Fake Journalism from the CSM

Brad Knickerbocker, described as a “staff writer” for the Christian Science Monitor, weighed in today with a heavily-slanted piece reporting that morale in the US military has tanked. Knickerbocker’s piece, full of suggestive but unsubstantiated phrases like,

While some don’t see much defiance – and, in fact, have been surprised by the depth of solidarity – others see an unusual amount of tension surfacing for an all-volunteer military force.

He continues with the following startling charge:

Evidence includes numbers of deserters (reportedly in the thousands)

Unfortunately for his readers, Knickerbocker didn’t provide any context or sourcing for the “thousands of deserters” statement. Fortunately for us, Pamela Hess, UPI’s Pentagon correspondent, did some actual (and serendipitous) reporting on the subject today:

The number of annual military desertions is down to the lowest level since before 2001, according to the Pentagon.

The Army said the number of new deserters in 2004 — 2,376 — was just half the number of those who deserted prior to Sept. 11, 2001. That number was 4,597.

The numbers of deserters has dropped annually since the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The fiscal year 2004 total number of Army deserters is the lowest since before 1998, according to Army data.

Advantage: Hess! Caught committing slanted and dishonest “journalism”: Knickerbocker!

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38 Responses to “Fake Journalism from the CSM”

  1. LeatherPenguin Says:

    UPI 1, CSM 0

    Will Collier over at VodkaPundit highlights a reporter at the Christian Science Monitor’s half-assed attempt to portray morale among soldiers in Iraq as a deepenening morass of desertion, then points out a UPI Pentagon reporterbabe’s shredding of t…

  2. Will Allen Says:

    When I read the CSM piece, I noted so many red herrings that I concluded that there had been a mass mutation among fish fated for brining. An obvious crock. To paraphrase William F. Buckley, I’d rather get my news fron the first hundred names in the D.C. phonebook than from the Washington Press Corps.

  3. David Says:

    I e-mailed the editors, along with Knickerbocker and let them know how many lies were in his little story. Think they will start a “CBS” investigation?

    Nawwwwwwwwwwwww

  4. SpinDaddy Says:

    Gee, wonder which one we should believe? It’s all so confusing.
    -Spin

  5. Rip & Read Blogger Podcast Says:

    Rip & Read Blog Podcast for December 17, 2004

    Here’s what I ripped and read today:

    Oh, That Liberal Media at Work

    Will Collier at VodkaPundit compared a report in the Christian Science Monitor with one from the UPI and had this to say:

    Brad Knickerbocker, described as a “staff write…

  6. Media in Trouble: All the News That's UNfit to Print Says:

    Why Beinhart, bloggers and libs are on wrong path

    It was bound to happen. Whilst Democrats began wondering where to go, what to do, pragmatic liberals would soon follow suit. Peter Beinhart should be fired from his post as Editor In Chief at one of the oldest bastions of liberal journalism, The New …

  7. David Says:

    Well, if it were me, I would believe the DOD figures since the number of deserters would be available thru a Freedom of Information Act request. I am sure the media would have access to them even without that.

    “On average the number of soldiers, for example, who are classified as deserters is less than 1 percent, and the vast majority have committed some criminal act,” said Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Joe Richard. “It’s (generally) not for political or conscientious objector purposes. Any insinuation that large numbers of military service members have deserted in opposition to the war in Iraq when in fact desertion numbers for the Army are down since 9/11 is incredibly disingenuous.”

    The fact is Knickerbocker’s use of the word “thousands” was meant to give the impression that there were many more than the 2,000 or so that really deserted – and furthermore his whole article was designed to give the uninformed reader the impression that the war was THE reason for the desertions. Both are wrong.

    This guy was slapped down by Hess and I can only hope he feels it.

  8. The Shape of Days Says:

    About that style book

    My friend the as-yet-unnamed publisher of Pegasus News posted something on the venture’s blog a couple of days ago that he called “The first entry in the Pegasus stylebook.” There’s lots of important stuff there, but I’d love it if

  9. jmaster Says:

    But its got the word “Christian” in its title.

    It has to be true, right?

  10. Bunker Mulligan Says:

    Wrong Conclusions

    The Christian Science Monitor carries a story regarding “The pattern of discontent in US ranks.” Brad Knickerbocker finds all kinds of things wrong, and suggests that military personnel are disgruntled. He finds support:But they also note a growing t…

  11. Pappy Says:

    Nah. The ‘heavy’ in the title is ‘Science’.

  12. David Says:

    I don’t think the words “Christian Science” mean what you think they mean, jmaster.

    Thinking everyone who calls themselves Christian is the same is a common mistake now though.

    Shades of the earlier Princess Bride thread – my apologies!

  13. Yippee-Ki-Yay! Says:

    It's a Hoedown!

