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The Weblog at The View from the Core - Friday, December 10, 2004

Newspaper Reporter Brags to Colleagues About Surreptitiously Manipulating News Conference

"I just had one of my best days as a journalist today."

The famous question to SecDef Donald Rumsfeld, ostensibly from a soldier, was actually planted by a reporter; Drudge broke the story yesterday:

Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Edward Lee Pitts is embedded with the 278th Regimental Combat Team, now in Kuwait preparing to enter Iraq, and is filing articles for his newspaper. Pitts claims in a purported email that he coached soldiers to ask Defense Secretary Rumsfeld questions!
When reached Thursday morning, various Chattanooga Times Free Press staffers offered 'no comment' on the development....

Here's the text of the e-mail message.

+ + + + +

Sent: Wednesday, December 8, 2004 4:44 PM
To: Staffers

Subject: RE: Way to go

I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey North was delayed just long enough see I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.

So during the Q&A session, one of my guys was the second person called on. When he asked Rumsfeld why after two years here soldiers are still having to dig through trash bins to find rusted scrap metal and cracked ballistic windows for their Humvees, the place erupted in cheers so loud that Rumsfeld had to ask the guy to repeat his question. Then Rumsfeld answered something about it being "not a lack of desire or money but a logistics/physics problem." He said he recently saw about 8 of the special up-armored Humvees guarding Washington, DC, and he promised that they would no longer be used for that and that he would send them over here. Then he asked a three star general standing behind him, the commander of all ground forces here, to also answer the question. The general said it was a problem he is working on.

The great part was that after the event was over the throng of national media following Rumsfeld — The New York Times, AP, all the major networks — swarmed to the two soldiers I brought from the unit I am embedded with. Out of the 1,000 or so troops at the event there were only a handful of guys from my unit b/c the rest were too busy prepping for our trip north. The national media asked if they were the guys with the armor problem and then stuck cameras in their faces. The NY Times reporter asked me to email him the stories I had already done on it, but I said he could search for them himself on the Internet and he better not steal any of my lines. I have been trying to get this story out for weeks — as soon as I foud out I would be on an unarmored truck — and my paper published two stories on it. But it felt good to hand it off to the national press. I believe lives are at stake with so many soldiers going across the border riding with scrap metal as protection. It may be to late for the unit I am with, but hopefully not for those who come after.

The press officer in charge of my regiment, the 278th, came up to me afterwords and asked if my story would be positive. I replied that I would write the truth. Then I pointed at the horde of national media pointing cameras and mics at the 278th guys and said he had bigger problems on his hands than the Chattanooga Times Free Press. This is what this job is all about — people need to know. The solider who asked the question said he felt good b/c he took his complaints to the top. When he got back to his unit most of the guys patted him on the back but a few of the officers were upset b/c they thought it would make them look bad. From what I understand this is all over the news back home.



+ + + + +

The newspaper, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has admitted the subterfuge — though they don't call it that:

Readers should have been told promptly that an embedded reporter had helped frame a question that a serviceman asked of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld this week in Kuwait, the reporter's publisher says.
The question to Rumsfeld from Spc. Thomas "Jerry" Wilson, 31, of Nashville, complaining that many military vehicles in Iraq are not adequately armored, has touched off a storm of new publicity about the issue.
"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....
In commending Pitts' work, Griscom, who served as White House communications director under President Reagan, said Pitts "used what was available to him to get an answer to a story that we have covered and that has been important." ....

In hindsight...? Translation: Now that we have egg on our faces because the truth got out....

I take it that at least one person at the Times Free Press is an honest man — or has an axe to grind with Lee and/or Griscom.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Fri. 12/10/04 05:49:04 PM
Categorized as Media.


Frum on "Gay" "Marriage"

Margaret writes to call attention to David Frum's observations on the dishonest, subversive ways of the homosexualists:

.... From an American point of view, however, what may be most remarkable about the Canadian debate has been its disingenuousness. Ive been participating in this argument since the late 1980s. At every step along the way, it was obvious what the next step was and what the ultimate destination would be. At every step along the way, proponents of same-sex marriage passionately denied that the next step was coming or was even contemplated....
For the advocates of same-sex marriage, federalism is a tactic, not a principle. It will be discarded as soon as it ceases to serve its purposes.
The only happy result of the Canadian tragedy is that it dramatically demonstrates the true trajectory of the marriage debate: Like Canada, the US will go all one way or the other. You can see why the people on the losing side of the current debate would want to kick the problem down the road and settle it later, when they hope that something might alter public opinion in their favor. For the same reason, people who believe in marriage as it has always been understood in the United States should insist on settling the issue now, with a federal constitutional amendment.

