The respected newspaper Stars and Stripes has raised the alarm of censorship against the military. Stripes receives federal funding for the coverage of the military, but has long earned the respect of journalists for its independent reporting. An editorial raises a very disturbing incident involving the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division.
Federal law protects the editorial independence of Stripes. Yet, the First Cavalry reportedly refused to embed journalist Heath Druzin because the high brass did not like Druzin’s earlier reporting. The reason giving for the rejection is clear content-based retaliation against both Stripes and Druzin. The Army specifically noted that it did not like how Druzin reported that Mosul residents wanted Americans to leave. Major Ramona Bellard, a public affairs officer, wrote that “[d]espite the opportunity to visit areas of the city where Iraqi Army leaders, soldiers, national police and Iraqi police displayed commitment to partnership, Mr. Druzin refused to highlight any of this news.” That pretty much defines content-based manipulation and censorship of the media.
The Army appears to either not care or be clueless about such abuse. Lt. Col. David H. Patterson Jr. stated “U.S. Army units in Iraq remain committed to the media embed program and appreciate objective media reporting. The relationship that Druzin established with the command during a previous embed did not facilitate being invited back.” It appears that “objective” in the new military speak means reporting that it agrees with.
During the Bush Administration, the military engaged in acts that came close to propaganda and maintained false stories as in the case of Pat Tillman and the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch.
The fact that the Obama Administration would tolerate such an attack on journalistic ethics is particularly distressing and should be the subject of an immediate congressional inquiry.
For the coverage by Stripes, click here.
For the full story, click here.