MARCH 13, 2000
CNN still flapping
© 2000

There are at least a half dozen things I could and probably should be writing about here other than the CNN/PSYOP/WorldNetDaily controversy. However, in an effort to address the hundreds of e-mails from rabid detractors who consider me a tad less reprehensible than an anthrax/VX cocktail and the hundreds of e-mailers who mistakenly think the Pulitzer committee should consider my name, I'll give it one more shot.

Both detractors and supporters are wrong.

I am both surprised and disappointed that CNN has chosen to terminate the internship program. If, as asserted by both CNN and the U.S. Army, there was nothing wrong or inappropriate with the military/civilian relationship before WorldNetDaily published anything, then there should STILL be nothing wrong with it now. CNN could have and should have told me to kiss their Georgia peach, unless or until we could prove something wrong.

One of the very few civil e-mails I have received was from an Army captain who wrote, "When CNN cut its ties with the Army (as a result of your article), it ended a program which helps provide our soldiers with knowledge and skills they need to compete. We just don't have the type of resources CNN has to educate our soldiers on state-of-the-art media development, production, and dissemination. The CNN program allowed our soldiers to see, up front, how the media works."

CNN's knee-jerk termination of the internship program, some have suggested, may be both a blessing and a curse. The captain's comment about soldiers being able to see "up front, how the media works," is a loss of arguable proportions. Frankly, I would hope our military PSYOP community would do a much better job than the media model of CNN. However, the "lessons learned" from media mingling could have proved valuable if only to demonstrate how not to do certain things.

Military leadership and training has been, is, and probably will continue to be superior to what is routinely seen at media monsters.

Since there appears to be an organized flame war designed and implemented to harass, undermine, vilify, and tarnish yours truly, I hereby state the following (and if necessary will do so under sworn oath):

  1. I have no agenda
  2. I have, do, and will report and comment on WHAT I find
  3. Regardless of WHO looks good or bad
  4. My focus always has and always will be, "It is not a question of WHO is right or wrong, but WHAT is right or wrong" (albeit, in MY opinion)
  5. I will continue to do my best to consider facts, which contradict my pre-conceived opinion despite prejudices
  6. I am fallible and will be wrong
  7. I will acknowledge my faults and will not make excuses or try to mitigate errors
  8. I will remain an equal-opportunity offender
  9. I cannot and will not be intimidated
  10. Opinions are like intimate body parts ... we all have them



WorldNetDaily did a superb job of reporting the "Tailwind" clusterbuster CNN suffered last year. Some media gadflies have suggested CNN offered the PSYOP internships as penance for past sins to the military. Some of the same muckraking wags opine the WorldNetDaily piece was a convenient excuse to terminate a program Atlanta never was comfortable with in the first place. I have no idea how, where, who, or why CNN decides anything. However, for them to cancel a reportedly benign program over what they claim is a scurrilous story is bogus.

Permit me to share with you the last paragraph of what the Army PSYOP captain wrote to me. His letter, beyond the hundreds received, was unique not only for its civility, but also for its insight and content. "In the end, what you considered an unimportant report has had consequences far beyond what you may have intended. I don't know what your agenda was and/or is, but frankly, I don't care. All I know is that a great training opportunity for our soldiers has come to an abrupt halt. With the pervasiveness of information systems, technologies, and networks, we as PSYOPers need to learn all we can about state-of-the-art techniques, procedures, and equipment. Unfortunately, your article led those in charge at CNN to end association with the Army, and our program. In the end, not only will our soldiers not receive valuable experience; the Army, and the nation will be deprived of skills needed to counter adversaries such as Slobodan Milosevic. This, sir, is the biggest tragedy of all."

I most sincerely hope and pray that the military PSYOP community will continue to seek and find any and all training opportunities that will enhance their combat effectiveness. Perhaps they will find such opportunities in advertising and marketing companies or in the cutting edge dot-com arena. Edward Albee once wrote, "... what is gained is loss." MSG Magwood once said, "... if you lose something ... get something else."

Although few in the small PSYOP community may choose to believe it, I have a high regard for challenges and the importance of what they do and how they do it. If they direct their demonstrated talents and skills at Saddam Hussein with the same intensity they have focused on me, we can expect to read about his inevitable ouster as the bad man of Bagdhad.

"It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat." I carry that Teddy Roosevelt quote in my wallet as homage to a very special soldier. It strikes me as odd that those words are so applicable to both villain and victims of this CNN/PSYOP flap.