Good Men Project Magazine contributor Preston Moore weighs in on this post (where you can see the PBS clip at issue) about PBS war coverage, which was a response to this post at the National Review Online. Preston asks, “Which video is really exploiting the military and their families?”
Pia de Solenni faults the embedded journalists who risked their lives to report this slice of combat reality for so many things.
First, for not composing a feature on what soldiers think of the war. You see, they omitted to ask the soldiers who got an arm blown off or a scalp creased by a bullet or otherwise narrowly escaped death whether they had had any “positive interactions” with Afghans. Such omissions damn their story, she says, as being based on “selective facts.”
But Pia has no idea what kinds of selections they made from what kinds of factual matrices, because she didn’t inquire. Instead she just took potshots from the comfortable distance between Seattle and the place where these journalists were earning their paychecks. Instead of asking them or their editors to speak, she tells us what they “would” argue.
Pia is a huge fan of “soldiers’ voices”—the title of her National Review Online column accusing the journalists of espionage, treason, or at the very least, being “un-American.” But she’s itching to silence the voice (and smash the camera) of any journalist who causes “any additional worry” to the families of soldiers. “No worries” is a helluva standard for covering a war.
And were these journalists guilty of causing any such worry anyway? This question brings us to the piece of factual selectivity in this matter that really does deserve censure. Reading Pia’s column, you would think the video was a live feed from the battlefield, or something awfully close to it. You would think that there was a clear and present danger of families seeing grievous risk and injury to their loved ones in real time, without knowing how they fared. But Pia de Solenni’s column deliberately omitted to mention when the events reported in the September 17 video actually occurred. It’s right there in the narrator’s voice—“late August.”
In this day of instant telecommunictions, do our armed forces not have a procedure for notifying a soldier’s family of combat injuries in something less than 17 days or more? If they don’t, is that the journalists’ fault?
Pia’s column didn’t include a link to the PBS video, which would have made her factual selectivity painfully obvious. It also would have fatally impeached her insinuation that the journalists were practicing “if it bleeds, it leads” ethics. The video doesn’t show any blood, wounds, charred flesh, or other gore. Blood certainly was spilled in the events reported, and if the journalists had been guilty of the motivation she charges them with, it would have been easy enough for them to get it on film. They avoided the cheap shots. Too bad Pia didn’t have that kind of class.
But as Henry urges, watch the video and see for yourself. And then watch the National Guard recruiting video, which has been running in theaters just before the feature film for about a year now. You may not have seen it, if feature films in which lots of things get blown up are not your thing—films that attract the very young, mostly male, and easily seduced demographic at which the recruitment video is aimed
The visual images weave combat scenes together with civilian disaster rescue missions—a good strategy for claiming some moral high ground; but the emotional heart of the piece is overwhelmingly martial. The audio is Wagnerian, with a huge choral back-up to supply the feeling of crusading fervor. The lyrics, which appear at the end of this post, are liberally laced with Latin phrasings—nothing like some impenetrable incantations to provide the mystical aura.
No more blood here than in the PBS video. No scenes of horribly maimed and mentally shattered vets languishing in second-rate Veterans hospitals. Nothing that would harsh on the mellow of the moviegoers.
So watch both videos and then ask yourself, who’s really exploiting the soldiers and their families?
I hope like hell some teeny-somethings and twenty-somethings thinking about soldiering were watching PBS on September 17.
“National Guard—Call of the Warrior,”
of the National Guard Bureau.
Warrior the Ethos
Code of the Bellator (Warrior)
A hero will rise
Mos bellatoris (Code of the Warrior)
Ego primus omnium munus (I will always place the mission first)
Ego numquam cladem accipiam (I will never accept defeat)
I will live by this credo
I will protect the U.S. and I will fight to liberate all!
Numquam Deseram (Never quit)
Numquam commilitionem collapsum relinquam
(Never leave a fallen comrade)
I will never leave him!
I will live by this credo
I will protect the U.S. and I will fight to liberate
I will fight wherever called!
I will always place the mission first
I will never ever accept defeat
I will never quit, I never will
I will never leave a fallen comrade
Fiducia Officium (Loyalty, Duty)
Virtus Honor Veneratio (Personal Courage, Honor, Respect)
I am an American Soldier
Stipendium ante ingenium (Service before Self)
I fight for one and all!