Category Archives: Media vs. Military

Paper’s Late and Insincere Apology for Slander

MARSOC-meltdown(Note: we wrote this and scheduled it, we thought, for the 18th. But many things are going on and so we’re hitting “publish” a couple of days later. Military Times has now published the third installment of its five part story, and is suggesting it will take two weeks or more to finish the two remaning installments — 20 Mar 15. Ed.).

Marine Corps Times, one of the military papers focused on personnel issues (who’s on the promotion list, etc.) that the relentlessly anti-military and anti-soldier Gannett Corporation acquired from Army Times Publishing Company, had great fun in 2008 with a story suggesting that the Marines of MARSOC lost control and massacred great numbers of civilians.

The title of the story was: “Meltdown at TF Violence: Uncovered — the hidden story of the MarSOC Marines who shamed the Corps.”

The story was “hidden” for a good reason: the tale of massacre flowed from fabrications and falsified evidence by, in part, JAG officers (gee, there’s a shock, not) that was then leaked to friendly reporters (another unsurprise). They didn’t even get the name of the MARSOC task force right, which shows you how deep and well-sourced their story wasn’t.  And now, the story has not exactly been retracted, or even apologized for, but Gannett’s peer paper Military Times is sloooowly running a five-part reported thumbsucker about what really happened. (This time, they’re going to pinky-swear, perhaps).

And guess what? There was no truth in the rush to judgment by the media, including Marine Corps Times, and bad leadership, including essentially all of the Army and Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and certain careerist officers, including Army MG Frank Kearney and Kearney’s rumpswab, Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Pihana, who were eager to throw the Marines under the bus. (This doesn’t surprise anyone who knows Kearney, a man of immeasurably low character). Marine officers who were hostile to the idea of an elite within the Corps, far from standing up for their Marines, greased the skids under them. Pihana, assigned with a wink and a nod to “investigate” the incident, dismissed all Marine testimony, however independently taken, as “lies,” accepted all Afghan testimony, and made contrary evidence disappear.

In the civilian world, that’s obstruction of justice, a serious felony. For Pihana, it was the order he got from Kearney, and the two of them, far from being charged, were decorated and promoted. As were the Marine officers who were willing to see seven Marines framed for murder for, as they saw it, “the good of the Corps.”

As we said, the Gannett crapweasels never actually retract their original story. They get this close:

Marine Corps Times… published a cover story in February 2008 boasting of hidden details about the “meltdown” within Task Force Violent and the “cowboys” who shamed the Corps — a characterization that has proven unfair and untrue.

That’s better than nothing, just; they use a variety of passive constructions to weasel around the fact that they were some of the key clowns in the circus (many media stories cited the Marine Corps Times fabrications as authoritative). For example, “….an incomplete narrative would emerge.” Nobody created it, you see. This goose egg of a story was here and just hatched. 

It’s nice (well, it isn’t really; it’s actually depressing) to learn that the Marines can be as blockheadedly focused on intramural  score-settling and as as passive-aggressive as leaders as the Army can, but the question is, why should we trust this report from the same integrity-challenged guys who took great pleasure in starting the whole juggernaut rolling downhill in the first place? We probably shouldn’t. But it’s one more data point out there.

Task Force Violent: The unforgiven

Part 3 comes tomorrow. Two more parts are scheduled beyond that.

This first parts of the story are interesting in that they claim that the Marines prepared for a kinetic, direct-action mission profile for Iraq, and were told only at the last minute that they were going to Afghanistan, so they had no worthwhile cultural and linguistic preparation. All the leaders asked about this made like the famous Nast cartoon, “Who took the money?”

To retitle Nast: "Who's Accountable?"

To retitle Nast: “Who’s Accountable?”

We can’t say who betrayed MARSOC, although given Kearney’s history with Special Forces guys and wild, improbable accusations, we’ll never believe his protestations of innocence. But we don’t trust these Gannett media wallahs as far as we can throw the Hindu Kush.

That MARSOC did not debut in the Corps to spontaneous and sustained hosannas is, of course, old news.

Fewer Gongs for Modern Marines? .

USMC EGA eagle globe and anchorIt’s definitely a common belief (although not a universal one) among the combat grunts of the ground services that that higher echelons of command have gotten, to use a word that doesn’t really fit the seriousness of the claim, stingy about awarding high valor awards, compared to the rate of awards in previous conflicts. Marine Major Christopher B. Mays puts it like this:

There is a perception by Marines that the award process is more restrictive and that fewer valor awards have been awarded in Iraq and Afghanistan than in previous wars. ….

A multitude of potential questions could be asked concerning the awarding of personal decorations for valor in combat. Is it a valid perception that the U.S. Marine Corps is more restrictive in awarding valor decorations in OIF/OEF? Is there a significant difference in the frequency of valor decorations awarded for each conflict or war during the period from WWI to the War on Terror? If so, why?

