Hace poco la prensa de todo el orbe fue eco de una reseña que tuvo encabezados similares en muchas partes: los soldados de Irak están indignados con Rumsfeld.

La impresión que deja eso es la misma, ese oficial del gobierno de EEUU recibió una rencorosa recepción en Irak, durante su excursión.

Sin embargo, hay un pero muy grande y que fue mencionado en la columna de James Taranto del Wall Street Journal (10 de diciembre), con una indagación que no ha sido tan difundida como la otra. Rectificar esto puede constituir un buen caso para alguna escuela de periodismo, o incluso para cualquier pedagogo que tenga como misión aleccionar sentido común a sus discípulos.

• Donald Rumsfeld es Secretario de Defensa de la administración del presidente Bush. La semana del 6 de diciembre realizó una visita a las tropas en Kuwait.

• Un oficial de Tennessee National Guardsman, Thomas Wilson hace una pregunta a Rumsfeld acerca de la falta de protección en algunos de los vehículos en Irak.

• Alguna prensa toma eso y lo transforma. Por ejemplo, Maureen Dowd del New York Times escribe que Rumsfeld trató al soldado que preguntó como si fuera un apestoso reportero.

• Más tarde se inquiere algo interesante. Un reportero del Chattanooga Times Free Press, de nombre Edward Lee Pitts y revela su historia. La pregunta hecha por el soldado Thomas Wilson fue una que Pitts mismo pidió que él hiciera y no una iniciativa del soldado.

Hay un correo de Pitts que verifica eso, “Justo tuve uno de mis mejores días como periodista… Se me dijo que sólo los soldados podían hacer preguntas por lo que traje conmigo dos soldados… Antes habíamos ensayado las preguntas a hacerle a Rumsfeld acerca de la asombrosa falta de protección en sus vehículos…”

• Hay otra información adicional. Ninguno de los dos, ni el soldado ni el reportero, según algunas fuentes, podían saber de la falta de protección porque ninguno de los dos habían estado dentro de Irak.

• Más información extra. Testigos presenciales reportaron una bienvenida muy amigable para Rumsfeld, lejos de la que alguna prensa pintó en sus reportes.

• Bajo la perspectiva anterior, no cabe el sensacionalismo de algunas notas. Y muestra una lección para aprender por parte de los lectores de noticias, el acudir a diversas fuentes de información y reconocer que los medios cometen errores serios que dejan impresiones equivocadas.

• Por ejemplo, Grupo Reforma escribió, “El Presidente de EU, George W. Bush, y el jefe del Pentagono, Donald Rumsfeld, trataron de calmar hoy la tormenta creada por las quejas de los soldados que denunciaron la falta de equipamiento en Iraq, y aseguraron que serán atendidas. Se va a hacer frente a las preocupaciones expresadas.”

• En el Internacional Herald Tribune se reportó así,

“GIs pepper Rumsfeld with tough questions By Eric Schmitt The New York Times

Thursday, December 9, 2004 CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait  In an extraordinary exchange at this remote desert camp, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld found himself fielding pointed questions Wednesday from troops heading to Iraq who complained that they were being sent into combat with insufficient protection and aging equipment. Specialist Thomas Wilson, a scout with a Tennessee National Guard unit scheduled to roll into Iraq this week, said soldiers had had to scrounge through local landfills here for pieces of rusty scrap metal and bulletproof glass – what they called “hillbilly armor” – to bolt onto their trucks for protection against roadside bombs in Iraq.”

• Por su parte, el Media Research Center, el día 13 de diciembre, reportó lo siguiente,

“May have been planted”? Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Edward Lee Pitts boasted, in an e-mail to his colleagues back home, how at an event in Kuwait he had set up a soldier with whom he was embedded to ask Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld about the lack of armor on Humvees, but on Friday’s Good Morning America ABC reporter Jake Tapper stated that “many conservatives” wereupset at “the soldier’s question, which they charge may have been planted by a reporter.”

• Finalmente, ayer el Wall Street Journal publicó una columna de Johnn Guardiano, un periodista que sirvió en Irak en 2003 como operador de radio del Cuerpo de Marines. Su columna comienza diciendo que,

“… the media, it was a dramatic revelation of Bush administration hypocrisy and incompetence: A lowly American GI courageously speaks truth to power, thus showing that the emperor has no clothes. But to this Marine veteran of the Iraq war, the hullabaloo over Army Spc. Thomas J. Wilson’s question reveals far more about media bias, prejudice and ignorance than it does about the U.S. military and Iraq.”

Y finaliza mencionando que, “Of course you won’t hear any of this in many news articles or broadcasts. The media long ago decided that its job was to put a negative slant on all things Iraq. Truth is, as they say, the first casualty of war.”

