Recently, a certain Senator from Massachusetts made some rather uncharitable remarks about the educational level of our troops in harms way. The varying ways in which he chose to initially and then subsequently insult both their intelligence and ours are the parts of the story that have been widely covered.
What has not received much coverage is the fact that a few days after his remarks, some of our troops in the field decided they would reply to Senator Kerry as only military folks would. Their effort is represented in a picture that was all over the Internet but nowhere in the mainstream print media. The obvious question is, “Why was this widely available picture so blatantly ignored by newspapers and newsmagazines prior to a major election?”
I suggest there are five logically possible reasons:
All the editors and contributing journalists at all the nation’s major newspapers simply hadn’t seen the picture. If they hadn’t seen it, surely it would have been unfair to expect them to print it. Of course, given the nature of the Internet and email, this explanation is possible only in the logical sense, much like the way it’s logically possible that Bigfoot exists or that there’s really a rotund gift-giver up North.
They saw the picture, but did not consider it newsworthy. This is surely the most charitable interpretation, and I hope it’s the true one. Nonetheless, it speaks to a great incompetence in judging what is a good news story, deciding which stories demand a balanced perspective, and, most obviously, being able to understand the interests of the American public. Every person I showed this picture to found it highly entertaining and very newsworthy. Using the disconnect between the news editors and the American public as an excuse here seems like a dubious strategy for vindication given that it is essentially an appeal to ineptitude.
They saw the picture and considered it newsworthy, but didn’t feel that the military personnel portrayed should be allowed to exercise their free speech rights in American newsprint. At the risk of being juvenilely obvious, I would think that of all people our servicemen and women are entitled to the greatest regard for their views. Unless, that is, the newspaper editors all agree with the original content of Senator Kerry’s comments and were afraid that the people in the picture did not realize they were misspelling so many words.