Accession Number : ADA266860

Title :   The Military/Media Clash and the New Principle of War: Media Spin

Descriptive Note : Thesis,

Corporate Author : AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL

Personal Author(s) : Feldman, Marc D

Full Text :

Report Date : Jun 1993

Pagination or Media Count : 46

Abstract : Principles of war are more than just a checklist for combat success. They are essential considerations that any would-be commander can use as an intellectual point of departure when contemplating combat operations. In the 1960s, a new fundamental principle of war was born in conjunction with the proliferation of television and the growth of television news. For the first time in history, the gruesome reality of warfare was brought into American living rooms on nightly newscasts. This powerful visual medium altered the entire interplay between the news media and government policy-making. In particular, it would no longer be possible to wield the military instrument of national power without first considering how it would play in the news media. Whether one views this as a watchdog function or merely a politically distorted propaganda effort of media elite, it is for better or worse a real phenomenon dubbed herein as media spin. Media spin is the product of a clash between media and military that has existed as long as the Union itself. Rooted in the Constitution, the antithetical goals of media and military result in inevitable conflict. While journalists have always been with the soldier, risking the same dangers and living side by side in the trenches, their perception of an absolute right to report the war flies in the face of the soldier's perception of an absolute necessity to preserve operational security. This paper briefly traces the evolution of the military/media clash and identifies the Vietnam War as the turning point where mutual trust seemed to be permanently damaged. Government and military leadership pathologies combined with press distortions to leave the impression on the world stage that American wars could be won or lost in the news media. Right or wrong, the effects of a war perceived in the media to be lost precipitated safeguards to insure military campaigns in Grenada and Panama would not be lost on television news.


Subject Categories : Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE