In the inevitable confrontation between the military and the media to
control the flow of war news, it was the Pentagon which won in the Gulf War.
Many in the U.S. military had blamed the media for the United
States' defeat in the Vietnam War. Resolving never to let it happen again, the U.S. Department of
Defense devised by the 1970s a system of prior review and pool coverage. The
pool system required that a military escort accompany every reporter in the
By the time of the Gulf War, the Pentagon had this pool reporting firmly in
place; the press had begun submitting incrementally to Pentagon controls after
being excluded altogether from the front lines in the 1983 invasion of Grenada.
Strengthening the Pentagon's ability to set ground rules in the Gulf War were two other factors:
the Gulf War's theater of operation was in country generally hostile to the
Western press and, the war took place in desert terrain that limited the
possibilities for independent maneuver.
Many American reporters protested the Pentagon rules in the Gulf War as
an unreasonable infringement on press freedom. Some disguised themselves in G.I.
uniforms and hid among troops. Many were arrested. Bob Simon and his CBS-TV
crew broke away from the military escorts, leading to their capture by the Iraqis
The debate has continued as to whether or not the Pentagon's ground rules distorted the
reporting in the Gulf War.
- Arnett, Peter Live From The Battlefield
- Browne, Malcolm New York Times Magazine, March 3, 1991, "The Military vs. The Press: A Correspondent's Account."
- DeParle, Jason New York Times, two-part series, May 5, 1991, "Covering the War," and May 6, 1991, "After the War: An Uneasy American Press Corps."
- Fialka, John Hotel Warriors: Covering the Gulf War, Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1992.
- Gannett Foundation Report, The Media at War: The Press and the Persian Gulf, Freedom Forum, June 1991.
- MacArthur, John R. Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War, Hill and Wang, 1992.
- Moore, Molly A Woman at War: Storming Kuwait with the U.S. Marines, Scribners, 1993.
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