Greg Mitchell: When Chris Hedges, 10 Years Ago, Warned About Coverage of the Iraq InvasionRoundup: Media's Take
tags: Iraq, The Nation, anniversaries, Iraq War, Chris Hedges
Ten years ago, as the US invasion of Iraq began, and I was the editor of Editor & Publisher, I turned to veteran war reporter (then still at The New York Times) Chris Hedges for insight on what was going on—and what was likely coming. On most questions, his was a minority voice. Also, as it turned out, quite prescient.
He told our reporter Barbara Bedway that the US military's use of embedded reporters in Iraq had made the war easier to see and harder to understand. Yes, "print is doing a better job than TV," he observed. "The broadcast media display all these retired generals and charts and graphs, it looks like a giant game of Risk. I find it nauseating." But even the print embeds had little choice but to "look at Iraq totally through the eyes of the US military," he pointed out. "That's a very distorted and self-serving view."
To Hedges this instantaneous "slice of war" reporting was bereft of context. After a few days passed and the US made its relenteless way toward Baghdad, he told Bedway that reporters have a difficult time interviewing Iraqi civilians, and many don't even try, he says: “We don't know what the Iraqis think." The reporters are "talking about a country and culture they know nothing about…. My suspicion is that the Iraqis view it as an invasion and occupation, not a liberation. This resistance we are seeing may in fact just be the beginning of organized resistance, not the death throes of Saddam's fedayeen....