On March 31 David Crary of the Associated Press covered the release of the Flag & General Officers for the Military statement in support of Section 654, Title 10, the law regarding homosexuals in the military. Among other things, AP reported that more than 1,050 retired flag and general officers had signed the open letter, which was delivered to the White House, Congress and the Pentagon on that day. The story made the Washington Post (online only), Washington Times, Newsday, Miami Herald, and many more newspapers nationwide. The Gannet-owned Military Times, however, let down their many active duty readers by burying the story in two sentences surrounded by statements from advocates of gays in the military. This treatment contrasts with the coverage usually given to the smallest story generated by activists who are determined to repeal the 1993 law.
The April 13 Military Times story by William H. McMichael mentions the 1,000+ retired flag officers in two sentences, but does not provide information about the distinguished signers, 47 of whom achieved four-star rank in all branches of the service. Nor did the article provide information that would help readers to locate the Flag & General Officers for the Military website, which provides background on what the retired military leaders said, and why.
Military Times also ran this week an unquestioning endorsement/review of a polemic book authored by Nathaniel Frank of the activist Palm Center, formerly known as the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. The book reportedly attempts to revise the legislative history of the 1993 law and disregards the harmful consequences of its repeal. Given this treatment of the Frank book, a more prominent placement of the Flag & General Officers for the Military story would seem in order. The editorial position of the Military Times supports repeal of the 1993 law, but in view of its annual polls of its active-duty subscribers solidly rejecting that position (for four years running), journalistic responsibility requires more balanced and informative coverage on the consequences of repealing the 1993 law.
CMR is grateful to the more than 1,000 distinguished retired officers, among them former service chiefs and combatant command leaders, who have stepped forward to defend sound principles and policies for the All-Volunteer force.
Defense and foreign policy commentator and President of the Center for Security Policy Frank Gaffney explained the significance of this in an April 1 NewsMax.com article titled, "Former Officers Rally Against Gays in Military." In the face of conventional wisdom that repeal of the law is simply a matter of time, the former military leaders who lent support to the Flag & General Officers for the Military project have rallied to our nation's cause with nothing to gain for themselves. Their unequivocal support for sound policy and a law designed to protect military morale and readiness could and should turn the tide of the entire debate.
Active duty men and women and civilians who care about the military expect the media-particularly newspapers specifically devoted to coverage of military news--to take note and report stories such as this. Active duty people also expect their elected and current military leaders to pay attention and to defend the culture of the armed forces, on which our national security depends.