A Navy veteran of the tumultuous Vietnam and Nixon years, he served his country from inside that chaotic White House. I cannot sing his praises enough! As a writer and a brother, a mentor and a friend, this man has had a life-long effect on me and so many others. Enjoy the spell he weaves with his mastery of prose and attention to detail that only his style surpasses.
alright enough already!! Like most Americans, I have been glued to my
television watching the carnage that passes for modern warfare intermixed with
the so called analysis of same from various pundits – retired senior military
officers (who by the way should know better), unemployed politicians of both
parties (who certainly should know better), and various persons of note
apparently willing to publicly display the fact that they don’t have the
slightest idea what they are talking about. This last group frankly put me in
mind of a mix of Edgar Bergan’s old pal Charlie McCarthy and the more recent
screen horror puppet “Chuckie”.
after day at the news conferences, briefings and senate subcommittee hearing
potty breaks, the same journalists ask the same inane leading questions of the
same officials, military and civilian. Why do they do this? How long does it
take for the answers they are given to sink in? What is the motivation for this
unseemly and irritating behavior? Can anyone identify it?
mother worthy of the title can identify it in a New York minute – selective
hearing. They hear only what they want to hear and ignore the rest as
irrelevant. Like petulant children bent
on having their own way, they seek to develop answers that they hope will
generate sound bites of an embarrassing or controversial nature supporting
their own political or philosophical agendas so they can file their scoops and
rush home to sit by their mailboxes waiting for their Pulitzer Prizes. To
paraphrase the Scriptures – He who lives by the sound bite will die by the
is an old tactical adage that if you give people enough rope they will
eventually hang themselves. The case may be argued that the amount of rope
required is inversely proportional to the subject’s estimation of his/her own
education or intellect. The fact that the reporter’s education may be totally
unrelated to the topic at hand and inadequate to qualify him/her as an expert
is of little consequence as far as they are concerned. They persist in feigning
a level of knowledge they obviously do not posses nor are capable of
possessing. Nor does it appear to matter that their intellect may be prejudiced
or in a lot of cases be flat out questionable.
worthy of the title should report only the facts surrounding the events they
observe or are assigned to cover. They should be skeptical of all of their
sources, official or not and always be aware of the motives or agendas of those
sources. In fact calling attention of
the public at large to these motives or agendas is often as much a part of the
story as the relevant facts surrounding it.
are after all human beings and having opinions is allowed as long as they
openly own up to them and keep them separate from their work product. Any one
with half a brain would realize that pursuing perfect objectivity is not easy.
But hey, lets be honest; that’s why they get the big bucks, perks, and
occasional trips on Air Force One.
the majority of them lose it is allowing their own emotions, prejudices, and
personal opinions to color their professional work all the while maintaining an
aura of saintly objective purity. The rest get jobs at Fox News or pursue other
careers hopefully more useful. Politics or stand-up comedy comes to mind.
is very satisfying to see a sizable majority now dining on generous servings of
crow dished up by our splendid young men and women in uniform. Imbedding
journalists with the military is a stroke of genius in my humble opinion. I
understand why a lot of members of the military establishment are uncomfortable
with the idea but it does two basic things. 1) It goes a long way towards
re-establishing trust and credibility between the military and the public which
took such a hit in the Viet Nam era and 2) it gives the local area commander
some physical control over the correspondents rather than allowing them to run
around willy-nilly getting into all kinds of trouble and making PITA’s of
themselves even more than normal.
is no experience quite as humbling as diving into a muddy hole upon hearing the
AK-47 rounds whizzing over one’s head, feeling the impacts of close RPG or
mortar rounds and dealing with the laundry and personal hygiene problems such
situations can cause. The quickest way to create an ally is to expose him to
the common danger you both face.
until now I have been mostly critical of the press at large. Please let me
shift my emphasis and hopefully clarify my stance. By and large I have no bones
to pick with the in the field working press. They are after all subject to the
influence of those who have the power to control the various aspects of their
professional lives such as pay, future assignments and the like. The function
they perform in our free society is not just necessary but critical to the
survival of our Democracy.
The middle and upper management of most press organizations however appear to be attempting to manage the news to influence public opinion rather than simply to facilitate reporting it. It is these people who in my estimation do not deserve the title of journalist - propagandists maybe but never journalists. In some cases they may even withhold or omit comment on certain stories to protect either their organization or themselves from supposed consequences. Reference the recent disclosures of the CNN official regarding the brutality of the early years of the Iraqi regime. One has to wonder what the impact of that revelation at that time might have had in the stream of current events. Timely truth always ultimately structures events in a positive way at least as much as repression of it can temporarily have negative impact.
I have already acknowledged, journalists are human beings and as such are
subject to the same weaknesses, foibles, and temptations as we all are. They
bleed, they die, and they are capable of bearing scars - those that are visible
and those that are not. In aspiring to the title of journalist, they make
certain commitments to the rest of us – to be our eyes and ears in far away places,
to always tell the truth not necessarily as they perceive it but unvarnished
bare facts, and to adhere to a self imposed standard of conduct that gives us a
measure of faith in their credibility.
commitments are often and should be grounded in good intentions; but keeping
and maintaining them should be a constant personal goal. To keep and maintain
such commitments primarily requires two basic things – integrity and sacrifice.
I doubt I could be a true journalist; not from lack of integrity or
unwillingness to sacrifice, but an aversion to dealing with the people they
have deal with and doing some of the things they have to do. It would sorely
tax my gentle Southern upbringing.
The True Cost Of Political Proctology – “It
would be nice if fear of public exposure kept the cruel, stupid and inept out
of public life and power but it hasn’t seemed to deter them in the past.”
Cancer Patience – “Experience is of no value unless it is shared.”
My Rant – “Ok boys and girls, fasten your seat belts, put your seats and tray tables in the full upright position, and get ready. I am going to try my hand at this “rant” business.”
Negro Mattie – “Perhaps the greatest testament
to Mattie’s capacity to love was the fact that we were not the only white
family to pass by her casket with tears in our eyes.”
Doc – “To say our family respected and trusted our family doctor is
Little Sisters - “I was her foil and scapegoat . . .”