Sunday, September 21, 2008

Iraq Vet Commits [Insert Preferred Crime Here]

Once again we are being treated to sensationalized accounts of returning Veterans that may run afoul of the law. Just like during the Viet Nam era, the media spares no effort at informing us when a Veteran may have crossed the line.

As a Fox News fan I thought they would prove their motto of “Fair and Balanced” by rising above this or at least balancing reports with articles of good that returning Veterans also may do.

I guess I am wrong.

Clicking on the Fox News Home Page this morning, in their Latest News section, on the lower right, we see the headline, “Manhunt for Iraq Vet Who Killed Sheriff's Deputy,” concerning a report of Police seeking a suspect out of Lenoir, N.C. wanted for the killing of a Deputy Sheriff.

Within the brief article we read, “Officials searching for the suspect said they believed he had worked as a law officer in South Carolina and served in the U.S. Army in Iraq.”

The actual headline from the article makes no mention of his possibly being an Iraq Vet, as does the link on the Home Page.

As a Viet Nam Veteran myself, I recall the shoddy reports of us upon and ongoing after our return to the United States. In fact, months ago I partially touched on this in my blog post, Veterans, Warriors and Heroes, not Victims.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I do not feel that we Veterans are insulated from wrongdoing; we are not. Every segment of society has some who, for whatever reason, violate the law and commit criminal acts, up to and including murder.

But, as we saw in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, including a plethora of cinematic excursions in fantasies continuing the Myth of the Deranged Veteran, society was taught to largely distrust those who once stood between them and America’s enemies.

This small article on Fox News is newsworthy, but it is ‘Nationally’ newsworthy? By adding “Iraq Vet” to their link to the story, they have made a local crime National News.

Still news, but on the National Scale?

As before what is missing are every day stories of the multitude of good accomplished by the Brave Warriors, both in theater and after their return. Somehow, those stories never seem newsworthy enough to make National News, although they happen on a daily basis across the nation.

Reader’s Digest has treated us to several accounts over the years of Veterans who stepped forward at auto accidents or other events and saved lives in the “Every day Heroes” section of their magazines, including the compassionate rescue of a dog from Iraq.

Somehow, we don’t see national Headlines of “Veteran Saves Lives at Accident,” or “Veteran Rescues Dog.” We only see headlines, sometimes misleading headlines, when a returning Veteran is accused of criminal activity, which ultimately becomes linked to their tour of duty, directly or indirectly.

I have come to expect this sort of one-sided reporting from National News outlets like the New York Times and the alphabet networks, ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN. They lean towards “victimizing Veterans, portraying us as hapless victims struggling to return to society.

Frankly, I expected better from Fox News.

News reporting is a business; we know that. They must make a profit too to stay in business. Sensationalizing headlines does draw people to their site.

But, how about some of that “Balance” they brag about? How about some stories of the heroics by our Brave Troops? How about some recognition for the sacrifices made by the Troops and their families?

Above all, how about stories, true stories, from around the country of the every day heroics these returning Heroes perform that greatly enhance our society? Surely Reader’s Digest cannot be the only source of these valuable accounts?

It’s the least we can do for those who have willingly placed them selves between the most barbaric and bloodthirsty enemy we have ever faced and us.

To all of our Veterans, Welcome Home. Thank You!


Maggie Thornton said...


I see this often, Lew. It sometimes seems some young producer assigns the title and then the reporting is completely different.

There's no excuse for it and there's no stopping it, either.


LewWaters said...

You're right, Maggie, there is no excuse for it and stopping it is next to impossible.

But, we can point it out whenever it happens.

Doesn't matter how large the outlet is, we little people can spread it out that sensationalized headlines, as misleading as they are, slander all, no just the one it is aimed at.

For me and many I know, we will not sit idly by and watch as they do to our newest Veterans what they did to us.

This time, we fight back.

Faultline USA said...

Lew I'm glad you are taking on Fox for this! I’ve begun to see a little edge in Fox – a little movement left. Perhaps they hedging their bets should Obama usher in total socialism? Above and beyond “fair and balanced” news is the almighty $$$.

I'm going to look out for a "Vet Saves Dog" story and give it a big plug!

LewWaters said...

Barb, the Reader's Digest links I provided have stories of heroics by Vets, including the one of the dog being rescued from Iraq and brought back to America.

We need to see stories like that more about our guys and girls fighting there and for the public to cherish them for the heroes they are, not war crazed vicitms.