What Maj. Mays did, as you may have guessed from the tone of the above paragraphs, is analyze the “top three” awards (MOH, Navy Cross, Silver Star) longitudinally across all the Marines’ many armed conflicts from WWI to today.

In fact, the number of valor awards has declined precipitously since Vietnam, compared to a fairly stable level from WWI through Korea and the early years of Vietnam. World War I makes an interesting comparison, an indirect comparison because the Silver Star Medal was not available in World War I, because the Marines suffered just about twice as many KIA in WWI as they had done as of the study’s cut-off date in OIF/OEF, 2461 vs 1220. Yet the disparity in medals is greater — even when Silver Stars are added in, the number of top-three awards in OIF/OEF is under 40% of the number of top-two awards in WWI. MOHs are only awarded at 15%, and Navy Crosses at 8%, of the WWI rate, a disparity only partially compensated by the existence, now, of lower valor awards that were created after World War I.

USMC WWI OIF/OEF
KIA 2461 1222 49.7%
MOH 13 2 15.4%
NC 394 32 8.1%
SSM 0 127
total 407 161 39.6%

Moreover, comparing citations (which was beyond the scope of this paper), it’s hard to identify a World War I MOH or Navy Cross that can reasonably be said to merit only a Bronze Star or Silver Star.

The situation is even more disparate when you compare later wars with OIF/OEF.

USMC WWII OIF/OEF
KIA 19733 1222 6.2%
MOH 81 2 2.5%
NC 957 32 3.3%
SSM 3758 127 3.4%
total 4796 161 3.4%
USMC Korea OIF/OEF
KIA/DOW 3852 1222 31.7%
MOH 42 2 4.8%
NC 221 32 14.5%
SSM 1571 127 8.1%
total 5686 161 2.8%

We could go on, but you get the point. Either today’s Marines are considerably less nervy than their institutional (and often, the way service has come to run in families, familial) antecedents, or the Marines as an institution has lost interest in recognizing its Marines’ valor.

We, having known Marines of all these generations, except, sadly World War One, have a strong opinion on this issue, which we’ll keep to ourselves just now, because this post is about Major Mays’s research, not our opinion.

The official response from the Marine Corps Awards Branch defends the way in which it awards medals. The Marine Corps Awards Branch Head, Mr. Lee Freund stated, “A much more correct observation would be that the Marine Corps staunchly avoids inflation of valor awards and consistently seeks to ensure that the level of valor required to earn a specific valor award remains consistent with awards earned by Marines in previous conflicts.” However, the findings detailed in …[the study]… do not agree with the statements made by the head of the Awards Branch, numerically speaking. There is a disparity in the number of valor awards given during OIF/OEF when compared to all previous wars from WWI to OIF/OEF.

So why is this of interest to us? We’ve never been Marines, and we’ve never been given any high decoration. No more do we harbor any resentful feeling that we deserve one; all we did was hold up our end of the log when the duty was ours. But we think the same dynamic, whatever it may be, is at work in all services. Mays tries to understand and explain why this is happening in his Corps, but the scope of his research is necessarily limited. He suggests that a cultural change that devalues awards consequent to a general devaluing of the services may be a factor; the constant media and entertainment-culture disparagement of the military virtues may be being reflected in the services themselves.

It’s also clearly the case that the bureaucratic and administrative topheaviness of the Corps and the DOD is a factor. In World War II, paper awards recommendations handled by jack-of-all-trades unit clerks usually led to an award in weeks or months. In OIF/OEF, a dedicated computerized awards system operated by a bloated clerical establishment takes years to act, or, as is often the case, to fail to act.

But the reasons require further study, and Maj. Mays has suggested some positive research questions that future researchers can use to hammer out some answers. Fixing the problem — now that Mays has documented that there is a problem — will require command attention (if it doesn’t get it, it will get Congressional attention, and we can’t imagine any way that will make things better).

Major Christopher B. Mays has provided a valuable service to the Corps, the DOD and the nation by documenting the fact that awards incidence has declined in the current unpleasantness — some DOD officials have been inclined to pass this widespread perception off as mere whining by pampered troops and officers. If you are interested in this kind of thing, you should Read The Whole Thing™: Top 3 Valor Awards USMC ADA611586.pdf

Newsmen, We Know Snipers. This Clown Was No Sniper

USMC Sniper scope3In Lake Worth, Florida, the media scared the crap out of the public with sensationalistic headlines.

