MATTHEWS: What I keep doing here is asking people on and off camera who come on this program, high-ranking officers, enlisted, former officers. I get sometimes, not all the time, two different versions, the version they give me on the air and the version they give me the minute when we’re off the air.
The version they give me when we’re on the air is gung-ho, we’re doing the right thing, everything is moving along. The version they give me off the air is, Rumsfeld is crazy. There aren’t enough troops over there. We’re not taking this seriously enough, or, we shouldn’t be there, sometimes.
I heard an identical story a couple of days ago. A well respected reporter who’s spent a lot of time in Iraq says he’ll get email all day long from the generals telling him how screwed up things are and how badly the mission is going, but when the afternoon briefing rolls around, these same guys are smiling for the cameras and telling everyone that everything is going great.
Question: are there any reporters who are more optimistic in private than they are in public? As near as I can tell, it’s 100% the opposite. Despite the griping of the pro-war blogosphere, most of them are actually delivering a more positive story to their readers and listeners than events on the ground justify.