Friday, December 10, 2004
It's the press's fault
It turns out that the now-famous question to Rumsfeld from Spc. Thomas "Jerry" Wilson concerning the lack of armor for military vehicles in Iraq was a plant. The AP is reporting that the Chattanooga Times Free Press has issued a note to its readers—
"In hindsight, information on how the question was framed should have been included in Thursday's story in the Times Free Press. It was not," the paper's publisher and executive editor, Tom Griscom, said in a note to readers published Friday.
Military affairs reporter Edward Lee Pitts, who is embedded with the 278th Regimental Combat Team, said he worked with guardsmen after being told reporters would not be allowed to ask Rumsfeld any questions.
This has, of course, thrown the media into paroxysms of self-examination, only to be followed by indignant remarks from the Pentagon—
Kelly McBride, a member of the ethics faculty at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, said she did not fault the reporter for getting help with asking the question, but described the failure to include that information with his story as "dishonest with his readers."
"I suspect some people would see it as manipulative," McBride said. "I suspect Rumsfeld felt manipulated."
Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita said Rumsfeld gives reporters ample time to ask questions and that his appearance in Kuwait was for the soldiers.
"Town Hall meetings are intended for soldiers to have dialogue with the secretary of defense," Di Rita said. "It would be unfortunate to discover that anyone might have interfered with that opportunity, whatever the intention."
So Rumsfeld feels manipulated?
You may recall that on Monday, two days before the "Question," I was writing of the Pentagon's decision not to court-martial the troops who refused to undertake a mission for lack of armor—
Smart move by the military. A court-martial would have brought more media attention to the lack of equipment and the justness of the troops' complaints....
Soldiers refuse a direct order, it's publicized, and no court-martial? Now just how manipulative is that?
No court martial for recalcitrant troops