The Media Muzzled

Vietnam and Afghanistan Show why Limiting Press Access to War is Unpatriotic

Maybe the U.S. military can get out of Afghanistan without incurring any regional disaster, any national embarrassment, any further sundering of the international order, without atrocity, and without making Americans cynical—even without benefit of a robust press watching over their work. I pray that it may be so. And maybe the new mayor of some midsized Jersey burg with a record of public mendacity going back to his days as dogcatcher will get through his term in office without doing anything wrong, even without the Bergen Record going over his ledgers.

My fellow Americans: Trust them at your own risk.

War needs journalistic watchdogs as much as or more than any city hall, because human beings, even those responsible for safeguarding lives, may lie mercilessly if there is no one to watch over them. Even in what we are told are "extraordinary circumstances," in which "everything has changed," and the country is "more united than ever before."

Illustration by Nathan Fox

"We'll find out in five years what the real truth is": Do you really want to stake your patriotism on assurances like that?

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