Thomas Sowell

This seeking of privileges in the name of rights extends far beyond the campuses. Journalists have been wrapping themselves in the First Amendment for years -- even as they assume the role of citizens of the world, who soar above the parochial concerns of the United States of America. One of the cable networks doesn't want its employees to use the word "terrorists" to describe those who launched an attack that killed thousands of American civilians. Various media outlets apparently feel a need to give equal time, if not moral equivalence, to Osama bin Laden and others in the terrorist organizations.

Would anyone have thought of giving Hitler free time to broadcast his propaganda on networks during World War II?

The most unconscionable media act of all may well have been the banner headline on the front of the New York Times of October 10th: "U.S. Said to Plan Copter Raids in Afghanistan." The Times' motto is "All the News That's Fit to Print." But, while reporting what has happened is news, reporting what is about to happen with American troops in a military operation is more like espionage.

Nor is this the first time that the media have been reckless with the lives of fellow Americans in combat. During the Gulf War a decade ago, one of the reporters on the scene broadcast to the world that the Iraqi missiles being fired at American troops were missing and landing "five miles north of here." That is the kind of information that an enemy needs to adjust his range. It is the kind of information which spies and spotters are supposed to provide. But here it was being supplied free of charge.

Perhaps that is what to expect from journalists who claim all the privileges of Americans, while acting as citizens of the world, neutral as between "both sides." Since they are so totally incapable of self-criticism, the rest of us should at least understand the implications of their self-indulgence.

There are American troops who can die needlessly in combat, and American children who can grow up as orphans, because somebody forgot the old wartime maxim, "Loose lips sink ships." There is great consternation in the press and in Congress that President Bush has ordered stricter limits on who gets military briefings. But it is reassuring that irresponsible people will now have adult supervision.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate