19 April 2008
Instead of dullards from CBS News and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, it would be refreshing if the KDH would instead carry cogent pundits like Ralph Peters in the editorial section.
Ralph and I were students at the US Army Command & General Staff College in 1991-1992. Ralph never shies from the truth and articulates his points in a succinct and convincing manner. Some may find his delivery acerbic, but few Soldiers I know disagree with the essence of his points; unlike we do other retired talking heads.
The New York Post carries Ralph and published the following on April 11, 2008. As usual, he’s spot on.
Still Serving & Army Strong!
PRESS 1, TROOPS 0
By RALPH PETERS
TODAY, the Newseum - a 250,000-square-foot homage to journalism that cost $450 million to build - opens on Pennsylvania Avenue, midway between the White House and the Capitol.
What's wrong with this picture?
Other than the (symbolic?) fact that the building's an architectural mishmash, it's this: There's no museum in the vicinity of the National Mall dedicated to our military.
Tells you a lot about the vanity and priorities of today's governing and informational "elite," doesn't it? Ignore the blood, enshrine the ink. A Pulitzer Prize outranks a Congressional Medal of Honor.
I don't really begrudge journalists their we-love-us monument. Massive egos need a massive building (total of 643,000 sq. ft., including a new Wolfgang Puck restaurant). But isn't something fundamentally wrong when there's plenty of donor funding available for a museum glorifying those who cover our wars, but not a cent to tell the stories of those who fight them?
Having served in our Army for more than two decades, followed by a decade's adjunct membership in the media, I have to tell my new colleagues to get a grip: You are not the story.
Let's be honest: Journalists are parasites. Whether war correspondents or metro-desk editor, we live off the deeds and misdeeds of others. They do, we tell. Without the soldiers, cops and firemen (or the politicians, terrorists and criminals), there ain't no stories.
And for the record: I don't throw words around. The primary definition of "parasite" in the Oxford English Dictionary (Fifth Edition) is "a person who lives at the expense of another person or of society in general."
To paraphrase Johnnie Cochran, "If the epithet fits, you must admit."
Of course, any biologist will tell you that there are good parasites and bad ones, so we're not condemning the entire profession here. Just noting that journalists piggyback on the courage or failings of others.
When I go to Iraq, I recognize that I'm just a privileged tourist among our troops. I wish more journalists figured that one out.
What happened? It's pretty straightforward. Journalism was always something of an outsiders' profession. The great war correspondents of the past - Ernie Pyle, Richard Tregaskis, Edward R. Murrow, Bill Mauldin and their like - either came up from the same tough streets or small towns as the soldiers they covered or at least knew the kind of folks who served in the ranks.
Not these days, pardner. Today, big-media journalism is a white-collar, insiders' profession that grows more elitist by the year.
The change began in Vietnam, when ambitious young men (and some women) looking for kicks after college went slumming amid the carnage. Some had big talents; all had big egos.
That's when journalists began casting themselves as the heroes of their stories, as the courageous fighters for truth, as the saviors of the nation and all humanity.
Then came Watergate, when two young reporters brought down a presidency and were rewarded by successive bestsellers and a film in which two real-life nebbishes were played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman.
Journalism faculties boomed. Journalism began to be written for other journalists, for prizes, not for the people.
From "All The President's Men" forward, journalism was the ultimate career for the well-educated, well-connected young voyeur who didn't want any bottom-line responsibility (just a byline, thanks). No need to get dirty, at least not for very long. Just make fun of the young soldiers or cops who get dirty every day.
It's gotten so bad that one middleweight media concern in DC now does all it can to hire only Ivy League grads.
Think there's any exaggeration in this column? Let's have a pop quiz:
Name some journalists who've reported from Iraq. Even if the names come a bit slowly, the faces in those TV stand-ups leap to mind, don't they? We know who the reporters are. (A public-affairs officer described one network anchor who touched down briefly for street cred as "The most frightened human being I've ever seen.")
Question No. 2: Name one decorated hero from Iraq or Afghanistan. Just one. Out of the Congressional Medal of Honor winners, or from among those awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, or out of the hundreds whose selfless courage earned them a Silver Star or a Bronze Star with V-device (for valor).
If you can't name a single hero, can you at least picture one face? They way you remember the smarter-than-thou mugs of the journalists posing in helmets and flak jackets behind the cafeteria in the Green Zone?
In World War II, we knew the names of our military heroes. Now we know the names of the journalists who, at most, report an act of heroism as "Sergeant X lost his life defending his fellow soldiers in a botched military operation." (In the media world, all military operations are botched.)
Yes, I realize we need a free media. (My officer's oath was to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." And the First Amendment, well, it comes first. Got it.) But with freedom comes responsibility.
Would it be too much to ask for a little humility on the part of the privileged? Yesterday, at Ft. Bragg, I met a Special Forces sergeant-major whose courage won him the Distinguished Service Cross. He'll never earn what a TV anchor earns.
Yesteryear's journalists viewed our troops as their brothers. Today's star journalists regard our troops as props.
Is any journalist - any journalist - really more heroic than the least private in an Infantry platoon? Where's Private Smith's museum in the heart of our nation's Capitol?
The Newseum will charge a $20 admission fee. I checked with the institution's public-relations department: There's no military discount.
Last edited by Stu
on Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.