Reader Michael Valois questioned the Times' reporter, James Dao, about his selection bias and forwarded me the exchanges. A defensive Dao (who did not respond to my e-mail inquiry) argued "there is nothing 'anti war' in the way I portrayed Corporal Starr." Dao then had the gall to berate the reader:
"Even the portion of his email that I used, the one that you seem so offended by, does not express anti-war sentiment. It does express the fatalism that many soldiers and marines seem to feel about multiple tours.
Have you been to Iraq, Michael? Or to any other war, for that matter? If you have, you should know the anxiety and fear parents, spouses, and troops themselves feel when they deploy to war. And if you haven't, what right do you have to object when papers like the New York Times try to describe that anxiety and fear?"
Mr. Dao sounds a bit unhinged playing the far-left chickenhawk card. Only people who have traveled to Iraq can criticize a paper's war-related coverage?
And Dao's dead-wrong about Corporal Starr's presumed "fatalism." If you don't believe Corporal Starr's own words, which Dao chose to ignore, listen to Corporal Starr's father, Brian. I asked him this week whether his son was fatalistic. "I don't agree at all. Jeff had an awareness of death, but was very positive about coming home."
Dao apologized to Valois for the tone of his snippy e-mail, but apparently feels no shame or sorrow for distorting a dead Marine's thoughts and feelings about war, sacrifice and freedom.
Will the Times correct Dao's grave sin of omission and apologize? Or will the paper just hope you shrug and look the other way?