Wednesday, February 22, 2006

CBS kills stories, don't they?

David Martin, Pentagon correspondent for CBSNews, reveals at the Public Eye blog that he killed a story an hour before it was scheduled to air on national television after the Pentagon complained:

This week I killed a story about the battle against Improvised Explosive Devices after a senior military officer told me it contained information that would be helpful to the enemy. I didn’t find his argument about how it would help the enemy very persuasive, but because there’s a war on I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. I’ve done that a number of times over the years, and each time it’s turned out that going with the story wouldn’t have caused any harm. It’s always a difficult decision, made more difficult by the fact that it always seems to happen late in the day when you’re under deadline pressure. When I killed the story on Thursday, it was 5:30 – an hour to air – and I left the Evening News broadcast without a lead story which they had been counting on all day. Not a good career move.

What was the story exactly?

The story I killed dealt with specific techniques and how well they were or weren’t working against IEDs. It wasn’t as simple as “you report this and American soldiers will die,” but I could see how it might conceivably be news the enemy could use to make their IEDs more effective.

Wonder if they were going to report something like this? Pay special attention to the last paragraph at that link.

What exactly is the news value in such a story?

Why did David Martin pursue this story in the first place?

I just don't understand why any news organization (or the Website that I linked to which is run by many ex-military personnel) would think that a story which contains information on what IEDs don't do as good a job of killing our troops as other IEDs would be of any news value interest to anyone except IED makers.

It's too bad David Martin and CBS News seem to be drawing blanks on what stories they should be covering because there's a million-and-one stories just in regards to the (haven't written this in a while) illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq that they could be writing which wouldn't specifically be providing useful knowledge to the enemy (specifically about the why and the when that we went to war in the first place which CBS News hasn't exactly led the way on).

It's sad that it took a senior military officer to get Martin to kill the story. It should have been a CBS producer who stopped it in the first place.

But Mr. Martin, though I'm not at all pissed that the world didn't get to see your piece-of, don't think you're off the hook.

David Martin and CBSNews now have a Dick Cheney problem.

I’ve done that a number of times over the years, and each time it’s turned out that going with the story wouldn’t have caused any harm.

Do you mind filling us in, David?

What other stories did you kill? Why did you kill them? Who asked you to kill them? What other stories haven't you killed that may have been asked of you to kill? Why haven't you reported on them later if you believe they "wouldn't have caused any harm"?


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