Friday, October 19, 2007

To N&O: Retract Sanchez Story

I’ve just sent the following electronic letter to Melanie Sill, executive editor for news at the liberal/leftist Raleigh News & Observer with a copy to the paper’s public editor, Ted Vaden.

Melanie Sill, executive editor for news
Raleigh News & Observer

Dear Melanie:

In his Oct. 12 luncheon address to military journalists and their editors, Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez devoted about half his speech to exposing and castigating journalists and news organizations for their partisan biases and false reporting of the Iraq War.

Among other things General Sanchez, a former commander of our troops in Iraq, said was this (full speech text in capitals):

THE DEATH KNELL OF YOUR ETHICS HAS BEEN ENABLED BY YOUR PARENT ORGANIZATIONS WHO HAVE CHOSEN TO ALIGN THEMSELVES WITH POLITICAL AGENDAS.

WHAT IS CLEAR TO ME IS THAT YOU ARE PERPETUATING THE CORROSIVE PARTISAN POLITICS THAT IS DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY AND KILLING OUR SERVICEMEMBERS WHO ARE AT WAR.
It’s vitally important for Americans to know Sanchez believes that so strongly that he’d go before journalists and say it directly to them on the record, I’m sure expecting news organizations would be forced to report what he said.

But most news organizations, including the N&O, told Americans nothing about Sanchez’s statements concerning how pervasive partisan politics is in news reporting from Iraq, even to the point that it’s helping kill our troops.

Instead of giving readers a truthful report of Sanchez’s speech, you made no mention of his press criticism in your front-page, above the fold Oct. 13 story headlined:
Iraq a 'nightmare,' general says

A year after his retirement, Ricardo Sanchez, who led U.S. forces during the Abu Ghraib scandal, levels a broad, biting attack
Lest anyone doubt you reported his speech as anything other than a Bush-basher, here are the N&O's first two paragraphs:
In a sweeping indictment of the four-year effort in Iraq, the former top commander of American forces there called the Bush administration's handling of the war "incompetent" and said the result is "a nightmare with no end in sight."

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who retired in 2006 after being replaced in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, blamed the Bush administration for a "catastrophically flawed, unrealistically optimistic war plan" and denounced the current addition of American forces as a "desperate" move that would not achieve long-term stability.
If the Bush administration had been charged with reporting the Sanchez speech to the public, and in a White House press release it had left out all criticism of the administration and included only those parts castigating the press and Congress, what would people have said?

That the administration was being dishonest. And they’d be right.

Then is the Raleigh News & Observer being anything other than dishonest when fails to mention Sanchez’s castigation of the press and instead “reports” a Bush-basher?

If the people who worked the Sanchez story for the N&O meant to report it honestly, can we agree they failed?

If the N&O is serious about being an honest newspaper, shouldn’t readers expect the N&O to retract and correct its Oct. 13 story?

If you care to take a look, I posted previously on your Sanchez "reporting" here.

Sincerely,

John in Carolina

Cc. Ted Vaden

5 comments:

mike said...

John,

Thanks for the "bouquet" in the editors blog

Anonymous said...

Who was it who said "never argue with a man who buys his ink by the barrel?" Melanie will NEVER 'fess up to cooking the news because she probably sincerely believes she's in the right and you're just a pest. Every point you make in critiquing the press is spot on, but only those outside the press can accept it. I think it may be a form of narcissism.

Anonymous said...

Wanna bet the N&O soft-pedals the "Pete" Stark report? N&O readers will wonder what the fuss is about.

Anonymous said...

John: Are you going to comment on the disgusting comments made on the House floor by Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-CA)? The MSM are not giving it any play at all--as usual.

scott said...

Given the results of the recent "surge" strategy (decrease in murders; decrease in violence overall), I think it is a bit premature for Sanchez to make a statement that this strategy is "a desperate move that would not achieve long-term stability." The jury is still out on that, but there is clear evidence that the situation has improved recently offering some hope that long-term stability can be achieved.

Just within the last few days, Dennis Gibson of ABC News reported that there is no news from Iraq today because there were no reports of anything being exploded or anyone getting killed. Hey, Dennis, guess what? Given the last 4 years in that part of the world, that's news!

We know for sure, however, that the mainstream press can be counted on to present the news that fits their agenda, whether that is to portray a drugged-out prostitute, with a prior history of fabricating rape claims and other violations of the law, as a mother and student who was a victim of a brutal rape by white athletes or to focus on anti-Bush remarks and omit the criticism of the press that was included in the very same speech delivered by Sanchez or to call news that something good happened in Iraq (no deaths) "not news." Anyone who thinks they are getting anything newsworthy from the mainstream print and broadcast media, I can hook you up with someone who has prime real estate in the Everglades for sale cheap.

As to Stark, I used to live in Fremont CA, which is in the East Bay about 15 miles south of Oakland, so Fortney was my congressman for 4 years. He has always been a loose cannon. This was just the latest incident and by no means the worst. You never know what you're going to get when you elect someone to Congress for the first time. That the majority of people in Fremont have sent this idiot back for over 30 years is just one of many reasons why I'm glad to be able to say I'm "from California" (if you're "from ________", it means you're not there anymore!).