Sunday, September 2, 2012

President Obama at Ft. Bliss: Unwelcome? (Or, what happens when we buy our news from a drug dealer...)

Was President Obama's speech to soldiers at Fort Bliss in Texas a flop? Was he unwelcome?

I ask because on Saturday, I saw the following story  from Red Alert Politics posted on a friend's facebook page. They had picked up a story from The Daily Beast. (Both are self described Conservative publications.)  The headline read as follows:

Obama speech to soldiers met with silence

(An excerpt from the story...)

President Barack Obama was greeted with fleeting applause and extended periods of silence as he offered profuse praise to soldiers and their families during an Aug. 31 speech in Fort Bliss, Texas.
His praise for the soldiers — and for his own national-security policies — won cheers from only a small proportion of the soldiers and families in the cavernous aircraft-hangar.
The audience remains quiet even when the commander-in-chief thanked the soldiers’ families, and cited the 198 deaths of their comrades in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The friend, who I will not reveal the name of, wrote an intro to this linked article...It read,  "And WHY would anyone, especially soldiers, be cheering for this 'Commander in Chief"? I personally applaud their silence, as it sent precisely the message it shouldve sent.....You, Mr.Obama, are not respected or welcome here. Kudos to all of our military for working hard for this country, something Obama would do well to emulate..."

I set about trying to research did in fact, President Obama receive the cold shoulder from US Military Troops at Ft. Bliss? 

I did a google search on Obama and Ft. Bliss speech and started reviewing the returns.

1st up was a CBS report on it that commented Obama "came on stage to applause..."

Next up was a HuffPo story, which I skipped due to its liberal bias...

Next was a NBC report...which didn't comment on the reception, but rather focused on the content of the speech...

Next was a link from Sodahead ..which basically reprinted much of the Daily Beast's story on the speech, but with no credit given to TDB...(Bad form.)

I kept looking for a mainstream source that mentioned the dud speech...

Next up was a blog, Nice Deb that featured Munro's story as the basis for her blog piece. (I did think the picture of Andrew Breitbart in her pitch for donations was pretty cool looking..) I moved on...

Next up was the, which is a favorite website of mine for good quality reporting. I felt like I was getting closer to some real journalism. Oddly, the Hill didn't mention anything about a chilly reception either.

I skipped the "Clash Daily" and the "Tammy Bruce" links, as they are both clearly conservative in perspective and worked off the Munro piece.

I was hopeful when I found an article on it from a local television station, but they didn't comment on it either...

I then looked at a Fox News piece-which like the other major news organisations, said nothing about it.

I gave up...certain that the mainstream/lamestream media had let us down again...

Given the negative reporting of his appearance and the soldiers reaction to him, I looked for a link to the actual video of the speech in the article, but didn't find any. The White House posted the speech on their own website, and the author Neil Munro, even referred to the video saying that, "The White House’s video-feed cut off 10 seconds after the president finished his speech, before the audience’s reaction overall could be gauged by viewers."


Let's see for ourselves, shall we? (The video is about 26 minutes long...)

Wow...where to start?

First off, while there where campaign themes clearly evident in the speech, it was not an official campaign appearance. This visit was to thank the servicemen for a job well done and to announce some new programs aimed at improving mental health services for military personnel. I saw no campaign posters. The speech touches on some hard issues about military service and while there were moments of the troops acknowledging various units, and other reactions of approval towards the increased help for the vets, America's virtues, the military in general, it is true, no question about it-no shouts of four more years where heard at all. Nor should there have been.

Its important to not judge a speech like this by a standard belonging to campaign events. Its unfair and a bit shitty to the troops to try and use them as a political tool against the President. As it would be towards any President.

In terms of reception, Mr. Obama was greeted warmly with applause and hollers by the troops. Repeatedly throughout the speech, the audience responded positively and appropriately. During those times where the dark side of military service was being discussed, there weren't-for obviously good reasons-any cheering or whooping.

