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May 11, 2009

Katie’s Embed With The Pentagon (And Their Photographer)

Couric-Afghanistan-DOD.jpg
(full post here)

You know what gets me fired up (and what consequently troubles me about love-ins like the White House Correspondents Dinner) ?

It’s watching Katie Couric traveling around with the Defense Secretary through the Middle East and Asia for days at a time while blogging about it like a starry-eyed school girl on a field trip. And then, what’s worse is to see Couric and CBS completely blur the reporting lines by illustrating one of those wonderful travelogue posts (also marketed to Couric’s 22,000 Twitter followers) with a photograph taken by the Pentagon — one, if I make it out right, which documents Katie — the helicopter-riding fan — capturing all the imagery she could possibly want with her Flip camera.

I actually raised the issue of the media illustrating stories using military photographs back in 2005 when the LAT documented hostilities in Western Iraq with material from Rumsfeld’s “shooters” (the post leading to an NPR “On The Media” interview two weeks later about the practice with the director of photography for the AP).

And then, having spent five days going around with Secretary Gates, to what extent did Katie manage to get any sense of the fact that the Afghan campaign — the beautiful poppies notwithstanding — has been mostly a fail, leading just a few days later to our top Commander over there getting canned?

Update 1: Turns out Katie’s softball interview with Commander McKiernan, recorded before she left Afghanistan three days ago but posted today, was his last as Commander in Afghanistan. In this video from tonight’s CBS Evening News, in fact, Katie — who was never the wiser — not only reports that McKiernan was dumped because his “expertise in waging a counter-insurgency was inadequate,” but that the firing McKiernan turned out to be the whole reason for Gates’ trip to Afghanistan in the first place.

Update 2:

More visual shenanigans blurring the lines between CBS and the military?

Couric-Pentagon-photo-1.jpg
(full post here)

Check out this post Katie did the day after the one above. When a network credits a photo to itself, the news consumer must go on faith that the photo was indeed captured by the media, right? Funny thing is, when you check the photo essay of the same event from the Department of Defense website, you see what appears to be the exact same photo, once again taken by the Pentagon but somehow credited, on Couric’s blog, to CBS.

Couric-Gates-Cairo-1.jpg

(full post here)

Now, surely this photo — a shot of Gates and Couric in Cairo illustrating Katie’s post four days earlier — had to have been taken by a CBS photographer, yes? Umm, try again.

So I’m wondering two things. First, why should the MSM — especially with all their financial troubles these days — have to worry about shooting their own photography when the military (on the hush-hush) seems perfectly willing to do it for them? And second, did the press learn nothing from Judy Miller?

(Slightly revised and updated: 11:57 pm PST)

(photos 1, 2 & 3: Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison/Department of Defense. Links in this credit direct to associated DefenseLink photo galleries.)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01156f665f05970c stevelaudig

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollyanna
    directly from “Wiki”
    “The title character is Pollyanna Whittier, a young orphan who goes to live in Beldingsville, Vermont, with her wealthy but stern Aunt Polly. Pollyanna’s philosophy of life centers on what she calls “The Glad Game”, an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna’s father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because “we don’t need ‘em!”.
    With this philosophy, and her own sunny personality and sincere, sympathetic soul, Pollyanna brings so much gladness to her aunt’s dispirited New England town that she transforms it into a pleasant place to live.”
    I don’t know what the right word for Katie is: “mundane” bordering on mendacious? Tedious? Quotidian?
    Thinking about her makes me want to play the “Vomit Game.”

  • Stella

    “Did the press learn nothing from Judy Miller?” I’m afraid members of the press class see their purpose as teachers of the lower classes, not as learners.
    I hope they will begin to learn soon.

  • Steve in Los Angeles

    Can we just insert the word “Pravda” into the corporate names of virtually all the US corporate press and be done with it?
    CPravdaBS
    NPravdaBC
    APravdaBC
    MSPravdaNBC
    FPravdaPravdaOX
    And when the US corporate press “learn their lesson” that the US “Big Business” corporate press is to oppose and be critical of the government that has been bought and paid for by US “Big Business” corporations, some commentators ask?
    Answer: Never. Why would they bite one of their own hands?

  • http://www.khou.com/topstories/stories/khou090511_tnt_water-shortages-iraq-soldiers.16ebba1d.html yg

    did couric report how soldiers have been suffering from lack of water?
    via keith
    http://www.khou.com/topstories/stories/khou090511_tnt_water-shortages-iraq-soldiers.16ebba1d.html

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0115701c77bd970b blackjackshellac

    Modern journalism is a joke, the cake is burnt, it’s done, finished, blackened shell of what it used to be.
    And those bloody poppy fields would be a lot less menacing if we would just legalize and control the distribution of heroin in concert with rehab.
    The fucking lunacy of the world is just too much for me some days.

  • singer

    How about the notion that the military’s solution is encouraging muslims to plant vineyards!?! I can appreciate the economic benefits of a high value-added crop, but seriously, replacing their drugs with ours?

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