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Paper Regrets Handling of Rumsfeld Story
Yahoo News/Associated Press ^ | 12/10/2004 | BILL POOVEY, Associated Press Writer

Posted on 12/10/2004 9:38:24 AM PST by stylin_geek

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Readers should have been told promptly that an embedded reporter had helped frame a question that a serviceman asked of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld this week in Kuwait, the reporter's publisher says.

AP Photo

The question to Rumsfeld from Spc. Thomas "Jerry" Wilson, 31, of Nashville, complaining that many military vehicles in Iraq (news - web sites) are not adequately armored, has touched off a storm of new publicity about the issue.

"In hindsight, information on how the question was framed should have been included in Thursday's story in the Times Free Press. It was not," the paper's publisher and executive editor, Tom Griscom, said in a note to readers published Friday.

Military affairs reporter Edward Lee Pitts, who is embedded with the 278th Regimental Combat Team, said he worked with guardsmen after being told reporters would not be allowed to ask Rumsfeld any questions.

Griscom said Pitts "used the tools available to him as a journalist to report on a story that has been and remains important to members of the 278th and those back at home."

Pitts had sent an e-mail to co-workers back in Tennessee on Wednesday outlining his role.

"I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts," he wrote. "Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have."

He also said he went to the officer running the question and answer session "and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd."

But the story by Pitts published Thursday about the question to Rumsfeld made no mention of Pitts' own role.

The question from Wilson appeared to surprise Rumsfeld on Wednesday and prompted cheers among the soldiers listening to him in a hangar.

"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?" Wilson had said.

Rumsfeld said the Army was prodding manufacturers of vehicle armor to produce it quickly, but added, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have."

In commending Pitts' work, Griscom, who served as White House communications director under President Reagan, said Pitts "used what was available to him to get an answer to a story that we have covered and that has been important."

Kelly McBride, a member of the ethics faculty at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, said she did not fault the reporter for getting help with asking the question, but described the failure to include that information with his story as "dishonest with his readers."

"I suspect some people would see it as manipulative," McBride said. "I suspect Rumsfeld felt manipulated."

Pentagon (news - web sites) spokesman Larry Di Rita said Rumsfeld gives reporters ample time to ask questions and that his appearance in Kuwait was for the soldiers.

"Town Hall meetings are intended for soldiers to have dialogue with the secretary of defense," Di Rita said. "It would be unfortunate to discover that anyone might have interfered with that opportunity, whatever the intention."

The reporter's e-mail also indicated Pitts was proud of his role in asking the question: "I just had one of my best days as a journalist today," he wrote. He said it "felt good" that the question and answer received so much attention from other media.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: armor; army; edwardleepitts; meeting; misleading; newspapers; rumsfeld
I am shocked, I tell you, just shocked. (and I have a bridge for sale, too)
1 posted on 12/10/2004 9:38:32 AM PST by stylin_geek
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To: stylin_geek
Rumsfeld wanted an open town hall meeting with NO screened questions.

His integrity shines as opposed to the slimy reporter's lack thereof.

2 posted on 12/10/2004 9:41:27 AM PST by OldFriend (PRAY FOR MAJ. TAMMY DUCKWORTH)
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To: stylin_geek
I actually have to respect the paper for coming out with this. The NYSlimes would have taken at least 6 months to blame it on a minor reporter. CBS would never admit any failure.
3 posted on 12/10/2004 9:42:24 AM PST by ProudVet77 (Beer - It's not just for breakfast anymore.)
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To: HAL9000

FYI.

You were right; again.


4 posted on 12/10/2004 9:43:21 AM PST by Howlin (W, Still the President)
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To: stylin_geek

What they are thinking is that they wished their guy had not leaked out the fact that he was behind the question.


5 posted on 12/10/2004 9:44:59 AM PST by Brilliant
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To: OldFriend
Send that reporter on a return trip to the Homeland.
6 posted on 12/10/2004 9:45:04 AM PST by pointsal
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To: OldFriend
Readers should have been told promptly that an embedded reporter had helped frame a question

Helped frame?

How about "manipulated?" "Planted?"

He didn't just "suggest" the question; he handpicked the guys he took with him to the townhall and made sure that the guy who was picking the questioners picked them.

We hear the Dan Rather excuse: "But the question was valid."

7 posted on 12/10/2004 9:45:37 AM PST by Howlin (W, Still the President)
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To: Brilliant
Exactly.

Griscom said Pitts "used the tools available to him as a journalist to report on a story...

Tools? They are characterizing young impressionable Guardsmen as "tools?"

"Available to him?" I'd rectify that immediately if I were in charge.

8 posted on 12/10/2004 9:47:25 AM PST by Howlin (W, Still the President)
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To: stylin_geek

To the pulisher, you got caught, so stuff it. Or as TAHRAAAZA says: SHOVE IT


9 posted on 12/10/2004 9:51:38 AM PST by marty60
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To: marty60; Brilliant; OldFriend; Howlin; pointsal; ProudVet77
For more on this story, see Little Green Footballs here.
10 posted on 12/10/2004 9:55:16 AM PST by stylin_geek (Liberalism: comparable to a chicken with its head cut off, but with more spastic motions)
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To: stylin_geek
Griscom said Pitts "used the tools available to him as a journalist to report on a story that has been and remains important to members of the 278th and those back at home."

