Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Our troops deserve better than a Vietnam-era press

"The Buffalo News’s denigration of patriotic — what the News calls “pro-war” — veterans reminds me of a media-military symposium that took place some years ago in the aftermath of Vietnam and went a long way toward cementing the military’s negative image of the press. The moderator of a panel that included Peter Jennings of ABC News, Mike Wallace of CBS, and Marine Col. George Connell, offered a hypothetical scenario: In wartime, you are invited to accompany an enemy unit that says it will prove that an ally of the United States is committing atrocities. While accompanying the enemy patrol, you find yourself in the midst of preparations for an ambush that may very well cause the death of Americans. Do you try to warn the Americans?

After hesitating, Jennings replied that he would try to warn the Americans. But Wallace responded that he would regard it as just another story and that he would not feel a “higher duty” to warn the Americans. Col. Connell watched this exchange in what can only be described as a cold rage. When asked to comment, Col. Connell said of Wallace, “I feel utter contempt. Two days later those same two journalists [could be] caught in an ambush and are lying 200 yards from my position, and they expect that I’m going to send Marines to get them. They’re not Americans. They’re just journalists.”"
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