The big issue, of course, is the Global War on Terror. I am pleased that you are already working to focus the media's attention where it should be. It is essential that the American public understands the threat that our country faces from radical Islamic jihadists and what it will take in time and resources to win this war. Nothing President Bush does in the remainder of his term is as important as winning this war. The voice of authority that you bring to the job, Tony, will help keep an ADD-inflicted press corps on message. Don't let them get distracted by jawboning Generals and grand-standing Congressmen.
Coming from the news business, you understand that the media has a "drive-thru" mentality when it comes to the news -- they want to know everything, and they want to know it now. The same holds true for the war. The media and an increasingly vocal anti-war crowd want to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq regardless of the consequences.
I'm confident the president believes that victory in this war is vital, and I'm sure you do, too. But the conviction with which that message has been delivered lately has been lacking. It is part of a string of communications gaffes that have emanated from the White House. From the Dubai port deal to the treatment of terrorist detainees, the president's opposition has inflamed the media, framed the issue and taken the lead.
Too often lately, the White House has allowed its critics to set the agenda and the terms of debate. The media love the idea of having the daily briefing on television. They will argue with you and try to play "gotcha" all in an effort to get ratings and air time. They receive and publish classified information. They feign interest in the American people but get upset when a local paper gets the scoop.
Tony, you know as well as anyone that a free and independent media is vital to American liberty. But you also know, and must explain to the press, that using the power of the presidency to prosecute a global war against terrorism is not a violation of the constitution just because they deem it so. It is time to reclaim the podium and put the press in its proper place.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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