Tucson Rant

As I was growing up the Vietnam War was in pretty much full swing.  The manner in which veterans and active duty personnel were treated as they returned really colored much of my thinking, and opinions of veterans, in a bad way.  Fortunately, as I aged and was more able to build my own world view my thinking changed, and of course this change led to my own bid for an Academy slot, eventually a tour in the Marine Corps.

One of the things that struck me though was that as a result of SE Asia, the veteran community became pretty low key.  As veterans moved into the civilian community, they had a tendency to keep that background fairly close to the vest, unless it was applicable and the audience was “right”.  Either I am becoming more sensitive to this issue, or society has changed and shifted since Desert Storm.  I suspect that the latter is true.

Over the years, I have been watching how the Mainstream Media (MSM) approaches news stories in general and have developed the opinion that the key players in the media have not evolved with the times.  They still are living in the 60’s and 70’s.  Perhaps, this is based on their education, and growth during this period.  With the younger reporters, their spin on stories reflect both the attitudes of their editors and their educators.  As a result of this you wind up with a stories that tend to start with a conclusion, and then only present the information that supports that conclusion.  Hmmm, sounds like the global warming phenomenon.

Over the weekend, their was an assassination attempt in Arizona.  Now, the assassination of political figures in the United States, really do not happen all that often so this is big news.  But there are two really disturbing things that our 24 hour news cycle did with this story.

  1. Misinformation.  Because there is a driving pressure to be the first out with information (information is power) the MSM reports whatever they can get their hands on.  This in turn creates pressure on police, political, and other officials, to get information out to the media channels.  As a result mistakes are made.  People report either what they know, have been told, or have “ad-libbed” to meet the needs of the moment.  If you are someone that does not spend a lot of time with cameras and microphones in your face, there is a level of “pressure” to perform that is unusually high.  All of that is prior to the actual “editing” for sound bites that is then done by the media.
  2. Selective Information (Spin).  As I stated before, in many cases reporters tend to jump to their own conclusion and present that information as fact.  As a result, their 30 – 90 sec segment will be very quick to point out the conclusion, and then the “edited” facts that support that conclusion.

Getting back to the tragedy in Arizona.  The investigations will continue, and more and more information will be confirmed and drive out to a conclusion.  That conclusion may already be obvious to many investigators but they will do the work necessary to build out the argument for the lawyers to use in court.  In the interim we have the news channels reporting that the shooter is: muslim, Al-Qaida, etc.  Then when we actually learn that is not true, we get everyone and their brother jumping on their own pet targets [Tam did a nice little piece on this, go here.  She uses big words].

These reports are all interesting to the mainstream populous, or so the media would like us to believe.  But what do you want to know about the incident?  Out of the gate, I want to know:  What happened, when and where did it happen, who was involved in all aspects, and is there a threat to me or my family.  Moving on from there, I want to know who did what during and after the “critical dynamic incident” (I always wanted to use that phrase), and has further investigation changed the overall threat level for any specific groups.

After that I can take a breath, and take a second look around at the human toll and put that in personal context.  Any event where an individual is killed, or grievously injured is a tragedy.  That tragedy is often devastating to the family, and those close to the individual.  In all honesty though, how the family grieves, and deals with the situation is personal and private.  If I am not personally acquainted with the victim’s families, I do not want to intrude, nor should the press.  But, there they are day in and day out on the doorstep of the victim’s home looking for that statement, or tear that will drive up their ratings.  Just like a jackal.

Where is this long winded rant ultimately going?  Did you know some of the key figures involved in this incident are veterans?  You have one of the key figures that tackled the shooter, being a retired Army COL.  The trauma doc in Tuscon is a Navy doc, who effectively says, an eleven person mass casualty due to gun shot wounds is really not a big deal we know how to deal with that and dealt with a lot worse while in combat zones.

It is the quiet, competent, unassuming guy that you unknowingly see everyday that has the training, and the experience to act and then will play it down as just being in the right place at the right time.  These are the guys that the military predominately produces, and then allows to quietly move on to civilian life.  These are the “sheepdogs” scattered throughout the populace that are willing and able to act.  These are the men and women that at one point in their lives wrote a blank check to this Country for an amount of up to and including their life.  These are the people that the reporters will generally go out of their way to leave out of the story.  But in the end, the truth generally comes out.

UPDATE:  The folks over at HotAir have some similar thoughts regarding conclusions.

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