Journalist Attacked For Being Anti-Women For Story Questioning Training of First Female Rangers

army-rangers-1024It would seem a straightforward journalistic piece when Susan Keating at PEOPLE Magazine decided to inform readers that Congressman Steve Russell, R-Okla., and others were questioning the qualifications and training of the first women to pass the Army Ranger school. Russell has asked the secretary of the Army for documentation pertaining to the passage of 1st Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest after he said various sources complained that (in direct contradiction of official Army statements) the women were given help in passing the rigorous tests. Keating, however, has been attacked as “anti-woman” for writing the story in a strong backlash as the Army denies all of the allegations.


I admit that I am sensitive to people acting out against journalists for their reporting on stories. Reporters are often placed in a position of reporting on stories that the public or people in power may not like. However, they play a critical role in keeping our government accountable. That is not to say that the allegations are true but they have been made by sources viewed as credible enough by members of Congress to demand that data be turned over to Congress. The story also ran in the midst of a growing controversy over the use of women in elite combat units with a move to add women to programs like the Navy Seals.

In his letter (published exclusively by PEOPLE), Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla. asked to see the women’s test scores, evaluations, injuries, pre-training and other records. He revealed that multiple “sources at Fort Benning are coming forward to say the Army lied about women in Ranger School, that the women got special treatment and played by different rules.” These include Ranger instructors who were allegedly warned to stay quiet about the special treatment to guarantee the passage of the women. The school lasts 21 days and includes long hikes, an obstacle course, and other physical challenges. Russell says that instructors have come forward to say that the women did not carry the same amount of equipment as the men, did not take their turn carrying the heavy machine guns and were given intensive pre-training that was not offered to men. Moreover, they alleged that men who repeatedly failed crucial phases of the school were sent home but the women were allowed to redo those phases over and over until they passed.

Emails started to fly almost immediately from women accusing Keating of being a traitor. One named Melody H. Mitchell thanked Brig. Gen. Malcolm B. Frost, chief of Public Affairs for the U.S. Army for denying the allegation, saying “Pathetic when women work against others.” Keating did not back down and asked Mitchell ” You support a male general who discredits a female journo. And you accuse ME of being anti woman?”

Other critics include Sue Fulton, who was a member of the first West Point class in 1980 to include women graduates. She said that this is the same type of “questioning of our every accomplishment at every turn, from Gen. (William) Westmoreland calling us ‘freaks’ to anonymous soldiers online spreading rumors.”

xllypyy0llfzrmvudxpc_400x400I am afraid that I do not get this controversy. Keating (right) is reporting a major story. The premise of female Rangers is that they would be treated exactly like other Rangers with no alterations or lessening of the standards. This is based on the simple fact that Rangers are required to perform on an extraordinary level in combat and must be physically capable of reaching the same level of conditioning and proficiency. I truly hope that the story is false and that Fulton is right about the cultural backlash. However, it is a legitimate story when a congressional committee starts to investigate and reports multiple sources from within the program. Keating to her credit is standing her ground as a journalist doing her job and even tweated “To anyone who thinks the Army never lies: Here’s a cup of Agent Orange to drink while reading about Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman.”

The fact that Keating is a woman is immaterial. She is a journalist and she is reporting on an allegation that the Army has misrepresented a story that was reported throughout the world. She is not supposed to, as Melody Mitchell suggests, “support women.” She is supposed to support the truth, no matter how unpopular it may be. Even if the investigation is shown to be unfounded, the story was not.

59 thoughts on “Journalist Attacked For Being Anti-Women For Story Questioning Training of First Female Rangers”

  1. Journalist Attacked For Being Anti-Women For Story Questioning Training of First Female Rangers

    This sticky wicket reeks of political correctness run amok.

  2. ModernMiner

    Does Vonnegut comingle definitions because I get confused? For example, Obama assumed office even though he is not eligible because he only had one parent who was a citizen and the candidate must have two per the 1789 letter of George Washington and John Jay, and Obama wrote the ACA which said its “exchanges” had to be state, not federal, then the SCOTUS said that “state” and “federal” were fungible, as Merriam-Webster says they aren’t.

    Were they similarly on the 279th of the Ten Commandments?

  3. “THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.”

    — Kurt Vonnegut, “Harrison Bergeron”

    Should be required reading for everybody. As prophetic as 1984.

  4. For over 4 years I’ve been reading Keating’s website. She seems to be extraordinarily well connected into the military. Her reportage is balanced. From where I sit, Keating is a credible journalist.

  5. Lorac and Randyjet,

    The Preamble, Constitution and Bill of Rights provide freedom. Americans are required to adapt to and live with the consequences of that freedom under a thesis of freedom and self-reliance.

    The Founders said, “All men are created equal.” After that, they’re on their own. The government was never designed or mandated to assure success in any aspect of the lives of individuals. Affirmative action and being labeled a beneficiary of government assistance is a personal problem that you have to deal with on your own – it is not a state problem. It really is too bad you both know you could never make it on your own, through the application of your own merits. Next thing you’ll say is that the government must make you Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson. Ain’t gonna happen. Deal with it.

    You believe yourselves correct implementing the communist principle of Social Engineering and nullifying the right of Americans to freedom of speech (i.e. thought), press, assembly, religion and the right or private property. Your desires that the state protect you from the thoughts of others and their freedoms, of which the first step is discrimination (friends, employees, spouses. colleagues, neighbors), require that those rights be denied. Hollywood and airlines decimate on appearance constantly. Record labels and radio stations discriminate on beautiful voices. Where does it end?

