Former naval aviator Pete Peterman lives in Ohio and winters in Sarasota. He attends our Naval Aviation Golden Pelican Squadron luncheons when he is here. Today, I received the following E-mail from him and decided to share it with you:

A few days ago, there was an editorial in our local paper praising the media and what a wonderful job they were doing telling us the truth about Iraq. The writer ended by saying that all critics should either apologize or shut up.

Enough is enough and it made me mad. I sent the editor a response about it and he published it in the paper! All I wanted to do was rant to someone in the business rather than to guys at the golf course or at the Knights of Columbus, over scotch & soda. Our son made a copy of it, which I will share with you:

MEDIA IGNORE GOOD NEWS FROM IRAQ Article published Jun 5, 2006

In response to “Mournful Milestone in Iraq” from Wednesday, May 31, in the Another View section, I must get something “off my chest,” as they say, instead of grumbling and privately complaining.

The writer from Scripps Howard ends by saying that people who criticize journalists and news organizations should either apologize or just shut up. The great majority of journalists are indeed professional but there are exceptions - just as allegedly with our troops. I'd like to offer a rebuttal.

Recently, I spoke with a young Army Special Forces soldier just home from his second (voluntary) tour in Iraq. He said that there was an embedded journalist with them during his second tour and asked me to not identify the newspaper - but I will say that it is a large one and a familiar name.

During his tour their unit:

  • Rebuilt a school and soccer field and gave the children clothing and school supplies. No pictures. No report.
  • Helped improve and expand a women's hospital. No pictures. No report.
  • Didn't respond when gunmen shot at them, taunted them and dared them to shoot back. The gunmen were in a school occupied by screaming children. No pictures. No report.
  • Captured a gunman who had just wounded one of the soldiers.

During interrogation, the gunman spit in the interrogator's face and was slapped in response. The reporter snapped a picture of the incident and said he was writing a story. When asked why there wasn't a report on the helpful things, he responded that Americans “don't want good news and are bored by it.” He was tasked by his superiors to look for sensationalist things and to pay particular attention to acts by our soldiers. The young soldier said that the troops are very wary of the embedded reporters and go out of their way to stay “on their good side,” for obvious reasons.

The unit Commanding Officer told the journalist he was no longer welcome if all he would report were only bad things. The journalist angrily declared that he would destroy the unit in his next report, to which the C.O. responded that he already had by his one and only story.

Good! Now I feel better! In my opinion, the troops deserve better than they presently receive from much of the mass media.

Roy “Pete” Peterman
2011 Norwood Blvd.
Zanesville, OH 43701-2146