Report: SWAT Teams Responding to Possible Naked Sniper Situation in Lake Worth

via SWAT Teams in Lake Worth Respond to Possible Sniper Situation | New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

That seems weird. Normally we associate “sniper” with many things, but “naked” isn’t one of them. There’s a pretty substantial difference between one’s ghillie suit and his birthday suit, and most people smarter than a journalist wouldn’t mistake one for the other.

There’s apparently a naked man on a building rooftop on a sniper perch, with a gun. This according to a Facebook and Twitter account called Palm Beach County Alerts.

According to the alert, numerous Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach Fire Rescue units are surrounding the area of 1700 S. Federal Highway in Lake Worth. That is the address for the Shangri-La Hotel. The area has been evacuated, according to the report.

A guy listening to the public-safety stations on a scanner — something that’s apparently beyond credentialed “reporters” these days — had an interesting fact or two.

He says police are saying the man is naked and rolling around atop the roof of the building. The man also reportedly has a gun and at least at one point placed the weapon in his mouth.

The man is acting extremely psychotic, according to the report.

Ever try to put an M-24 in your mouth, let alone an M82A1? Would. Not. Go.

They never did correct the headline. As the news outlet later admitted they knew at the time, he only had a handgun, and had actually asked someone to call the police, because “I feel delusional, and I’m hallucinating!”

Handgun != sniper. Also, drugs and a handgun and acting out in public != sniper.

Leroy Strothers, 33, put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger when police approached him. It didn’t fire, and he never threatened the cops or anyone but himself. The Palm Beach (County) Sheriff’s Office SWAT team ultimately talked him into giving up the gun. In the follow-up story, the paper suggests that Strothers might have fired one shot in the air before the police came.

He also told the officers that he was under the influence of flakka, a designer drug that is vaped with an e-cigarette (not to be confused with “Budder,” another designer street drug which is a wax form of marijuana). Flakka is made with similar ingredients used to make bath salts, the recreational designer drug that’s made headlines recently and is linked to dangerous hallucinations and maybe even responsible for the face-eating incident in Miami, though that’s still being debated.

Flakka, or “Gravel,” which is an a-PVP (or, methylenedioxypyrovalerone) — a hodgepodge mix of chemicals, like sort of a cross between crack cocaine and meth — is becoming widely popular throughout South Florida. It’s cheap, easy to get and reportedly induces behavior in smokers similar to that of meth.

Police have not confirmed if Strothers was on flakka, but he says he was. When PBSO SWAT was able to calm him down and talk him off the roof, Smothers was arrested and transported to JFK Hospital by Palm Beach Fire Rescue for evaluation.

When officers recovered the gun, they found that it was loaded with eight bullets. Police also found a bullet casing on the roof. Some witnesses had reported on social media seeing Strothers firing the gun into the air before police arrived.

Oh, and how do you think the paper described this buck-naked, pistol-wielding druggie? You know it, “Lake Worth Sniper.”

PTSD claim in 5… 4… 3…

How NBC’s Lisa Myers Falsified a Gun Control Story, and Brian Williams Dumped on MOH vets

NBC-Red-Banner-logoIn a column about lying four-flusher Brian Williams, the Boston Herald’s Howie Carr remembers another incident with NBC News. Actually, Howie remembers a bunch of incidents. Remember NBC editing the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin 911 tape to make Zimmerman sound like a racist? Remember Dateline NBC wiring a GM truck with explosives to suggest that the vehicle was unsafe? Howie did.

But he also remembered the one time they came to him for a story, and then NBC’s Lisa Myers lied about what people were saying on his popular drive-time talk show.

It used to be a big deal to get on one of the nightly network newscasts. That was a long time ago, about 25 million viewers ago. But one day, I got a call from the Nothing But Crap Nightly News. Some legislation to gut the Second Amendment was coming up and they wanted some radio talk-show response. C’mon up, I told them.

Having once worked as a reporter for the local See B.S. affiliate, I figure I have a pretty good ear for TV sound bites. But I always try to give New York a good selection to choose from. So my first hour — to make their deadline — I talked to 25 callers, 23 of whom were opposed to gutting the Second Amendment.

At 6:30 there I was, in a Lisa Myers piece about the gun legislation. She said something like, even conservative talk-show callers back Big Brother’s common-sense approach to disarming the American public. And then they played three of my callers, two of the two who were for gun control, and one of the 23 who didn’t want to screw around with the Bill of Rights.

Was I surprised that Brian Williams of Nothing But Crap News has now been busted? No, but I was very, very happy.

via Carr: Brian Williams’ ‘mistake’ puts him in good company | Boston Herald.

Another Herald columnist, Peter Gelzinis, noted that NBC’s Brian Williams, now under the gun for fake war stories, went out of his way to lie to the national convention of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in 2006. He blew off a prior engagement to speak at the convention for a new engagement that had popped up… Saturday Night Live. Gelzinis:

But when he arrived on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006, Williams told committee members Tom Lyons and Neal Santangelo that a “pressing engagement” back in New York prevented him from doing much more than greeting the audience of more than 1,000 guests … and leaving.

