Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Inappropriate comments: One of my friends, Sam, has a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. While this is frequently amusing, his sister-in-law, also a friend of mine, calls him to the carpet with the simple "inappropriate comment" to tell him that he's out of line. This has stuck him with he nom de guerre: "Inappropriate Comment Sam."
To quote Bill Cosby: "I told you that story so I could tell you this one..."
It seems New York Times reporter Chris Hedges is a left-wing liberal struggling to shed his unbiased journalistic shell. Hedges, speaking at the Rockford College (Ill.) graduation ceremony used the opportunity to become "Inappropriate Comment Chris." Hedges, a war correspondent, attacked the United States government over the war in Iraq.
Hedges, a war correspondent, criticized military heroic ideals that grow during war. The fervor sacrifices individual thought for temporarily belonging to something larger, he said.
Hedges sympathized with U.S. soldiers. He characterized them as boys from places such as Mississippi and Arkansas who joined the military because there were no job opportunities.
“War in the end is always about betrayal. Betrayal of the young by the old, of soldiers by politicians and idealists by cynics,” Hedges said in lecture fashion as jeers and “God Bless Americas” could be heard in the background.
After his microphone was again unplugged, (College President Paul) Pribbenow told Hedges to wrap it up.
Hedges, has every right to his beliefs, but a college graduation ceremony isn't the place for this kind of vitriol.
Of course, Hedges comments raise another issue -- what is the responsibility of a reporter to maintain the appearance of fairness and honesty when it comes to reporting his beat? I'd suggest that Hedges' tirade against the military and the government, at the very least, precludes him from covering any military conflict for the Times' news pages in the future.
There's a couple of openings for general assignment reporters at the San Diego Union-Tribune, where I work as a page designer, right now. I've actually considered applying for one of those jobs, but the likelihood that I would have to give up blogging has weighed against it. In my current job, I have relatively little to do with the content of the news product. I make sure it looks good, but I don't edit copy or write headlines. I think that is probably the main reason why my blogging (on anything and everything) is tolerated.
Hedges has compromised himself. The Times needs to re-evaluate his job responsibilities.