Parte de la lección es una confirmación de algo investigado hace tiempo. La gente es más propensa a creer eso que está de acuerdo con sus previas creencias que lo que las contradice.

En este caso, los opuestos a la guerra en Irak sin duda dieron la bienvenida a esa noticia y seguramente fue reportada con “salsa” adicional por los editores que se oponen a Bush.

Más aún, todo lector debe ser muy consciente de que los medios son atraídos por los sucesos que salen de la norma y entender que esos eventos no son representativos de toda la realidad. El editor general de está página de Internet ha escrito muchas veces que los medios son imperfectos, a lo que debe agregarse que las noticias que reportan, por tanto, no representan la realidad con total fidelidad.

La nota de la AP es la siguiente.

NEW DELHI, India (AP) – A day after being challenged by a soldier on the Army’s failure to provide adequate armor for vehicles used in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday he was pleased to hear the gripe and expects the Army to do its best to resolve the problem.

“I think it’s good” that ordinary soldiers are given a chance to express their concerns to the secretary of defense and senior military commanders, Rumsfeld told reporters during a visit to the Indian capital.

“It’s necessary for the Army to hear that, do something about it and see that everyone is treated properly,” Rumsfeld said, referring not only to the complaint about insufficient armor but also another soldier’s statement about not getting reimbursed for certain expenses in a timely way.

Those complaints, and others, were aired on Wednesday when Rumsfeld held a “town hall” style meeting with about 2,300 soldiers at Camp Buehring in northern Kuwait, a transit camp for troops heading into Iraq.

Spc. Thomas Wilson had asked Rumsfeld, “Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?” Shouts of approval and applause arose from other soldiers who had assembled in an aircraft hangar to see Rumsfeld.

Rumsfeld hesitated and asked Wilson to repeat his question.

“We do not have proper armored vehicles to carry with us north,” Wilson, 31, of Nashville, Tenn., concluded after asking again.

“You go to war with the Army you have,” Rumsfeld replied, “not the Army you might want or wish to have.”

Asked on Thursday about that exchange, the defense secretary said he believed the session in general was “very fine, warm (and) enjoyable.” As for Wilson’s statement, Rumsfeld said it could be constructive.  “I don’t know what the facts are, but somebody is certainly going to sit down with him and find out what he knows that they may not know,” Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld gave no indication that the soldier would face any kind of disciplinary action for speaking up. Indeed, the defense secretary said he found it healthy for soldiers to feel free to express their views.

He also said military vehicles that go into Iraq without full armor are used only inside U.S. compounds, rather than used on street patrols where they are vulnerable to roadside bombs. And he said those vehicles without full armor are moved into Iraq on transport vehicles rather than being driven.

More broadly, Rumsfeld said people should understand that the military has done all that can reasonably be expected to adjust to changing circumstances in Iraq as the insurgents have refined their tactics.

“That is the way war and insurgencies and combat operate,” he said. “You go in, you have an enemy with a brain that does things, and then you make adjustments.” He added, “Does everything happen instantaneously as the brain in the enemy sees things and makes changes? No, it doesn’t happen instantaneously.” But, he said, the Army has adjusted “pretty rapidly” to the evolving tactics of the insurgents, including the need to have more armor on vehicles like the Humvee.

Rumsfeld spoke after meeting Thursday with Indian Defense Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee. At the Ministry of Defense, Rumsfeld read a brief statement to reporters on U.S.-Indian military cooperation.

“The defense relationship is a strong one and something we intend to see is further knitted together as we go forward in the months and years ahead,” he said.

Later he was meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and then flying back to Washington.

Una nota relativamente típica es esta.

US soldiers grill Rumsfeld over Iraq safety

American troops in Camp Buehring in Kuwait question US defence chief about their safety, length of their stay.

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Disgruntled American troops waiting in the Kuwaiti desert to go into Iraq on Wednesday challenged US Defence Secretary Donald Rumfeld about their safety and how long they would be in the country.

Rumsfeld flew to Camp Buehring 20 kilometres (13 miles) from Iraq border, to face one of the toughest question and answer sessions with troops since the start of the Iraq war in March 2003.

“Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up to three years, a lot of us are getting ready to move north pretty soon,” said one soldier, who was cheered by the some 2,000 troops gathered in a hangar to hear from the US defence chief.

“Our vehicles are not armoured. We are digging up pieces of rusting scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that has already been shot up, dropped, busted, taking the best for our vehicles to take into combat,” he said.

“We do not have proper armour on our vehicles to carry with us north.”

Rumsfeld was also questioned by other troops about what would happen to the US force in Iraq after the planned January 30 election, about missing pay, and other worries over conditions.

Rumseld, who visited Afghanistan Tuesday for the inauguration of President Hamid Karzai, is now heading to India.

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