As disappointed as Lyons and Santangelo were, they still arranged for a police escort to rush Williams through the tunnel to catch his plane back to NYC.

After the banquet, as Santangelo, Lyons and other committee members relaxed in a lounge at the Colonnade Hotel, Neal Santangelo’s wife phoned from their room to say she knew why Brian Williams had to bail out of a Medal of Honor banquet.

She was watching the chiseled face of “NBC Nightly News” ham it up with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler in a Weekend Update sketch on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I … cannot believe that you left us for this,” Neal Santangelo wrote in a letter to Williams a week after the banquet. “In an act of egotistical, blatant self-promotion, you deceived the (Medal of Honor) Recipients, declined to break bread with them and disrespected them.

“You placed comedy before courage … Your conduct was irreverent, insulting, incomprehensible and shameful. You may attempt to ‘spin’ the issue to support your position, but that will do nothing but bring you further shame in my eyes.”

The three-page letter Neal Santangelo wrote out of pure rage and emotion was never sent.

Neal was asked not to send it at the time by the national leadership of the society — they were willing to eat the snub for some support from Williams, which naturally never materialized — so he put it away. But as Gelzinis notes, Neal knew from that instant on that Williams was a phony’s phony, and it was no shock to him when the shifty newsreader turned out to have been making up news stories, too — stories that often inflated Williams’s reputation at the expense of the real vets he held in such contempt.

Yes, we can say that. The helicopter stolen valor and the lying snub of the MOH society display a pattern of contempt.

Williams’s stolen valor is far from unique among media poseurs. The king of them may be Geraldo Rivera. And, contrary to the Columbia School’s gentle breeze of bullshit about integrity, every network had employed a fabricator, and none of the fabricators has lost his career.

Williams has never apologized for stiffing the Medal of Honor recipients nine years ago, just like Lisa Myers has still never apologized for falsifying her story using Howie’s sound clips. Both have been held up by their peers as examples of what passes for character among journalists.

It could just be that they really are.

UPDATE:

Screenwriter and novelist Andrew Klavan, citing Prof. W. Joseph Campbell whose Getting it Wrong is an essential guide to media mythmaking, notes a propos Williams. (Edited, and emphasis ours):

[The media Cronkite myth] explains why Brian Williams’ trustworthiness doesn’t matter, why the trustworthiness of television (and newspaper) “journalists” no longer matters in general, and why the internet upended them and rendered them obsolete. It’s not merely one technology replacing another. Mainstream journalists could maintain their authority amidst the noise… if they just didn’t lie all the time. All. The. Time. It’s because they don’t tell the truth that we don’t trust them. They keep silent about what they don’t want us to know (say, the IRS scandal) and overplay what they want us to care about (the Valerie Plame non-scandal)….They don’t even know what the truth is! They all live happily together in a foggy wonderland of left-wing mythology where its ALL Brian Williams under RPG fire all the time.

You can tell they’re lyin’, ’cause their lips are movin’. That’s about the size of it.

“Men’s Magazines”? For what set of “men”?

Real men: Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, Buzz Armstrong, Summer '69.

Real men: Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Summer ’69.

Is there anything lamer than so-called “men’s magazines” that are published by some gang of effete metrosexual New Yorkers, presumably for other effete metrosexual New Yorkers, and the limp-wristed set everywhere that aspires to be them?

Here’s an example, from the laughably named GQ, formerly “Gentlemen’s Quarterly.” Some effervescent airhead named Jeanne Marie Laskas managed an interview with Buzz Freaking Aldrin.

A substantial guy, at 85.

Now, like half of America, we’ve met Aldrin, and you know what? He’s a substantial guy, who wants to talk about substance. At 85, he’s still sharp. But his interviewer is hell for dull. Laskas is bored by orbital mechanics, so she keeps going back, as you might expect for a superficial GQ type, to what she can understand.

And that is? What he’s wearing. Seriously. Sometimes she sounds like some perv on an IRC channel: Wat U wearin? 

She has the answers, this is big-J Columbia School Journalism for you:

He’s wearing a lapel pin of his famous moon footprint in miniature, cast in pewter. He’s wearing a tan corduroy jacket, a tie with pictures of planets all over it. He’s wearing bracelets, big beads. Turquoise on one wrist and a string of translucent alien faces or something on the other.

The jewelry is distracting. There is more. A gigantic double watch, two faces fused together like heads on conjoined twins. There are gold rings, a moon, a star, diamonds, a pinkie ring, many rings. What is up with the jewelry? It’s confusing. Wait, jewelry?

