Joe The Blunder (UPDATED)

Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher’s trip to Israel isn’t going very well.

First, he criticized reporting from war zones…while he was reporting from a war zone.

Now he’s gotten into a fight with an Israeli journalist for not being pro-Israel enough:

JOE: The story here is people are being killed and the media’s slanting it and trying to make it Hamas is, uh, as far as, that Israel’s being bad. Do you believe Israel is bad?

REPORTER: Do I believe it?

JOE: Yeah, do you?!

REPORTER: I’m Israeli, so…

JOE: So answer the question!

REPORTER: No, I don’t think Israel is bad.

JOE: Do you think Israel has every right to protect itself?

REPORTER: Yeah.

[pause]

JOE: You do?!

REPORTER: Yeah.

JOE: Have you said that on air?

REPORTER: I’m just a reporter.

That’s modern conservative punditry for you–embarrassingly ignorant and unnecessarily belligerent. Are conservatives really letting this guy speak for them? Wasn’t Sarah Palin bad enough?

UPDATE: And here’s what Bill Roggio–an actual war correspondent–has to say:

I believe the media should have access during conflicts. Shutting the media out would entirely concede the information to al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, etc. who are increasingly developing sophisticated information strategies. Yes, there is bad and slanted reporting coming out of the combat zones, but there also are good reporters out there who can get the story right. The public needs to hear these stories to understand the nature of the war.

Third, if Joe’s spent any real time with the military, he’d know they typically don’t want reporters to cheerlead for them. In my experience, all the troops on the ground want is a fair shake (senior commanders may or may not want such candor). If something is working, they want you to tell that story, and if something is going wrong, they want that story out there too. One reason for the latter is that often the media can serve as a back door to get some problems fixed that the chain of command may be ignoring.

Finally, Joe is advocating a 1940’s media strategy for wars that are being fought in the 21st Century. We can’t roll back the mass access to print, television, the Internet, cell phones, etc. and push the news on grainy films at the theater.

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