A sniper loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al Sadr fires towards U.S. positions in the cemetery in Najaf, Iraq.
[Times assistant managing editor for photography] Michele McNally: “Right there with the Mahdi army. Incredible courage.”
I am reminded of what Bill Keller said:
I guess I would say if you’re under the impression that the press is neutral in this war on terror, or that we’re agnostic — and you could get that impression from some of the criticism — that couldn’t be more wrong.
As I said to the guys on Pundit Review Radio: you notice he didn’t say which side he’s on.
By the way, this attitude — that it’s perfectly fine for a journalist to sit by and watch the enemy fire on our troops — is nothing new. Armed Liberal has written many times about the panel with Mike Wallace and Peter Jennings, in which Wallace (and later Jennings) agreed with the sick proposition that journalists should “roll tape” when the enemy is ambushing American troops:
Then Ogletree turned to the two most famous members of the evening’s panel, better known than William Westmoreland himself. These were two star TV journalists: Peter Jennings of World News Tonight and ABC, and Mike Wallace of 6o Minutes and CBS. Ogletree brought them into the same hypothetical war. He asked Jennings to imagine that he worked for a network that had been in contact with the enemy North Kosanese government. After much pleading, the North Kosanese had agreed to let Jennings and his news crew into their country, to film behind the lines and even travel with military units. Would Jennings be willing to go? Of course, Jennings replied. Any reporter would-and in real wars reporters from his network often had. But while Jennings and his crew are traveling with a North Kosanese unit, to visit the site of an alleged atrocity by American and South Kosanese troops, they unexpectedly cross the trail of a small group of American and South Kosanese soldiers. With Jennings in their midst, the northern soldiers set up a perfect ambush, which will let them gun down the Americans and Southerners, every one. What does Jennings do? Ogletree asks. Would he tell his cameramen to “Roll tape!” as the North Kosanese opened fire? What would go through his mind as he watched the North Kosanese prepare to ambush the Americans? Jennings sat silent for about fifteen seconds after Ogletree asked this question. “Well, I guess I wouldn’t,” he finally said. “I am going to tell you now what I am feeling, rather than the hypothesis I drew for myself. If I were with a North Kosanese unit that came upon Americans, I think that I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans.” Even if it means losing the story? Ogletree asked.
Even though it would almost certainly mean losing my life, Jennings replied. “But I do not think that I could bring myself to participate in that act. That’s purely personal, and other reporters might have a different reaction.” Immediately Mike Wallace spoke up. “I think some other reporters would have a different reaction,” he said, obviously referring to himself. “They would regard it simply as a story they were there to cover.” “I am astonished, really,” at Jennings’s answer, Wallace said a moment later. He turned toward Jennings and began to lecture him: “You’re a reporter. Granted you’re an American”-at least for purposes of the fictional example; Jennings has actually retained Canadian citizenship. “I’m a little bit at a loss to understand why, because you’re an American, you would not have covered that story.” Ogletree pushed Wallace. Didn’t Jennings have some higher duty, either patriotic or human, to do something other than just roll film as soldiers from his own country were being shot? “No,” Wallace said flatly and immediately. “You don’t have a higher duty. No. No. You’re a reporter!” Jennings backtracked fast. Wallace was right, he said. “I chickened out.”
I would have liked to think that this disgusting attitude would be rare in journalism. Perhaps it is. But apparently the New York Times agrees with the Wallace/Jennings position.
P.S. If NYT editors had learned of the 9/11 plot beforehand, would they have warned the government? Or would they have set up videocameras to get the best possible shot of the first plane hitting the tower?
An outrageous question? I think not. In light of this photograph, it seems like a perfectly sensible question.