But to Laskas, everything is distracting. She has the focus of a hamster on meth, and her article is an impressionistic splash of her feelings and sensations. She’s as deep as a bird bath, and not nearly as practically useful. Even if you’re not a bird.

In the end, even though it’s supposedly a profile of Aldrin, it tells you a lot about the very uninteresting Laskas, and damned little about Aldrin, who has a book in the stores describing a practical pathway to Mars, a fact she, who is very uninterested in Aldrin beyond his clothes sense, somehow fails to mention. Anywhere. Anywhere at all in the interminable article.

Well, it’s not like the readership of GQ would get anywhere with the orbital mechanics, is it? The nearest they get to the space program is stocking up on Astro Glide.

 

 

 

Army Will not Prosecute Deserter / Traitor Bergdahl

You read it here first: US Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his unit in combat and aided the enemy with information they used in subsequent attacks of his betrayed unit, is not going to be prosecuted by the Army.

That’s the message sent between the lines by a preparation-of-the-battlefield leak to one of the favorite leakers of the lame-duck SecDef, and of administration DOD political appointees in general, Lolita Baldor of AP.

Baldor has been given a background briefing on how rare prosecution of deserters is, in advance of the announcement. The subtext is, there’s nothing special about this guy, this is all just routine Army administration. 

That subtext is, if we need to say it, bullshit.

The U.S. Army has prosecuted about 1,900 cases of desertion since 2001, despite tens of thousands of soldiers fleeing the service in the face of deadly combat, long and multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and strains on military families.

The data reflects how rarely the military takes desertion cases to court. And it underscores the complexities of such cases as a top military commander reviews the investigation of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who left his Afghanistan post in 2009 and was captured and held by the Taliban for five years.

That’s really rare? Most of the 20k deserters DFR are guys who walked off after basic training, or in their first unit. It’s very doubtful that the nearly 2,000 prosecuted were all overseas or combat desertions. Indeed, Bergdahl is the only  combat desertion we’re aware of, and the only one who went beyond bugging out to aid the enemy.

In some circles, that makes him a hero. Those would be the same circles that bow to our enemies.

More than 20,000 soldiers have been dropped from the rolls as deserters since 2006, Army data show. Totals for earlier years weren’t available, but likely include thousands more.

In trial cases over the last 13 years, about half the soldiers pleaded guilty to deserting their post. Another 78 were tried and convicted of desertion.

….

Soldiers who avoid deployment or leave posts in combat zones are more serious cases, particularly if the deserter is responsible for standing guard or protecting others in dangerous places.

via Army Data Shows Rarity of Desertion Prosecutions – ABC News.

The point being, when they let Bergdahl slide they’re not doing anything special.

There’s also one outright falsehood in Baldor’s column: Army spokesman Wayne Hall is quoted  claiming that GEN Mark Milley, commander of FORSCOM, has “broad discretion” in the decision about Bergdahl. Anyone who believed Milley has free hands in this has less understanding of the Army than we’d expect from someone like Lolita Baldor (who has been writing nonsense about the military for her whole career). In fact, the decision is a political decision, and Milley’s hands are tied; he’s merely the delivery system for a decision that was made in Washington, and almost certainly in the White House.

The problem is, fundamentally, that the President, his advisors, and the lame-duck SecDef are well-attuned to the sufferings, if any, of Bergdahl, and put much less value on those of his unit peers whom he condemned to injury and death when he turned coat. Indeed, they’re much more sympathetic to the views of the five top Taliban and Haqqani Net terrorists they swapped for him. Being the in Acela Corridor crowd means you can transcend obsolete concepts like Duty, Honor or Country. To those people, Bergdahl is a “hero,” in a rare unironic use of the word, for them.

The Bergdahl trade needs to be rehabilitated, after some of the terrorists released on his behalf were implicated in the Taliban’s murder of 140 Pakistanis, mostly schoolchildren, in a Peshawar school. Connected Army folks think it’s going to happen in the next few days, when eyes are not on DC.

Fortunately for the Taliban, for the politicians who value them more than our own soldiers or their families, and, especially, for traitor Bowe Bergdahl, there are people in the press willing to be their Sons of Ham, “the hewers of wood and the drawers of water.”

Like Lolita C. Baldor of the Associated Press. Whose phone rings every time a Big Lie needs some polish, and wide release.

Where “Tripwire Vet” Stories Come from, Part II

In Part I of this 2-part series, we showed you an article about how journalists at the profession’s allegedly most prestigious school — the Columbia School of Journalism — are taught to lie (although the article’s author, Michael Lewis, says “obfuscate” — and slant their work. Now let’s look at another source of slanted, agenda journalism: shadowy nonprofits.

