Gotta love this:
I’m a reporter for a major newspaper in the northeastern US. I’m also a member of the Newspaper Guild. As a reporter at the Detroit Free Press in 1995, I participated in a strike against that newspaper, a strike which cost me my job, because I would not cross the picket line.
I take my membership in the Guild very seriously. That’s why I was dismayed to learn that you, the president of my union, made a speech on May 13 in which you asserted that the US military has deliberately killed journalists. The relevant portion of the speech was videotaped and is available for viewing here.
Since then, you have failed to provide supporting evidence for your remarks, but neither have you retracted them. I spoke with you at 11:10 AM today by telephone; union secretary-treasurer Bernard Lunzer was also on the call.
When I told you that I would publish your response to me on the Internet, you declined further comment–except for the following: “I am not going to discuss this with you on the eve of Memorial Day weekend.”
This remark strikes me as extremely odd. I can’t think of a better time to redeem the honor of the US military by beginning a serious investigation of outrageous conduct on its part. If our soldiers are deliberately killing journalists, it’s our duty to publicize it, so that such a terrible stain on our nation’s integrity may be quickly cleansed.
If, as I believe, your charge is false, I can think of no better time to retract this slander.
There’s a third possibility, though it seems to me a very remote one. I don’t see how it’s possible to misinterpret your remarks, which seem to me quite clear and unambiguous. But I’d be delighted to learn that I have misunderstood them.
I hold out some hope here, as I’ve just read a piece on the Editor & Publisher website, written by Thomas Lipscomb, who has covered this controversy for the Chicago Sun-Times. Lipscomb wrote that “Foley insists that she ‘doesn’t believe that our service men and women would knowingly fire on journalists and innocent civilians.’ “
This might be the end of it, except that earlier you made statements that sought to distinguish between “the US military” from individual soldiers. This raises the possibility that you still believe that the military high command is somehow seeking the deaths of journaiists.
Up to now, your efforts at clarification have merely muddied the waters. I declare myself confused, and I’m not happy about it. I want to be clear about where my union’s president stands on this issue.
I therefore call upon you to state clearly and unambiguously whether you believe that any branch of the US military or government has adopted a deliberate policy of targeting journalists in war zones. This is a simple question, easily answered. I can see no rational reason for you to hesitate about answering it.
At a time when the public’s trust in the integrity of journalism is at a new low, our profession can’t afford to encourage the perception that we’re economical with the truth. I trust you’ll put aside your hesitation and immediately explain yourself publicly, in a way that leaves no further doubt about your views on this matter.
Thanks for reading.
I’m glad there are still a reporter’s in the MSM who can see through the bias and actually call out a fellow journalist for her idiotic statement. I will make it a point to read this reporter’s column regularly.
Check out the article the reporter is referring to in E&P, makes some great points:
Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley made a public statement on May 13 that journalists are ?being targeted for real in places like Iraq.? She has been trying to slide out of it ever since. Pressed by E&P?s Joe Strupp, Foley offered a clarification on who specifically was doing the targeting: ?I was careful of not saying troops, I said U.S. military.?
Everette Dennis, a former dean of a journalism school and founder of the Gannett Center for Media Studies, finds this a distinction without a difference. ?A military without troops is inconceivable,? he told me this week. ?One presupposes the other.? It is as logically impossible to separate the troops from the military as it is egg whites from an omelet.
Every talking head rushed on air 24/7 to attack or defend what Jordan had supposedly said, and forests of newsprint were devoted to pundantics on the theme. And because no transcript was ever released, the entire affair was conducted in an embarrassing blather of hearsay.
Foley had the advantage of seeing what happened to Jordan and, as the head of a powerful union of 35,000 journalists and media workers, she knew anything she said about targeting journalists would likely be scrutinized. So one would expect that she has a pretty solid case for her revival of the discredited Jordan charges? But one would be wrong. Her spokesperson, Candice Johnson, told me Foley can provide ?no evidence? to support her charges either.
To date, not a single pundit, editorial writer, or newspaper ran anything, with the exception of the Chicago Sun-Times story I wrote, a St. Paul Pioneer Press column by Mark Yost, and a Washington Times column item.
Clearly Foley was correct in assuming the Right was the only danger to her repetition of the statement that got Eason Jordan canned. The Mainstream Media couldn?t be bothered to cover ?Easongate: The Sequel.? And positioning Foley as the gallant defender of the lives of journalists targeted by the U.S. military was inspired PR. After all, Sherlock Holmes?s dog didn?t bark because he was good friends with the thief.
Foley decided to improve the odds and issued another statement to me. In a further clarification of her clarification, Foley insists that she ?doesn’t believe that our service men and women would knowingly fire on journalists and innocent civilians.?
So follow the logic. It is the U.S. military, not the troops, who targeted journalists. But if an occasional service man or woman just might have fired a tank round or two into the Palestine Hotel and killed some journalists, or dropped a bomb on Al Jazeera?s studio in Baghdad using the coordinates from the U.S. military (both cited in her letter to President Bush of April 8 th demanding an investigation), they didn?t do it ?knowingly.?
If the most basic tenets of Journalism 101 are now no longer important enough for the media itself to honor and defend against their own members who violate them, where is the professionalism and the authority that is our main claim to writing the indispensable ?first draft of history? ? much less its value for sale? And if we lose sight of that irretrievably, who needs us? There are bloggers out there today with more credibility than Dan Rather, Mary Mapes, Eason Jordan, and Linda Foley combined, and their audiences are growing.
If Foley is allowed to walk unchallenged from what Mencken might have called ?a clear, simple, and? unproven statement, it will only accelerate the speed at which her members lose what is left of their credibility–and then their jobs. (Look at The New York Times newsroom downsizing this week.) If the press isn?t going to take its own standards seriously, it is hard to think of why anyone should take the press seriously enough to pay for it. In the meantime, Rupert Murdoch?s and Roger Ailes?s success offers a constant unpleasant reminder: the media market prefers dogs that bark.