This was just another sleazy trick that "journalists" can use to covertly discredit the Bush administration.

It is valueless to discerning listeners and or readers!

Hateful is a good description and is what news sellers and news writers can use to get undeserved attention!

11 posted on 12/10/2004 10:00:51 AM PST by VOYAGER
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To: stylin_geek
The MSM was really upset when Rummy didn't resign with other cabinet members in the second term, so now they they are Hell-bent to make him step down.

The reality is that, like Vietnam, the enemy can only hope to win through the media. Step 1: This cockroach of a human being reporter plants a loaded question. Step 2: terrorists search high and low to find an unarmored Humvee, preferably from that particular unit, and attack it with everything they've got in which case armor wouldn't do much any way. Step 3: MSM clamors for Rummy to be crucified in public as oh my gosh looked at what just happened. Step 4: Terrorists and the MSM can both claim victory.

Bet ya money that, gasp, Halliburton or some other such contractor with construction experience could have, or could, armor humvees quickly. If so the headlines would be "Chenney's old company receives sweet heart deal--should Bush resign or be impeached?"
12 posted on 12/10/2004 10:06:08 AM PST by WmDonovan (http://www.geocities.com/thelawndaletimes)
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To: stylin_geek

A dirty trick is still a dirty trick. Maybe the paper deserves some credit for half confessing it. But what choice did they have? They aren't a megapower like CBS. And the email was already out convicting them of misbehavior.

Yes, they were wrong to withhold the fact that the question was planted. And now they are wrong not confess that planting a question in such circumstances is just plain wrong.

The reporter was stupid to have left a paper trail with his email boasting about his own cleverness. But stupidity doesn't excuse professional misbehavior. Now he should be disciplined or fired.


13 posted on 12/10/2004 10:07:30 AM PST by Cicero (Nil illegitemus carborundum est)
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To: stylin_geek
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) is one of the more outspoken critics of this situation. For laughs, though, you really need to check out his OIF-Troop Protection page. Screenshot here: http://www.murdoconline.net/archives/001822.html Oh, the irony.
14 posted on 12/10/2004 10:12:17 AM PST by murdocj (Murdoc Online - Everyone is entitled to my opinion (http://www.murdoconline.net))
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To: stylin_geek

I'd like to thank the person who this reporter sent his e-mail to who ratted him out. It is obvious that the reporter who leaked the e-mail thought this Pitts guy was manipulating the news instead of just reporting it.

Plus I didn't like Wilson's rendition of having to go through the dumps to find the material. I thought it sounded exaggerated and false.


15 posted on 12/10/2004 10:22:59 AM PST by BushisTheMan
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To: Cicero
I suspect that this was all the reporter's doing and that the newspaper is an innocent victim. He framed the question, submitted his notes from the press conference, the editor figured, "wow this is a pretty good story about our troops and what they are going through, gotta run it" and woke up the next day to find out that the reporter was running around blabbing about how he framed the question.

That probably explains why the newspaper is making no bones about apologizing for what happened, it wasn't malicious intent on their part as it would be in the case of the NY Times or CBS, but a case of them being taken advantage of by one of there reporters.

16 posted on 12/10/2004 10:34:00 AM PST by True North Strong and Free
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To: stylin_geek
The commentary on little green footballs was outstanding.

Is FR allowed to drag over some of their better articles/letters?

17 posted on 12/10/2004 10:36:22 AM PST by OldFriend (PRAY FOR MAJ. TAMMY DUCKWORTH)
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To: stylin_geek

Speaking like a Kennedy, its not really rape if you say your sorry is it?


18 posted on 12/10/2004 10:38:36 AM PST by TheForceOfOne
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To: stylin_geek

I actually discussed this topic with my college english teacher. She is a liberal but expressed deep disgust over what has become of the media, i.e. NYT, Dan Rather, and now this.


19 posted on 12/10/2004 10:54:47 AM PST by Trust but Verify (Their candidate uses rock stars to attract crowds. Ours IS a rock star!)
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To: stylin_geek

The only thing they regret is getting caught.


20 posted on 12/10/2004 10:55:33 AM PST by mewzilla
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To: OldFriend
I would think that if you excerpt so there is a link to the story, that would be okay with them. More site traffic is always better. Plus, LGF was one of the prime movers in the Rathergate story.
21 posted on 12/10/2004 11:13:19 AM PST by stylin_geek (Liberalism: comparable to a chicken with its head cut off, but with more spastic motions)
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To: BushisTheMan

"Plus I didn't like Wilson's rendition of having to go through the dumps to find the material. I thought it sounded exaggerated and false."

Why? During WWII soldiers used sandbags and anything else they could get their hands on to increase the armor protection of their Sherman tanks. If you were in Iraq you would likely be doing the same thing. There is no such thing as too much armor. More is always better.