I give my friend a bit of a pass on this as they are not a college educated journalist. They saw something, it resonated well with their world-view of hating all things Obama and they tossed it up on facebook. Its not the first time they've done this and it probably won't be the last. Regardless, its pathetic and offensive that a person would willfully accept slanted words such as Munro's without even a cursory check to peruse the facts. This friend often claims to be absolutely pro-military and chides the President for being actively against our servicemen. If the author's intent by posting such a story to the Daily Beast website was that it would not only be picked up by like-minded websites, but also spread around social media by like-minded readers, with little regard for the facts or the details of the event, well, Mr. Munro-well done.

I feel bad for my friend because I think they are sincere about their admiration and support of our military. Its shameful that writers and editors knowingly post material such as this patently unfair piece knowing that many readers don't fact-check, don't dig any deeper, etc. (Have no illusions, both sides of the political world engage in this behavior.) Readers are treated as whores by the media. They are used to spread a theme or a falsehood, with absolutely no regard for them by the authors.

Does the name Neil Munro ring a bell? It did for me, so I did some quick digging. Remember this little gem from a few months ago?

Mr. Munro breached a long standing point of etiquette by interrupting the POTUS in the Rose Garden during remarks on the immigration issue. Reporters from Fox News' Chris Wallace to Shepard Smith criticized Mr. Munro's actions. "I think it's outrageous," Wallace said. "...The idea that you would interrupt the president in the middle of prepared remarks and shout a question — I don’t think the guy should be allowed back in the White House on a press pass and my guess is he won't be."

One of the goals of the Reasonable Conversation Blog is to provide a fair handling of political issues. I acknowledge I lean left but often have written critically of this President and his Administration. I have criticized unfair liberal treatment of the Chik Fil-A matter, defending gun rights, etc. There is no defending Munro's willful manipulation of a military event. None. 

Mr. Munro's seems to be a "journalist" whose bias has gotten the best of him. I suppose there's room in our media for self-serving types who seem more intent on shining the light on themselves than on any serious journalism. To pervert the audience reaction to advance an agenda is one thing. When that audience is United States servicemen and women, I would think Mr. Munro would know where to draw the line that he ought not step over. He apparently does not. 

While his peers understand the game he's playing, too many readers don't. Munro victimizes his readers in the same way a drug dealer does by giving crack to an addict. Too many of us are high/drunk on the euphoria of unearthing negative content about whoever we don't like in the political realm. 

To pervert the words of a politician is, it seems standard operating procedure in many newsrooms. The Left does it as does the Right. We as an audience of all too often ignorant, thrill seeking recipients, often get what we ask for. If we so despise Mitt Romney that anything...anything at all that shines a negative light upon him is acceptable no matter how offensive the perversion involved, we fail. Or, if we so despise Barack Obama that anything...anything at all that shines a negative light upon him is acceptable no matter the perversion involved, we're complicit. We're guilty of not using our brains, our intellect and our intelligence to evaluate the facts of a thing. When we abandon reason, we revert back to being animals. Crude and beastly and unrefined.

This is more than a friend letting their hatred be manipulated by a professional writer to advance an agenda at the cost of perverting the response of the members of an institution that this friend holds dear. Multiply the offensive nature of this by a factor of a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, whatever and you can begin to understand the massive journalistic wildfire that we must fight. It is a scorched earth approach that destroys everything in its path that doesn't agree with the originator's premise.

This is not a game.

We are doing great damage to ourselves, our institutions and our Country by playing along just because it feels so damn good. 



  1. You have obviously never served or been around soldiers much - the speech was a flop, the huu-rahs sounded like it came from a platoon instead of a hall full of hard chargin fired up supportive troops, a company (140 or so soldiers) of fired up soldiers huu rahing is enough to blow out someone's hearing, there were about 400 or so there just looking at the video - weak and your friend is actually correct - our armed forces are adamantly not supportive of this President. You missed your mark.

  2. The military typically does vote for and support Republican nominees more than their Democratic counter-parts. Therefore, should we see that trend continue this Fall, will it be something unique to this President? It doesn't appear that way to me.

    That said, to your claim that "our armed forces are adamantly not supportive of this President," these reports from the Spring suggests that at that particular time at least, the veterans opinions were running in a different direction.

    Now, two stories won't change the long standing trend of military support for Republican vs. Democratic presidential candidates. As this Gallup poll from roughly the same time suggests: