The Images We Focus On

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.


  1. Is that soldier missing his wrist and hand? Or is that a bad photoshop job?

  2. We’ve all heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Well there’s no accounting for those thousand words and whether they’re accurate (usually they’re not) Think about it. How often do you see a positive type photo in a newspaper? Probably as often as you read a positive type news story. In other words, not that often.

  3. “We become that which we focus on. In a world with shorter and shorter attention spans reality is increasingly captured in a headline and an image. We are assaulted with a massive dumbing down of foreign policy, of manhood, of nuanced truth.”

    Tom, I couldn’t agree more. I just wish that GMP hadn’t posted either picture in the box above the article. I’ve been doing my best to avoid such pictures. I have purposely avoided clinking on any links that would show me the snapshots. But with GMP, it’s a little more difficult since this was in the homepage image. There are certain images I don’t want in my head. And while the image above is only a small snapshot, it’s still graphic. Would have rather seen an American flag or something else instead to go along with the message of the thread instead of supporting more of the sensationlism.

    BUT I totally agree with this piece and it’s message.

  4. wellokaythen says:

    These two photographs are nowhere near equivalent to each other in terms of impact or importance or scandal, not to my mind. They do not belong in the same article except as two very different examples of journalistic decisions.

    Agents who represent the American people paying (or not quite paying) for prostitutes is NOT comparable agents of the American people killing people and posing with the bodies. The picture of the woman is indistinguishable from images from a dozen magazines at the supermarket checkout right now.

    God, I hope we are not so warped that a photo of a woman in a bikini is as outrageous as soldiers posing with corpses. Please tell me we haven’t gone that far in hating sex and loving violence.

  5. PursuitAce says:

    Just for the purposes of accuracy, it doesn’t take 16 hours a day to prepare security for a location even if it’s out of the country. You do have some down time. Secret Service agents have told me they work 70-80 hours a week plus travel time which obviously doesn’t equate to 16 hours a day. FBI agents as a comparison work a minimum of 50. When I was full-time military in the ANG I worked about 60 hours a week. On the other hand it’s not uncommon for members of Congress to work 16-20 hour days, seven days a week. That’s what I’ve read several times and a House member confirmed that with me some years ago (One of the reasons some of them want to sleep in their offices). I assume their staff works similar hours. Maybe Congressional members expect everyone to work 16-20 hours a day. I can work no more than 16 hours a day for any significant period of time so I guess I’m coming up short.
    Anyway, it’s interesting to read stories about situations of which you have a good understanding. The media usually gets things wrong (I’ll be kind here) and the response by people in authority is usually politically driven. I don’t know about Secret Service personnel, because we never had the “how many hookers have you banged” conversation, but certain military personnel see prostitutes all of the time when they’re deployed . Anyone whose married and does this typically doesn’t brag about it, but it’s normally known whose participating. The military doesn’t like it, but for right or wrong they treat it as a necessary evil. I guess they figure it’s kind of hard to keep a 20 something soldier, marine, airman, etc. from having sex for up to a year. In the “sand box” otherwise know as the Middle East, the Air Force has a lot more control over it’s people since everyone is confined to base. They have a zero sex policy even for married couples. As you can imagine the compliance rate isn’t 100%.
    The Secret Service policy in all of this is probably, “don’t ever embarrass us” of which they of course broke big-time. So heads are rolling. I think Sullivan, the boss will not be far behind.

  6. The part I find interesting is that the Department of Defense expects the public to believe their desire to control the images coming out of a war zone has anything to do with troop security. We’re there…we’re at war. Security is a standing order for every soldier with boots on the ground in a war.

    No, it’s a lame attempt to control public opinion which keeps up at night admirals and generals in the pentagon who answer to the members of congress who steer lucrative deals to defense contractors. The last thing they need is all these middle age patriots and chicken hawks getting a face full of reality over their apple pie.

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