Friday, November 24, 2006

Ruth's Report

Ruth: Paula Zahn Now, Stars & Stripes, Associated Press, The Philadelphia Inquirer. Are these independent media outlets?

I would argue that they are not. But in terms of war resisters within the military, that is where news consumers have had to turn. Wednesday, November 15th, CNN's Paula Zahn Now
presented an interview with Lieutenant Ehren Watada and a panel discussion of his stand and the reasons he took it. At the time, the U.S. military had announced that Lt. Watada would have pre-court-martial hearing at the start of January and the court-martial was scheduled to begin in February. Many independent media outlets, magazines and programs, have still failed to note that development.

That is especially surprising to me considering that the panel that addressed the issue: war resister Joshua Casteel, Mommy's Pantyhose, and Amy Goodman. Ms. Goodman, of course, host Democracy Now! which airs on radio, TV and online Monday through Friday. When Ms. Goodman appeared on Comedy Central, it was noted on the next Democracy Now! So it was something as a surprise that the appearance on CNN was not. While not attempting to be a nudnik or a drag, I do think it is worth noting that a silly interview on a comedy network is somehow "news" but a panel to discuss Lt. Watada is not.

The item could have been easily inserted into the headlines of Democracy Now!: "Last night, I took part in a panel discussion, which aired on CNN, on the merits of the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. Earlier, Paula Zahn interviewed Ehren Watada who has no learned that the US military has decided to court-martial him next year."

War resister Agustin Aguayo was also in the news, or some of the news, this week. The apparently counter-culture by comparison, Stars and Stripes ran an article by Leo Shane III. What was going on with Spc. Aguayo? Nothing much, to judge by the lack of coverage, his case had just made it to the DC Federal Court of Appeals. It was supposed to be the first of its kind since 1971. Were he to win, the military would have to discharge him and their attempts to court-martial him would cease.

Is it just me or does anyone else see the above stories as news stories?

Today, I read about John A. Rogowskyj, Jr. who went through the channels to be granted conscientious objector status and, as it worked it way through channels with a consensus that Marine Lance Cpl. Rogowskyj mertied c.o status until it reached the Commander of the Fourth Marine Division, D.V. Odell Jr. who, as The Philadelphia Inquirer's Edward Colimore and
the Associated Press reported, refused it on the grounds that he felt Marine Lance Cpl. Rogowskyj was "theologically confused and does not reflect any officially recognized faith group."

When I learned of it, my first thought was, "Another story that will not be covered." The story breaks on the holiday, that only increases the chances of receiving The Full Brobeck. My second thought was a line was a line from Bob Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man," "Because something is happening here, But you don't know what it is, Do you, Mister Jones?"

When I was a young woman, we would apply those lines to many -- parents, professors, fellow students who seemed desperate to enter the rat race, the corporate media, you name it. The sad reality is that today it can be applied to many in independent media as well.

[Added: Margaret Irish of Stars and Stripes explains the history of the paper in this report by Ruth.]