Jun
28
2010

McChrystal's Media Soldiers Strike Back

Michael Hastings

Michael Hastings

It's not that surprising that some in the corporate media, driven either by admiration for ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal or disdain for Rolling Stone's scoop, have rushed in to defend or explain away his behavior. In Saturday's Washington Post (6/26/10), anonymous military sources tell the newspaper that the comments from McChrystal and his staff were supposed to be off the record:

The command's own review of events, said the official, who was unwilling to speak on the record, found "no evidence to suggest" that any of the "salacious political quotes" in the article were made in situations in which ground rules permitted Hastings to use the material in his story.

The Post's Karen DeYoung and Rajiv Chandrasekaran seem to think some of this military complaining is persuasive. They report that Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings took "minor liberties with the facts," based on the Post getting their hands on the factchecking emails between Rolling Stone and the military. The magazine asked if McChrystal indeed had voted for Obama–which is something he told Hastings. The military handler responded, "IMPORTANT–PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE THIS–THIS IS PERSONAL AND PRIVATE INFORMATION AND UNRELATED TO HIS JOB. IT WOULD BE INAPPROPRIATE TO SHARE."

Rolling Stone published this fact, in spite of the all-caps warning that it would be "INAPPROPRIATE TO SHARE." But how does reporting a fact someone else doesn't want reported qualify as taking "liberties with the facts"?

Lara Logan on 60 Minutes

Lara Logan

One gets the impression that many corporate media figures believe the real problem here is Michael Hastings. The right-wing Media Research Center has singled out CBS reporter Lara Logan for approval for her comments on CNN's Reliable Sources. Logan seems to believe the military's argument that the exchanges were meant to be off the record ("Something doesn't add up here"), in part because she's apparently not had the same experience with McChrystal and his staff: "I know these people. They never let their guard down like that."

Logan shows most clearly where she's coming from with this:

I mean, the question is, really, is what General McChrystal and his aides are doing so egregious, that they deserved to end a career like McChrystal's? Michael Hastings has never served his country the way McChrystal has.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.