Sunday, July 16, 2006
During a 1989 PBS forum, news anchors Mike Wallace and Peter Jennings were presented with a hypothetical scenario: if they were in a position to warn US troops of a “North Kosanese” attack, would they do so? Or would they instead simply cover the attack as a news story?
At first Jennings responded: “If I was with a North Kosanese unit that came upon Americans, I think I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans.”
Wallace countered that other reporters, including himself, “would regard it simply as another story that they are there to cover.” Jennings’ position bewildered Wallace: “I’m a little bit of a loss to understand why, because you are an American, you would not have covered that story.”
“Don’t you have a higher duty as an American citizen to do all you can to save the lives of soldiers rather than this journalistic ethic of reporting fact?” [host Charles] Ogletree asked. Without hesitating Wallace responded: “No, you don’t have higher duty… you’re a reporter.” This convinces Jennings, who concedes, “I think he’s right too, I chickened out.”
Ogletree turns to Brent Scrowcroft, now the National Security Adviser, who argues “you’re Americans first, and you’re journalists second.” Wallace is mystified by the concept, wondering “what in the world is wrong with photographing this attack by North Kosanese on American soldiers?”
Read on at the above link for Marine Corps Colonel George Connell’s dissenting view. So much for any hypothetical deal; we now have, thanks to the New York Times, an actual example of US media behaving exactly as Wallace and Jennings believe they should. LGF reports:
New York Times photographer Joao Silva was right there in the room as a member of Muqtada al-Sadr’s “Mahdi Army” tried to kill American troops.
This impressed NYT Assistant Managing Editor for Photography Michele McNally:
Right there with the Mahdi army. Incredible courage.
UPDATE. Journalist rescued:
U.S. soldiers freed a kidnapped Voice of America journalist and captured four suspected terrorists in two separate operations in Baghdad July 14, officials in Iraq reported.