In a frankly unbelievable and thinly reported heart-warmer about how two workers at a bankrupt California assisted-living home continued treating and caring for the residents, NPR exposed, in the credits, one such nonprofit:

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

via ‘If We Left, They Wouldn’t Have Nobody’ : NPR.

A sidebar has three more StoryCorps stories on offer: and quite remarkably, all are “pity the poor veteran” tales. They are:

If you squint a bit, you can see John Kerry (a lifelong C- student) smirking as he derides enlisted chumps (by whom he means, “those not born to wealth and connections, unlike me”) who “get stuck in Iraq.”

These stories are catnip to the Columbia grads at Narodniy Politicheskiy Radio. For example, the suicidal-thoughts story centers on a soldier’s discovery, ten years later, that he has had a traumatic brain injury.

Just after hearing from a buddy that he has a 100% disability for one, the young man remembered that he, too, was blow’d up.

Well, it could happen, but these things do seem to be a theme, and it turns out that StoryWorks actively solicits them, for its too-lazy-to-report-ourselves journalist partners at NPR, who can just sit and wait for someone else to create the stories they want.

StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Miraculously, every one of those stories seems to be something along the lines of “Damaged, scary vet needs help from social service agencies,” just the sort of thing that set’s NPRnik’s red little hearts aflutter.

See some themes emerging, or what?

While we don’t doubt that those stories are the way their single sources see things, and some of them legitimately make you go, “Awww….” (try the Iraqi interpreter story, and the Marine who’s not letting burns define his life), the themes StoryCorps’ faceless, manipulative world-changers are aiming for are not exactly hard to discern. Indeed, we found only two positive stories about the military, and one was from 60 years ago:

We’ve beat on StoryCorps here, and they deserve a good beatdown, but they’re not the only group with shadowy funding spinning the press against vets (a spin that meets no resistance, because the press is already merrily spinning in the same direction). The emergence of these sorts of predigested pablum producers has been a delight for editors — canned human interest stories matching their prejudices, comforting the comfortable and afflicting the outgroup, and for short money, without needing to dictate the story to their own reporters before dispatching them to fill in the quote holes. The publisher can write one check a month to StoryCorps and get his news-hole filler or clickbait articles, ones that will never challenge his readers.

This is why you never see a story about a veteran who founded a business, anchors a small community, or, Gaia forfend,  stayed in the military to mentor, train and lead the next generation. That’s not The Narrative®, silly.

Where “Tripwire Vet” Stories Come from, Part I

Apparently we’re not the only ones dismayed to encounter graduates of journalism schools; even the newspapers have caught on and aren’t hiring them. Writing in 1993 in The New Republic, a key pub for the sort of trust-fund lefties who seek to change the world through their inspired slant on writing, Michael Lewis recounted the low opinions working newsmen have of the grads of J-Schools in general and especially the Columbia School of Journalism (a graduate school), but the real key graf was this one, recounting how the school actually graduates fewer alumni into journalism jobs than it matriculates out of them:

Journalism schools, of course, balk at being balked at. Last fall Columbia’s placement director boasted to students that 45 percent of the class of 1992 had found jobs or internships in journalism. Perhaps, but to appreciate that figure fully you must know that 50 percent of the class came to the school from full-time jobs in journalism. Another 20 percent had internships. Assuming the numbers provided by Columbia students and faculty are accurate, the journalism school redirected 25 percent of the class of 1992 into other occupations.

Yes, it’s old, but you have to Read The Whole Thing™. Yes, it’s good. It’s brilliant. The segment beginning a few weeks ago (it’s bold in the original) exposes exactly how the CJS students have been taught to begin with:

My null hypothesis! My angle. My bias. My take. My … point … of … view!

Lewis, to his credit, is a little bit shocked.

“My null hypothesis,” I said, “is that the Columbia Journalism School is all bullshit.”

They paused. “That’s a good null hypothesis,” said one, finally.

And that would be as dynamic a closing for his article as it will be for this blog post, but it’s only the set-up for a grander closing, and one that explains why the wise man never talks to “credentialed journalists.” Do Read The Whole Thing™.

And Stay Tuned for Part II.

The Eisenhorror Continues

This mess is the "tapestry" for the Ike Memorial.

This mess is the “tapestry” for the Ike Memorial. And we thought that Chairman Maotin Luther King was bad.

We have covered, long ago, the saga of the abominable Eisenhower Memorial, which even earlier we called, deservedly, emetic. This disaster is the result of a runaway commission of Washington insiders, who chose society architect Frank Gehry sight unseen. Gehry produced an abominable hackery of chain-link-fence “tapestries” and a statue of a child in an empty field.