22 posted on 12/10/2004 11:23:38 AM PST by monday
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To: stylin_geek

Thanks, their contributors are excellent.


23 posted on 12/10/2004 11:36:38 AM PST by OldFriend (PRAY FOR MAJ. TAMMY DUCKWORTH)
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To: stylin_geek
The question from Wilson appeared to surprise Rumsfeld

No, it didn't. Here's the very first thing Rumsfeld said when giving his lengthy answer. Yes, he asked for the question to be repeated--as in "I missed the first part of your question"---and it is my opinion if he was taken aback at all it was because the "first part" of the question said we'd been in Iraq coming up on *three* years. Anyhoo, Rumsfeld went on and on and on and didn't seem the least surprised since he'd JUST been discussing the issue as one can see here:

SEC. RUMSFELD: I talked to the General coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they’re not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I’m told that they are being – the Army is – I think it’s something like 400 a month are being done. And it’s essentially a matter of physics. It isn’t a matter of money. It isn’t a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It’s a matter of production and capability of doing it.

~snip~

he went on from there.

24 posted on 12/10/2004 12:18:19 PM PST by cyncooper
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To: monday

Why?

Because there are mechanical divisions in Iraq. I'm assuming they haul any vehicles that have been hit by IEDs to the mechanics location. I would assume that the military would used these vehicles to get parts/armour off of instead of going to dumps.

I think the soldier was giving a sob story before his "pre-planned" question to Rumsfield. I think the sob story came from the reporter's suggestion.


25 posted on 12/10/2004 12:55:29 PM PST by BushisTheMan
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To: BushisTheMan
"I would assume that the military would used these vehicles to get parts/armour off of instead of going to dumps. "

You "assume" that mechanics have time to strip armor off of vehicles rather than spend all their time fixing vehicles?

You "assume" that "the mechanics location" is anywhere near the units who are actually going out on patrol and who would be doing the makeshift armoring?

You "assume" that the military command is doing the makeshift armoring rather than individual soldiers and units?

Lots of his fellow soldiers cheered when he asked that question. Clearly it was a preplanned question, but just as clearly, it was a question that many of the soldiers there were interested in. I think you are "assuming" wrong.
26 posted on 12/10/2004 1:39:12 PM PST by monday
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To: monday

You "assume" I am wrong.


27 posted on 12/10/2004 1:41:43 PM PST by BushisTheMan
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To: BushisTheMan
Yes, but then clearly my assumptions are superior to yours or you would attempt to rebut them. It's ok, you are not the first to fall before my superior intellect..hehe.. just kidding.
28 posted on 12/10/2004 1:45:43 PM PST by monday
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To: monday

GEN. WHITCOMB: Ma'am, no I have not spoken with Specialist Wilson, and purposely I didn't. The point is not whether he was going through a landfill -- and I'll tell you how we do things -- the point is he brought up a question on up-armored vehicles.

What I think Specialist Wilson was probably talking about is going through a facility that we've got that takes vehicles of two types; one, it takes vehicles that have been hit in combat and can't be fixed in Iraq and we bring them back here into Kuwait and we either fix them or we take parts off them that we can use. And some of those parts may, in fact, be the level-three armor, the steel plating that we either take off and put into stacks that we'll reuse, or that my suspicion -- and it's a suspicion only -- is that Specialist Wilson and his crew came in and found a vehicle or found some of that stuff and was taking it to add on to their vehicles. It's counterproductive to go try and track the specialist down. He had a concern for the armoring for his vehicles, as we all do, and he brought that up and we addressed that. I don't think -- well, I just don't know whether he was in a landfill. We don't normally throw things that we can use back into a trash bin or a landfill-type thing.




29 posted on 12/10/2004 1:58:49 PM PST by BushisTheMan
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To: BushisTheMan
What soldiers are using is scrap, it doesn't have to be manufactured originally as armor. RPGs explode on contact and carry an armor penetrating charge. If they can be made to go off before hitting and penetrating the side of a vehicle, obviously less damage occurs.

Many vehicles have grilles welded to them in order to explode an RPG before it hits the side of a vehicle. I believe this is the type of modifications soldiers are doing in the field. Heavy armor isn't necessary for these modifications.
30 posted on 12/10/2004 2:13:54 PM PST by monday
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To: stylin_geek
"used the tools available to him as a journalist to report on a story that has been and remains important to members of the 278th and those back at home."


Ambushing the Sec of Defense with a loaded question from a deceptive person who has ulterior motives is a tool intended to set off a controversy. If Rumsfeld knew the source of the question, he could could have replied directly to the concerns of the Questioner. As it is we have the best equipped military in history. You can always say more should have been done and it should have been done faster.
31 posted on 12/10/2004 2:18:45 PM PST by oldbrowser (You lost the election.....................Get over it.)
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To: Howlin

I wonder if this Pitts is any relation to William Rivers Pitts?.....


32 posted on 12/10/2004 3:20:32 PM PST by deport (I've done a lot things.... seen a lot of things..... Most of which I don't remember.)
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