War, Propaganda, Censorship: The Military Reveals the Actual Power Relations "Embedded" in Their Relations to With the News Media
In late June Michael Hastings published this story in Rolling Stone. The picture above accompanied that story which cost a high ranking military officer his job and career. I think Hastings was right to publish the story. To the best of my knowledge, while many commentators questioned the 'propriety' of his doing so, none actually contested the details of what he wrote. Well, it turns out that the military apparently doesn't much want Hastings around any more and has canceled his next scheduled "embed" in Afghanistan. You can read the news here at Mother Jones.*
Is there anyone who is really surprised by this? I'd be surprised if there were. Tit-for-tat, and so forth. What is outrageous is not this decision to kick Hastings to the curb. That is simply authoritarian reflex. Predictable. What is outrageous is that the news media has voluntarily embraced the legitimacy of the entire system of "embedded" reporting. Having done that, they really cannot complain that the military unilaterally dictates the rules of engagement. This episode simply reveals in especially stark form the power relations to which the press has acquiesced.
The press should pride itself on being untrustworthy (which is not the same thing as being dishonest, quite the reverse) when it comes to political and military authorities. In the current context the premium seems to be quite the reverse.
Update (8/6/2010): More here.