Monday, October 15, 2007

 

The Rest of the Speech

Senior General blasts media, Congress, two party political partisanship, and the Bush Administration’s management of the war, and only the last gets reported. Would you have expected any more from mainstream media (MSM)?

Soldier’s Dad at MILBLOGS provides a rough transcript of Sanchez’s recent speech. His criticisms are withering, but lo and behold, Sanchez’s indictment of the media makes his criticism of the war effort seem almost collegial.

Here’s an extended excerpt of what didn’t get reported by the MSM:

Given the near instantaneous ability to report actions on the ground, the responsibility to accurately and truthfully report takes on an unprecedented importance. The speculative and often uninformed initial reporting that characterizes our media appears to be rapidly becoming the standard of the industry.  An Arab proverb states - "four things come not back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past, the neglected opportunity." once reported, your assessments become conventional wisdom and nearly impossible to change. Other major challenges are your willingness to be manipulated by "high level officials" who leak stories and by lawyers who use hyperbole to strengthen their arguments. Your unwillingness to accurately and prominently correct your mistakes and your agenda driven biases contribute to this corrosive environment.

All of these challenges combined create a media environment that does a tremendous disservice to America. Over the course of this war tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for America because of the tremendous power and impact of the media and by extension you the journalist. In many cases the media has unjustly destroyed the individual reputations and careers of those involved. We realize that because of the near real time reporting environment that you face it is difficult to report accurately. In my business one of our fundamental truths is that "the first report is always wrong." unfortunately, in your business "the first report" gives Americans who rely on the snippets of CNN, if you will, their "truths" and perspectives on an issue. As a corollary to this deadline driven need to publish "initial impressions or observations" versus objective facts there is an additional challenge for us who are the subject of your reporting. When you assume that you are correct and on the moral high ground on a story because we have not respond to questions you provided is the ultimate arrogance and distortion of ethics. One of your highly respected fellow journalists once told me that there are some amongst you who "feed from a pig's trough." if that is who I am dealing with then I will never respond otherwise we will both get dirty and the pig will love it. This does not mean that your story is accurate.

I do not believe that this is what our forefathers intended. The code of ethics for the society of professional journalists states:
...public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility

The basic ethics of a journalist that calls for:

1. Seeking truth,

2. Providing fair and comprehensive account of events and issues

3. Thoroughness and honesty

All are victims of the massive agenda driven competition for economic or political supremacy. The death knell of your ethics has been enabled by your parent organizations who have chosen to align themselves with political agendas. What is clear to me is that you are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war.

My assessment is that your profession, to some extent, has strayed from these ethical standards and allowed external agendas to manipulate what the American public sees on TV, what they read in our newspapers and what they see on the web. For some of you, just like some of our politicians, the truth is of little to no value if it does not fit your own preconceived notions, biases and agendas.

It is astounding to me when I hear the vehement disagreement with the military's forays into information operations that seek to disseminate the truth and inform the Iraqi people in order to counter our enemy's blatant propaganda. As I assess various media entities, some are unquestionably engaged in political propaganda that is uncontrolled. There is no question in my mind that the strength our democracy and our freedoms remain linked to your ability to exercise freedom of the press - I adamantly support this basic foundation of our democracy and completely supported the embedding of media into our formations up until my last day in uniform. The issue is one of maintaining professional ethics and standards from within your institution. Military leaders must accept that these injustices will happen and whether they like what you print or not they must deal with you and enable you, if you are an ethical journalist.

Finally, I will leave this subject with a question that we must ask ourselves--who is responsible for maintaining the ethical standards of the profession in order to ensure that our democracy does not continue to be threatened by this dangerous shift away from your sacred duty of public enlightenment?

Ethics in Journalism? What’s the General thinking?

No matter. The MSM showed him who’s boss. None of the comments above got mentioned anywhere except on conservative blogs.

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