MIDLAND, Texas -- A decade ago, I was hunting not far from here with my now-departed friend Joe Foss, the World War II Marine fighter ace and Medal of Honor recipient. I made an impatient long-range shot at a fast-moving deer -- and missed the target. Joe shook his head, looked at me and said, "What were you thinking?"
Joe's challenge came to mind repeatedly this week during interviews about my new book, "American Heroes in Special Operations." Almost invariably, young reporters asked a question or two about the best-selling book and then shifted to queries about events during the Reagan administration. Finally, they got around to what was really on their minds, the hot story of the day: "Do you have any comment on Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton?"
Now, I have to admit that I suffer from what my kids call "cultural-deficit disorder," or CDD. The first time I was asked about the royal nuptials, my feeble response was: "Who?"
When the reporter explained that Princess Diana's eldest son, William, had just announced his betrothal to a "commoner," my response was even worse: "Who cares?"
It didn't take long to learn that was the wrong answer. Apparently, everyone in the media cares about it. By the time we re-boarded the book tour bus, the royal engagement was the lead story on every network and newswire. It dominated the blogosphere. And the next day, it was in every newspaper -- local and nationwide. Photos of the attractive couple were everywhere. It all brought to mind the question Joe Foss put to me: "What were you thinking?"
"If it bleeds, it leads" is a canon of today's mass media, so bad news usually trumps good news for editors and producers. But this week proves there is an even more powerful maxim: "Trivial celebrity news beats all." The carefully choreographed royal pronouncement pushed at least two other events -- far more important to Americans -- well into the background of U.S. print and broadcast media.
The English engagement eclipsed coverage of the Medal of Honor presentation for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta. He's but the eighth recipient of our nation's highest award for valor "above and beyond the call of duty" in the war against radical Islam. The Iowa soldier's combination of courage, humility and self-sacrifice make a compelling narrative. Yet, thanks to our media's infatuation with the rich and famous, we now know more about a British prince's fiancee than we do about one of our bravest and brightest countrymen. Those who want to know more about what Giunta did to become the only living recipient of the Medal of Honor in this nine-year war should visit http://www.FreedomAlliance.org.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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