General James Mattis, commander of Marine expeditions in Iraq, came under domestic fire this week for his blunt and controversial remarks about the joy of war. His intemperate remarks roiled a nation obsessed with political correctness and image projection, even as his men defended his leadership:
“Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot,” Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. “It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.
“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil,” Mattis said. “You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”
I don’t think that General Mattis’ remarks about the delight he takes in killing the enemy are either particularly helpful or all that damaging. Most of the reports I’ve read today have only quoted the first paragraph, while the second gives some important missing context. I don’t think that Mattis materially damaged our war efforts by playing into a stereotype of American bloodlust that foreigners have of our soldiers, because those who believe that will do so whether a Marine general makes undisciplined remarks or not. The notion that the sky has fallen, as some media pundits declared today, is nothing more than concealed glee at having their own deepest suspicions about the US military supposedly confirmed. More on that in a minute.
Frankly, I don’t want my military leadership to get all weepy about killing people who want to kill me. I’d rather they just stay serious about doing unto them before they do unto me. However, generals know that they also perform public service, and making comments like this in a public forum shows some poor judgment and/or rhetorical discipline. I think a personal reprimand with an apology should suffice.
My point in covering this isn’t to weigh in on Mattis for what I think amounts to a tempest in a teapot. I’m posting this to note that the news organization covering this story is none other than CNN, which apparently considers an off-hand comment by a Marine general about his job satisfaction to be extremely newsworthy. CNN, you recall, is run by Eason Jordan, and not coincidentally they consider Jordan’s comments about how Mattis and the entire US military chain of command target journalists for assassination and torture to have no news value whatsover.
Nor is CNN alone. Look at the news agencies that have covered the Mattis remarks:
NBC San Diego
San Diego Union-Tribune
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
Now, other than one brief mention on Fox, how many of these same outlets are covering the continuing series of allegations by Eason Jordan that their own employees have been targeted for death or torture by the US military? None. Zero. Nada.
Which of the statements cause the most problems for Americans — the one that has a Marine general taking great satisfaction in killing the enemy, or the one that has the executive of a major news organization making unsubstantiated and repeated allegations of atrocities by the military against reporters?
Now ask yourself why every major news organization bleated Mattis’ statements all over the airwaves, if they truly cared about the reception they would get overseas by the millions Mattis and others like him set free through killing the enemy. Does it make sense that the media would replay the clip over and over again if that was the issue, or does it make more sense that the intemperate remarks gave the MSM an opportunity to damage our military’s reputation?
And given that Eason Jordan tried to do much the same thing … does the difference in coverage make a lot more sense and give an indication of the bias in our mainstream media?
You bet it does. (Inspired by Hugh’s post.)