Date of Award
James B. LaGrand
Relations between the military and the media have been a critical element in the success or failure of modem warfare. From William Howard Russell's dispatches during the Crimean War, to the "embedded" journalist live reporting from Afghanistan and Iraq, the role of the press on the battlefield has expanded drastically. As the role of the media increased beginning in the 19th Century up to the present its influence in modem war has expanded. As recently as June, 2010 General McChrystal was relieved of command of U.S. troops in Afghanistan because of indiscrete comments reported in Rolling Stones Magazine. Indeed, he was one of only two commanders in Afghanistan to be relieved from his post during the war on terror. It is clear that to succeed on today's battlefield, a general must have an understanding of the damage that the press can cause. However this is not a new phenomenon. General George S. Patton, Jr.'s career was enhanced and then destroyed by the media, in a way that modern military leaders would find all too familiar. Yet despite this, there is precious little scholarship devoted solely to this area of his career. Most biographies mention the press in passing, but not comprehensively.1 To date, the scholars that have explored various aspects of Patton's career have missed the decisive role played by the media. Most biographies try and answer two questions "who was Patton, and why did he succeed"? The answer to this question can be found in the relationship between Patton and the press. The media would make Patton into a legion, but also be his great undoing. It would be the media that would shape his image and many of his actions in World War Two, leading both to fame and infamy. Patton and the press had a symbiotic relationship. Patton saw the advantages of press attention for improving morale, while the press saw Patton as making good headlines which would eventually lead to his downfall.
Lovelace, Alexander G., "Target of the Press : The Wartime Relationship Between Patton and the Media." (2011). Honors Projects and Presentations: Undergraduate. 315.