He's Ready for His Close-up, Mr. Fager
Over the past couple of months, we've written extensively about "Petition for Redress," the supposedly grass-roots campaign by junior military personnel to end our involvement in Iraq. More than 1,000 military members have reportedly signed the group's on-line petition, and they were featured prominently at a recent anti-war rally in Washington, D.C.
Now, Petition for Redress is heading for prime time, courtesy of CBS's "60 Minutes." Matt Drudge has posted (what appears to be) a network press release, touting the segment which will air on Sunday night. The story was reported by correspondent Lara Logan, who is--clearly--no friend of the U.S. military. Last year, Ms. Logan mounted an internet campaign to get the network to air her report on fighting along Baghdad's Haifa Street, a segment that CBS deemed "too graphic" for broadcast TV.
But, as Michelle Malkin--and others--pointed out, the story had more serious problems that images of dead bodies; video incorporated into Logan's report--which she claimed was "obtained by CBS News"--proved virtually identical to Al Qaida propaganda video of the same battle. Logan made no mention of how she obtained the video, or where it came from. As Ms. Malkin asked at the time: was Lara Logan an ignorant fool or a willing tool? Watch the videos, and draw your own conclusions. But, given that reputation, I'm highly suspicious of any military story reported by Lara Logan.
You should also be suspicious of Petition for Redress, as we've noted in the past. CBS will apparently depict the group's members as concerned and conscientious personnel, interviewed off-base and off-duty to prevent any conflict with their military duties. But in reality, the group is an astro-turf movement, backed by a high-powered public relations firm in D.C. (Fenton Communications), which promotes the anti-war organization and arranges media "opportunities." Funding for the P.R. effort appears to come from big-money leftist groups like Moveon.org and the Fourth Freedom Forum, which are also Fenton clients. According to the New York Sun, the Fourth Freedom Forum encouraged Fenton to hype the military group last October, just weeks after its inception. As we wondered a few weeks ago, how many other start-up organizations manage to secure the services of of top P.R. firm, barely a month after they launch?
Media outlets that have covered Petition for Redress are certainly aware of its relationship with Fenton Communications, but you won't see that in any of their reports. And, not surprisingly, you can expect that 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager will ignore that connection as well. On the other hand, you can certainly expect the network to present the group's founder, Petty Officer Jonathan Hutto, as a young sailor of conviction and conscience. But, if you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that Petty Officer Hutto isn't your typical sailor. Thanks to some digging by the Sun and Greyhawk at the Mudville Gazette, we know that Hutto joined the Navy in 2004, only one year after participating in some well-publicized anti-war protests. He's also a college graduate who worked as a paid staffer for Amnesty International and other liberal groups before enlisting in the Navy. And, he's also accused the service of racism and discrimination in the not-too-distant past.
Call me a bit jaded and cynical, but the timing of Hutto's enlistment (and subsequent founding of the anti-war group) seems more than a bit convenient. It's difficult to imagine how someone leading an anti-war rally in 2003 would enlist in the Navy a year later, with the full knowledge that he might be called to participate in a conflict he so adamantly opposed. I don't think Hutto is the "Manchurian Sailor," some sort of plant by the radical left to stir up dissent within the ranks. However, I do believe that Hutto had a plan when he showed up at that recruiting office, and (following the Vietnam-era model) he's using military service to pad a resume and polish his activist credentials, angling for some sort of political career in the future. Can the publication of "Winter Sailor" be far behind?
As for me, I won't be watching that 60 Minutes segment on Sunday. I recommend that you skip it, too.