Friday, December 10, 2004

Breaking the News: If you want to keep something a secret, don't send the information through an e-mail. I'm almost suspicious that the Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter wanted everybody to know that he was the one who prompted that soldier to ask his now famous question to Rumsfeld about the lack of armor for military vehicles in Iraq.

Nevertheless, some people are criticizing the reporter for involving himself in a news story. Perhaps the reporter could have handled the situation differently, but he didn't do anything wrong.

So long as the reporter didn't try to buy off the soldier -- with money, favorable coverage, etc. -- it doesn't matter so much that a little coaxing was involved. The soldier could have declined to do it. So it was obviously a concern of the soldier's, and it seems to be a concern of all the troops who cheered loudly at the question -- and I'll bet the reporter had nothing to do with that.

It was, perhaps, dishonest for the reporter not to mention in his story that he talked the soldier into asking the question. He simply could have mentioned that Rumsfeld wasn't taking questions from reporters, but a soldier agreed to relay one reporter's question on an issue that has been on the minds of many of the troops in Iraq.

I always tell my sources, Don't get mad at the questions, just answer them. This was a legitimate question. And given the attention the question and Rumsfeld's response have received, it seems also to be a serious issue that, I'm guessing, now may actually be resolved.


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