The Eisenhower family is unsatisfied with this insulting abortion of an art-school undergrad C-minus design, and Congress tried to pull the plug on the failed commisssion and the Gehry eyesore. Gehry, for his part, has taken his fee (paid up front) and rather than produce the construction plans he was paid for, spent the money on a sleazeball lobbyist, figuring that with enough of a lobbying presence he can always hit the taxpayers up for more money (he’s received, and blown, $15 million so far).

From Mona Charen’s syndicated column:

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission was established in 2002 with a budget of $64 million. It is staffed by nine full-time employees, some earning six-figure salaries, and presided over by a 93-year-old, ailing board chairman.

Without a design competition, the commission chose a design by Frank Gehry that critics, including the Eisenhower family, regard as insulting to Eisenhower’s memory. Featuring enormous metal “tapestries” eight stories tall that would depict the Kansas prairie, the block-long memorial park with its enormous metal curtains would dwarf the statuary in the center. The original design called for Ike to be portrayed as a barefoot boy. Thus is a key figure in the history of the 20th century reduced to insignificance. Historians sometimes do that to people — memorials are meant to do the reverse.

The boy Ike has since been replaced, after protests, with a proposed statue of Ike as a cadet. Not much better. West Point has produced many cadets but only one Eisenhower. Gehry now proposes to eliminate the tapestries, but keep the pillars. Commission member Bruce Cole, who believes a simple statue of the man would have been best (and most consistent with Ike’s wishes), says the pillars standing alone “look for all the world like industrial smokestacks.” Others say they evoke an unfinished highway overpass or the final scene of Planet of the Apes.

Since the memorial has been stalled, you may ask, what happened to the money? After 15 years, the commission has spent $41 million, including paying Gehry 95 percent of the price of construction drawings before the design was approved. According to the set Washington Examiner, Gehry used some of the $15 million he received to hire former Clinton counsel Gregory Craig to help secure approval of the design. That’s how it goes when you’re well-connected in Washington.

Republicans in Congress declined the commission’s request for $50 million more. They appropriated just $1 million last year, which still leaves the corrupt commission in business. Is this farce to be the only memorial to one of our greatest leaders?

via Memorial to Waste | National Review Online.

You gotta love Washington. It’s the only place where anybody would kill something off by giving it “just” $1 million a year.

Here’s a better idea:  give it $0 a year, and let Ike’s family hire a sculptor, and do a Kickstarter or Indiegogo fund raiser to pay him. We’d hit that. What’s the problem with doing it that way?

Ah, yes. No scope for grifters, grafters and grabbers of the Gregory Craig variety. If there is no waste, no carrion, there is nothing for him to feed on, and he would have to get a job in the productive economy — something he has never learned how to do.

As for Gehry, let him find people that want to live in leaky, rusty eyesores, or corporations that want to make their employees work in them, on his own. He’ll survive, or not, without a handout from the US Government.

Islamic Jihad Propaganda and other Pulitzer Bait

Islamic JihadJournalists wonder why America hates them, and why they poll lower than telemarketers, pedophiles, ebola or even Congress. If any journalists happen to read WeaponsMan, they’ll find out by the end of this post.

ITEM: The website that absorbed the failed news magazine Newsweek has a new lease on life — as a propaganda outlet for Islamic Jihad. IJ supporter and Beast writer Jesse Rosenfeld has been running repeated stories about a supposed Israeli atrocity in the village of Khuzaa, where six of his IJ comrades seeking martyrdom apparently found it.

In previous stories, Rosenfeld tried to sell the six decomposing men, at least one of whom was dressed in a camouflage uniform, as civilians. And if you read his latest story, he seems to have but a single source, a putative IJ fighter. Making Rosenfeld his bitch steno pool, Abu Muhammad dictates:

However, as the ground invasion neared, according to Abu Muhammad, an intense Israeli campaign that included bombing from F-16s and intense artillery fire killed many fighters. Civilians began fleeing as shelling intensified, but real panic came when Israel moved in its tanks, and the civilian exodus began in earnest.

During this phase of the fighting, the Palestinian resistance in the town hunkered down and waited as the Israeli shelling and aerial bombardment laid waste to one building after another in order to clear a path for tanks and jeeps. From the tunnels, the fighters could hear above them Israeli troops carving out the buffer zone that would eat up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory and leave much of that area reduced to rubble.

“After we had been in the tunnels about a week, with the Israelis firing mortars, they drove in with the tanks,” said Abu Muhammad, who apologized about his uncertain grasp on specific dates. He’d lost track of the days after so much time underground, he said, but he remembered, “There were around 60 tanks.”

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Only when Israel had positioned its forces around Khuzaa did the armed Palestinian groups begin their counterattack, according to Abu Muhammad. “First we targeted the tanks and the jeeps with IEDs,” he said mechanically, as if recalling a combat briefing. In the second stage of their effort to bog down and then repel Israeli forces, the three guerrilla factions launched a multi-pronged hit-and-run campaign from all directions.

