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
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.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.
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.
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 saysLest anyone doubt you reported his speech as anything other than a Bush-basher, here are the N&O's first two paragraphs:
A year after his retirement, Ricardo Sanchez, who led U.S. forces during the Abu Ghraib scandal, levels a broad, biting attack
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."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?
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.
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.
John in Carolina
Cc. Ted Vaden