraq could be gone by next summer.
Japan and South Korea help with reconstruction, but Britain and Australia provide substantial support forces and Italy and Poland train Iraqi troops and police. Their exodus would deal a blow to American efforts to prepare Iraqis to take over the most dangerous peacekeeping tasks and craft an eventual U.S. exit strategy.
Interesting. Our once inconsequential allies have suddenly become "substantial support forces." Their loss would "deal a blow" to U.S. efforts. See how that works? When nations were joining the coalition, the press simply quoted those who characterized the effort as unilateral and left it at that. ("We report; you decide.") But when those allies talk about leaving, suddenly they are important members of a "multinational force," a "coalition [that] has steadily unraveled as the death toll rises."
This is journalistic malpractice, and it's one reason why reporters will increasingly be seen in the same light as lawyers and used car salesman.