    That is clearly unconstitutional. It is unconstitutional to control, by law, the thought and perceptions of others and it is unconstitutional to possess or dispose of the private property of others, such as businesses and property (i.e. affirmative action hiring and matriculation and “Fair Housing” which is unfair to private property owners).

    What will you do if ever American seats a rational and objective Supreme Court that simply reads the words of the founders and allows the Preamble, Constitution and Bill of Rights to prevail?

  6. I’ve heard this for years, too, from military friends and family that the military lowers the bar for women. I’ve hoped it had gotten resolved. Equal opportunity does not equate to special treatment.

    Journalists are supposed to investigate stories. Maybe the allegations are true, and maybe they are false, but her job is to raise and discuss these questions. I despise these attacks on journalists.

    I considered joining the marines when I finished college. I was really fit at the time, and could do so many pull ups, the recruiter wanted me badly. I definitely got more attention than the boys, because they wanted more women and were pursuing a quota. But I got diagnosed with asthma and that was that. I know one other woman who joined the marines, and she was not unusually physically fit.

    I have a female relative who served in the navy, and of course a great many of my family have served the military for generations. There are indeed military jobs that women can do and should be allowed to do. But they should never lower the bar for women. I knew an army ranger who said they had a female MP who was worthless in a crisis. Any type of violence and she would just stand there, wringing her hands, while her partner fended for himself. She filled a quota and that was it.

    If they are careful not to lower the bar, then becoming an army ranger, seal, or special forces is an incredible accomplishment a woman can be proud of.

  7. Firefly … good comment. “Secret sources” bother me too. Often they mean well, but are offering an opinion, not a set of facts. I’d agree most women could not measure up physically to fit men, but there are some who do. Until we have concrete source information, with at least scant evidence, we just cannot know for sure. I see a “source” with a name and direct connection to the Ranger program, I’ll listen…rumors and innuendo not so much. As I commented recently I’ve known many male officers with ranger tabs that for the life of me I cannot figure out how they managed it given their rather dumpy shape and demeanor when I met them. I presume they got some “exceptions” due to their branches of service, which is no less disconcerting. Very few of them could hump a 100 lb pack a hundred yards. So I wondered, what gives?

  8. I won’t pretend to know what the facts are in this situation, but I would like to make a few comments here.

    1.) Not ALL women are weaker than ALL men. Some women are even stronger than some men. Having said that, though, it is clear that the Ranger program requires people of superior strength, and I think most women would not be stronger than the strongest men.

    2.) The “fact” that Members of Congress have secret sources that tell them things does not impress me; we don’t know if those sources are correct or unbiased or lacking a personal agenda. We must take such anonymous sources with a grain of salt. I recall, vividly, that Judith Miller was the “star” reporter at The New York Times during the lead-up to our invasion of Iraq; her access to “great” sources guaranteed her a crown and a place on The Times’ front page. Then, it turned out her so-called sources were unreliable, had an agenda of their own and lied regularly. My point here is that sources can be and often are a way to get at the truth, but they can also be nothing of the kind.

    I’ll wait until we have more information — full and accurate information — before I get all riled up about this issue.

  9. ” She is not supposed to, as Melody Mitchell suggests, “support women.”” Supporting a lie about a woman isn’t supporting that woman, or women. Liberty Valence was based on a lie. As long as the women that went through the training took the exact same training as the men, including the same exercises and rest periods and carrying the same weight, then oorah! for them. Any treatment less than the men should have resulted in failure, and any treatment more should require substantial review about the careers of the people involved. The real work does not care about affirmative action. In general, there will be a much smaller percentage of women who can pass this course because of its physical demands. That does not mean that any woman that shows a reasonable possibility of passing should not be allowed to try. Some *will* pass. Marie Curie was a curiosity not because she was the intellectual equal and possibly superior to her husband, but that she was allowed to try. Let’s not hold anyone back because of false assumptions or even true ones based on statistics.

  10. lorac, That is the inherent problem w/ affirmative action, someone not needing the advantage but everyone assuming they received it. However, this post is different. No one is doubting the intellectual ability of these women, as far as I can tell. The physicality of being an Army Ranger is brutal. Only ideologues believe women are the physical equal of men. Science refutes men and women being equal physically. Look @ Army Rangers as being the NFL. Does anyone think there is a woman prepared to play linebacker in the NFL. Now, if a woman ever does make it in the NFL they could be a punter or placekicker. Maybe.

  11. By the time the “truth” is discovered, the damage to the women Rangers is done. I saw that first-hand as a member of the first class of women at Caltech. Many, many men said that we were admitted under softer standards. It wasn’t true, but it was said often enough that it became “fact”. Our perceived inferiority followed us all four years.

    1. lorac, I understand your point, but there are other times and places where it IS true. I gave instances that I know of personally. I only support affirmative action as long as it meets the criterion I specified in my previous post since there was rampant discrimination against women and minorities for decades.

  12. Draft all women into the military and give them precisely the same assignments as men.

    Put women to work earning a living 60 hrs. a week.

    End procreation and nurturing.

    Has anyone checked the birthrate lately?

    Americans will be gone soon –

    Extinct.

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