What Fresh Hell Is This?

June 24, 2007

Murtha Coverage in the P-G

I met Jerome Sherman in early January. He seemed like a nice enough guy, so I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt in his article today of Congressman Jack Murtha.

But whoever writes the headlines, that person I got a serious problem with.

First, the headline:

John Murtha: How a lifelong hawk became a dove, too

Veteran Congressman still champions military even though he opposes Iraq war

Notice something? Yea I am sure you do - the parallel phrase structure of the two headlines.

"hawk" is (nearly) set in opposition to "dove"
and then
"champions military" is set in opposition to "opposes Iraq war"

I say "nearly" for the first line because it does say he's a hawk AND a dove.

It's the second line that's most egregious. The implication is that someone who opposes the war can't possibly "champion" the military. This isn't 2003, folks. According to a recent (5/29-6/1/07) poll done by ABC News/Washington Post, only 37% of the American people thought that the Iraq war was "worth fighting." 61% said it was "not worth fighting." If we stretch the logic of the P-G headline writers to that poll, a majority of the American people don't "champion the military" because they oppose the war.

It's absurd at its face. And yet it's there in black and white on the pages of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

But since it's my understanding that article writers do NOT write the headlines, this one can't be pinned on Jerome Sherman.

The rest of the article, however, can be. The piece is, roughly speaking, a biography. But it seems to be written to position Murtha as a flip-flopper on the one hand, while also undermining his credibility with a smear on 'tother. Look at how Murtha's past is set up in opposition to his current views on the Iraq war. Paragraph six and seven:

"I thought it was important that we stood up to communism," he said recently. "And if the Congress and the president said it was the right war, I thought it was the right war."

Today, 40 years later, Mr. Murtha, the senior congressman from Pennsylvania, doesn't express similar confidence about President Bush's military decisions. He has become one of Congress' loudest and most prominent critics of the war in Iraq, calling for a rapid redeployment of more than 150,000 U.S. troops.

If it was good enough for LBJ, why wasn't it good enough for GWB?

Then comes the criticism of the Congressman, first he's called a coward ("He's lost his nerve.") by a fellow Marine who served in Vietnam, though Sherman never says he served with Murtha in Vietnam - something to remember. So after the Jean Schmidt smear resurfaces, Sherman trots out another swiftboat smear.

It's from the Cybercast News Service. Why would a real news source (the P-G) even bother with a fake news source like CNSNews? Sherman writes:
The Cybercast News Service, an online news organization, last year ran a report questioning whether Mr. Murtha deserved two Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam, even though Marine records confirm that he was wounded.
Especially since Sherman's own paper published this in May, 2002:
Choby [who was running against Murtha at the time] criticized Murtha, the first Vietnam combat veteran elected to Congress, for not turning over medical records proving he's entitled to his two Purple Hearts. Murtha spokesman Brad Clemenson insisted his boss deserved the medals.

Marine Corps casualty records show that Murtha was injured in "hostile" actions near Danang, Vietnam, on March 22, 1967 and May 7, 1967. In the first incident, his right cheek was lacerated, and in the second he was lacerated above his left eye. Neither injury required evacuation.
No mention of CNS being owned by the right-wing Media Research Center, is there? No mention that CNS was originally called the "Conservative News Service" is there? No critical review of the source of the smear, is there? Nope, it's just there.

We have to wait more than 40 paragraphs to read:

The Johnstown Marine was wounded twice during his tour of duty, both times in helicopters. On one occasion, he was in an H-34 "Seahorse" that made a hard landing to avoid enemy fire, throwing passengers from their seats. Another attack came in mid-air. A bullet pierced the helicopter and sprayed him with shrapnel.

He was eventually awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with Combat "V," and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Even before he came out against the Iraq war, Mr. Murtha faced questions about his medals from political opponents. The 2006 Cybercast News Service report interviewed some of those old rivals, citing discrepancies in how Mr. Murtha has described his wounds.

According to documents in the Marine Corps' public archives in Quantico, Va., Mr. Murtha received "lacerations" on his cheek and near his eye. He says he also hurt his knee and scratched his arm.

It takes that long to see that the CNSNews criticisms were from Murtha's political rivals. Hardly an objective source.

It's also interesting who Sherman gives the last word to. Get a gander:

"A war initiated on faulty intelligence must not be followed by a premature withdrawal of our troops based on a political timetable," he wrote in an epilogue to his book.

Now, Mr. Murtha rejects that idea, and he hopes to use his power of the purse as chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to force the Bush administration to change course.

"I made a mistake. I admitted I made a mistake," he said. "I couldn't get anywhere just by talking to [the Bush administration.] I had to say something publicly, and I think it's made the difference."

Many anti-war advocates credit Mr. Murtha's switch as a turning point in the debate about the war, citing his credibility as a conservative lawmaker with a good track record on defense issues.

Mr. Stokes [who had served with the 1st Marine Regiment in Vietnam], 75, doesn't see it that way: "If I saw Jack, I'd tell him what I really thought about him. But I don't need to see it in the newspaper."

This is balance?

1 comment:

Richmond K. Turner said...

Not really "in the P-G", since they lifted it wholesale from the New York Times. There have been some mornings where 4 out of 5 front page P-G articles come from the Times.