Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Bloglines - Broken News

Bloglines user Lawboat ( has sent this item to you.

Froggy Ruminations
The views expressed on this website are my own and DO NOT convey the endorsement of the Naval Special Warfare Command, its tenant commands, or the US Navy

Broken News

By Matthew Heidt

Like you, I have seen all of the media reports and even CENTCOM press releases regarding the remaining SEAL evaders of Operation Red Wing. I have purposely decided that this site is not going to report any further news updates on the fate of those operators until the status of ALL THREE of them is known for certain. I cannot tell you how frustrated I am as I watch the irresponsible reporting by the wire services, newspapers, TV outlets, and even other blogs.

Look, I understand wanting to break a story first and the rush of being a “go to” source for an important story. A perfect example would be the retirement of SCOTUS Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Media outlets and blogs are competing with greater and greater speculation about who is going to be nominated to replace her, postulations regarding the chances of Democratic filibuster, or just finding out what kind of absurd regurgitations are going to vomit forth from Ted Kennedy’s pie hole. I get that. There’s no harm in bandying about wild theories, and using dubious sources because eventually we’re all going to have the answers to those questions. Besides, its political sport, which is after all a very American past time.

But the unconfirmed, poorly sourced, and often flatly wrong information coming out about the CSAR operation underway in Afghanistan is not only irresponsible, it could prove lethal. Speculating about the location of a wounded US evader in the field while recovery operations are ongoing is an outrageous violation of basic ethics. Can a civil society not recognize that the potential hazards of reporting these claims far outweigh any value that could be gained from being first on the story? There is no doubt that upon hearing the claim by an Afghan provincial governor(?) that he knew the location of an evading US serviceman, the reporter’s next call was to the US military spokesman for reaction. And I am just as certain that any US military spokesman would beg and plead for that reporter to sit on that information, be it true or false. How long did it take you to figure out that information of that kind could have a devastating impact on the rescue efforts underway?

It is cliché to say that the media and its 24 hour news cycle reach new lows on a regular basis. It is annoying to see the Michael Jackson/Scott Peterson/Koranic flushathon every time you turn on the TV. But they have been playing with a man’s life this weekend. It becomes something north of annoying when that man is one of your own brothers in arms struggling against all odds to evade and survive. It is infuriating. Let’s hope the media’s big competition doesn’t get someone killed. I’m not letting them off the hook either way.

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