Whoever thought up the idea of “embedding” is a propaganda genius. Embedding plus the press’ status quo bias equals the largely uncritical expectations for war with Iraq. This is supposed to be a cake-walk.
Howard Kurtz has this to say:
War, it turns out, is a lot messier than the ambitious plans laid out in crisp briefings and background leaks. Helicopters get shot down, enemy soldiers fake surrendering, POWs get captured, and friendly fire claims its victims, as in the Patriot missile downing of a British plane.
Some Americans were angry Monday, feeling that in the days running up to the war CNN and the other networks had misled them with overoptimistic, almost boosterish coverage of American military might. Then after the war started, the networks reported that Basra and Umm Qasr had been taken, only to later report that they had not.
But war is always like this. It is confusing and full of contradictory reports and rumors; it contains risks of losses to friendly fire, combat deaths and the capture of POWs. If you listened closely, the retired military officers who work for the networks were continuously cautioning that interim reports must be taken with a grain of salt, and that the reporters and anchors needed to let the dust settle a bit before they reported information that later might prove premature or downright false.