P.S. Just in time, this comes over the transom:

.... During the 1996 congressional debate on the Defense of Marriage Act, gay rights activist Andrew Sullivan was asked if legalized gay marriage wouldn't simply send society sliding down a "slippery slope," where the next thing on the agenda would be legalized polygamy. "To the best of my knowledge, there is no polygamists' rights organization poised to exploit same-sex marriage and return the republic to polygamous abandon," Sullivan retorted.
It wouldn't be the last time that a gay rights activist would publicly distance the movement from other sexual minorities. In 2003, Republican Senator Rick Santorum unloaded the same sort of argument on an Associated Press reporter: "If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything." In response, David Smith, the communications director of the Human Rights Campaign, said that it was outrageous for Santorum to put being gay on the same legal and moral plane as a person who commits incest. "That is repugnant in our view and not right," he said.
There are a few important lessons to be gleaned here. First, social conservatives see the slippery slope as a poison arrow that can prevent all-out gay marriage, and they will use it again and again. Second, gay marriage advocates will say anything to distance gays and lesbians from other sexual minorities: the polygamous, the swingers, the S&M practitioners, and those rare couples that happen to be related.
This arms-length strategy is good PR. The reality, though, is that non-gay sexual minority groups are doing exactly what Sullivan said was improbable in 1996: they have formed political organizations to fight for their rights....
As these groups continue to earn publicity, gay marriage proponents will increasingly see their argument attacked on both flanks. Liberals and progressives will begin to chastise those activists who sell their principles of sexual liberation down the river in the name of media spin. Those who decide to align themselves with these groups risk being viewed as extremists. Either way, it's a good guess that, like it or not, gay marriage proponents are about to start sliding down that slippery slope.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Fri. 12/10/04 08:19:13 AM
Categorized as Political.


Next DNC Chairman: Howard Dean?

Paul writes to call attention to the latest from Move On:

.... A scathing e-mail from the head of MoveOn's political action committee to the group's supporters on Thursday targets outgoing Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe as a tool of corporate donors who alienated both traditional and progressive Democrats.
"For years, the party has been led by elite Washington insiders who are closer to corporate lobbyists than they are to the Democratic base," said the e-mail from MoveOn PAC's Eli Pariser. "But we can't afford four more years of leadership by a consulting class of professional election losers."
Under McAuliffe's leadership, the message said, the party coddled the same corporate donors that fund Republicans to bring in money at the expense of vision and integrity.
"In the last year, grass-roots contributors like us gave more than $300 million to the Kerry campaign and the DNC, and proved that the party doesn't need corporate cash to be competitive," the message continued. "Now it's our party: we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back."
Pariser urged MoveOn supporters to help support a DNC chair with a bold vision to represent Democrats outside Washington. Democrats will vote at their February meeting in Washington on a successor to McAuliffe....

In related news, called to our attention by another blogger, Michael "Payback Tuesday" Moore continues to hallucinate:

"Fahrenheit 9/11" director Michael Moore on Monday rejected the idea that Hollywood had hurt John Kerry's chances of winning the White House, insisting that he and other entertainers helped spare Democrats an even bigger defeat.
"For the last month, we've had to listen to a lot of conservative pundits talk about how Democrats need to run away from Hollywood," Moore said. "It's actually the opposite. Democrats need to embrace Hollywood because this is where they need to come to learn how to tell a story."
In the final analysis, Moore said, Democratic presidential nominee Kerry was "not the best candidate." President Bush "had a more compelling story to tell and the Democrats didn't, and that has to change."....
Before the election, many Democrats and liberal activists in groups like hailed "Fahrenheit 9/11" for its scathing critique of Bush and the U.S.-led war in Iraq and saw the film as a tool for rallying opposition.
After Bush's re-election last month, some analysts suggested that Moore and other outspoken celebrities on the left had had become polarizing figures who alienated Middle America as much as they galvanized the Democratic faithful.
But Moore said he and liberal activists, including show business figures, had helped turn out millions of new voters who backed the Democrats on Election Day....

Just to refresh your memory, Faithful Reader, here is who Michael "Payback Tuesday" Moore supported before he supported John "F" Kerry.

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Fri. 12/10/04 07:58:41 AM
Categorized as Political.


File This Under "Be Careful What You Ask For"

You might get it.

At the Boston Globe, Dec. 8:

Many of the state's largest employers are dropping health benefits for unmarried gay couples, seven months after Massachusetts became the only state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Massachusetts companies, some of which pioneered so-called domestic-partner benefits for unmarried, same-sex partners, said they are now withdrawing them for reasons of fairness: If gays and lesbians can now marry, they should no longer receive special treatment in the form of health benefits that were not made available to unmarried, opposite-sex couples....

(Thanks, Diogenes.)

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Fri. 12/10/04 07:38:02 AM
Categorized as Social/Cultural.


Dayo Olopade, Bigot

I'm sure I wouldn't want to be held accountable for the rest of my life for what I thought and wrote when I was a college sophomore. But I think maybe this "black" "woman" will have it coming to her:

Is Condoleezza Rice really a black woman?
While she may appear on the outside to share the color and therefore sentiments of black people, actions speak louder than both words and skin.....
And isn't it a little fishy that Condi, clearly past her expiration date in terms of international knowledge, is still the leader of U.S. foreign policy? The position of secretary of state is not a learn-as-you-go job. In a just universe, she would be sacked for being an analog girl in a digital world. Her "expert" knowledge of foreign affairs is as rusty and outdated as the disintegrating Soviet warheads she learned Russian to contain. Times have changed, and her eastern European skill set seems 14 years behind them.
And no, I didn't slip when I referred to dear Condi as a right-hand man. Her blank-eyed compliance with W's first term misogynist agenda will surely turn into a rubber stamp in round II. We won't see the woman part of this secretary of state. After all, she knows better than to bite the hand that feeds her....

(Thanks, Susanna.)

Lane Core Jr. CIW P — Fri. 12/10/04 07:03:55 AM
Categorized as Social/Cultural.


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