“Some of our people would come out of the ground, attack the soldiers and then disappear back into a tunnel,” said the combat veteran.  “Others surprised them from empty houses,” he said.

“The guerrillas found themselves in an all-out firefight at the entrance to the tunnel.”
In one of those brazen attacks, says Abu Muhammad, fighters used a shoulder-fired rocket to hit a house the Israeli army had taken over, killing two of the soldiers with sniper fire as they fled the building. He is unable to give an overall estimate of Israeli or Islamic Jihad casualties in Khuzaa, but says 130 fighters from his group were killed during the war. (Israeli intelligence puts that number at 182.)

When I visited Khuzaa on four occasions during and after the war, there were clear signs of an intense battle in the ruins of the town. Incoming and outgoing machine-gun fire covered homes and apartments near positions taken by Israeli soldiers. Israeli bullet casings littered the floors of the entrances to residences that were transformed into stucco barracks.

via Did Israel Execute Jihadists in Gaza? – The Daily Beast.

Abu Muhammad said there was another guy, and describes what the other guy saw, but IJ didn’t make that guy available to their loyal scribe, so the corroboration for Rosenfeld’s single source is the single source’s alleged hearsay from another source.

It’s all Propaganda

tonguebathThe rest of the Beast is similarly slanted Scheissdreck. We’ll just describe one more ITEM: There’s a story about Chuck Todd’s debut as host of Meet The Press – a slavering tongue bath of Todd’s reproductive tackle to the same extent that Todd’s fawning, servile “interview” of the President was a slavering tongue bath, in turn, of Todd’s President Boyfriend. It’s getting pretty meta in the Washington press corps.

The media wonders, sometimes, why their stock is so low with the public. Jesse Rosenfeld, the Jake Lingle of the Islamic Jihad, is one reason. The Chuck Todd tongue baths — incoming and outgoing — are two more reasons.

bettercallsaulAnd then – ITEM. There’s William Langewiesche, the Vanity Fair writer who in 2007 worked with a plaintiff’s attorney to craft a one-sided, partly fabricated and the remainder slanted, story in that mostly celeb-gossip magazine, to help advance the lawsuit.

“You and I are now firmly on the same side,” he told [the ambulance chaser] in one of his emails. “But actually we were about an hour after I met you.”

Footnote: I emailed Langewiesche, asking if this is the way he approaches all his stories and if there was some explanation of how his conduct constituted fair journalism that I was failing to understand. He didn’t reply.

Gee, that’s special. (Well, not really. That’s typical, that’s what they learn at J-School). Langewiesche has written a defense of his so-called ethics that is mostly heat, not light; it amounts to, “sure I was on the side of the ambulance chasers, because they were right, and the oil company was eeevil.” In his words:

As to my being on Donziger’s side: yes, and openly so, but only to this degree—after weeks of fieldwork, and an even longer time being stonewalled by Chevron, I concluded, quite explicitly in the piece, that the plaintiffs were essentially right…

So here we have a professional journalist, the Miami Herald’s Glenn Garvin, crucifying another pro, Langewiesche, for the sort of underhanded misreporting that’s characteristic of the entire profession. Journalists come to their desks with a Manichean worldview, and every story is a B-western with good guys in white hats and bad guys in black hats. They make the decision early on, select the Narrative they’re going for, and from then on, the facts are cut to size, beaten to fit, and painted to match.

We have discharged our duty to our readers by linking, above, the takedown and the reponse. Personally, we’re amused by the outraged bleat that how dare a fellow ink-stained wretch treat a member of the Guild like the Guild treats the Muggles.

This is no less than Carnegie’s maxim about talent in generations, playing out on the public stage. Langewiesche’s father wrote a book on airmanship, published 70 years ago, that’s still cherished by new generations of pilots — at least, by those who aspire to mastery of the craft. The son inherited the skill with words, but that’s the extent of it.

Rather like a gun, verbal facility can be used for good or for ill. Q.E.D.

And then, again, ITEM: there’s the Guardian’s Damian Walter, who wanted his readers to loathe a book editor and publisher, one Toni Weisskopf, as much as he loathes her himself. Since she hasn’t done anything loathsome, he just made up a bunch of quotes and stuff. Novelist Larry Correia (author of the great HK: Because You Suck. And We Hate You meme) finally wrung an admission to the fabrication out of Walter, who is not very bright and perseverates like an autistic kid. (We just gave you the tl;dr version because we don’t have Larry’s patience for putting up with this scrote).

Perhaps Damian is striking for a job at Vanity Fair.

Bottom line: we can’t imagine why people don’t trust the media. Can you?