    Everyone on my blogroll is invited (and almost all of them show up)!

  14. William Young Says:

    Well, this is just part of the new MSM paradigm when it comes to news reporting:

    Fake, but accurate…

  15. Evan Says:

    Feculent Lying Weasels: The truth of it is that the level of desertions now is ‘thousands’. Prior to 9/11? ‘thousands and thousands’….

    So, is Stephen dead?

  16. EagleSpeak Says:

    Desertion Rate Math

    Well, call me late to the party. Will Collier over at Vodka Pundit was all over this yesterday and even has Pentagon figures…

  17. SMSgt Mac Says:

    The ‘alarming’ article was stuck in my face at work (by an alright guy except for his tendency to cling to the DNC) and I thought it stunk up the page. I Googled Mr Knickerbocker and he stunk up the computer. His tilt is obvious just by reviewing his recent writings, but his Bio posted at: http://www.cunepress.com/cunepress/booksonline/essays/etg/etg-pages/e-q/knickerbocker.htm#profile was really telling. Here’s an excerpt:

    Place of residence: Ashland, Oregon.
    Birthplace: Muskegon, Michigan.
    Grew up in: Delmar, New York.
    Day job: Staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor.
    Education: B.A. in English, Hobart College, Geneva, New York (1964). Master

  18. SFC Ski Says:

    IT is a shame that the CSM is letting its rep be brought down like this.

    The author,having no military experience, is probably also conflating desertions with Absent WithOut Leave (AWOL). AWOL is less than 30 days of not reporting for duty, desertion is any period longer. 30 days is a long time for a servicemember to ponder just how much he or she is ruining their future, and more than a few return voluntarily to face lesser charges, better than long prison stretches in Leavenworth for desertion if caught.
    With the war closing its second full year, most soldiers who would leave have, those that remain are likely to remain for the duration.

    In any case, I’d hardly call 1 percent a high ratio. Given a major corporation of similar size to the DOD, there are probably more people on sick leave.

  19. Paul Says:

    One wonders about what and whom to believe. Everyone seems to have an agenda today!

  20. RGL Says:

    A lot of us got stunned when we read that same CSM article; then we found out the truth.

    The words CS ought not to deceive us. The paper is neither one of those.

    Is it too much to ask the CSM editor to look into Knickerbocker stories the same way the NY Times did with Jayson Blair?

    The only good thing, if any, is the CSM is a third-tier publication.

  21. Lynxx Pherrett Says:

    SFC Ski,

    There is no 30-day rule in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

    Desertion

    Guide Note: The offense of Desertion, under Article 85, carries a much greater punishment, than the offense of AWOL, under Article 86. Many people believe that if one is absent without authority for greater than 30 days, the offense changes from AWOL to Desertion, but that’s not quite true.

    The primary difference between the two offenses is “intent to remain away permanently.” If one intends to return to “military control,” one is guilty of “AWOL,” under Article 86, not Desertion, under Article 85, even if they were away for ten years. The confusion derives from the fact that, if a member is absent without authority for longer than 30 days, the government (court-martial) is allowed to assume there was no intent to return. Therefore, the burden of proof that the accused intended to someday return to “military control” lies with the defense.

    A person who is absent for just a day or two, then apprehended, could still be charged with the offense of Desertion, but the prosecution would have to show evidence that the accused intended to remain away permanently.

    The above is a peacetime rule of thumb based on Article 85(a)(1). Article 85(a)(2) is an immediately chargable desertion that applies to those who refuse to go on any hazardous or important mission.

    Article 85 – Desertion

    (a) Any member of the armed forces who

  22. David Says:

    It is true that AWOL does not legally “convert” to desertion at 31 days, but that is the normal threshold that the military uses for making the charge – at least in peacetime.

  23. Aakash Says:

    I don’t know about this particular article, but the CS Monitor has had some great reporting on foreign policy in recent years.

    So has, for that matter, UPI (which is cited in this entry).

    But the thing is – You don’t need an article here, and an article there, to let you know how the morale situation has been for our troops in Iraq, since around the summer of 2003.

    I just saw on the news a story about how one soldier had a family member actually shoot him so that he could avoid having to go back to Iraq. There is a great deal of angst about these situations within the Army National Guard, and they have recently had to triple salary bonuses to combat the problems caused by the Iraq war and by the Pentagon’s treatment of our service members.

    These are some of the same problems that marked the Clinton administration’s foreign policy – it is a natural consequence of liberal internationalism.

    Even those who supported the Iraq war have been very critical of the Pentagon’s handling of this situation, and have urged that changes be made to improve things for our brave and heroic service members who have been called to serve in this operation. It is no wonder that leading Republicans are now calling for Rummy to go. (Actually, this isn’t a new thing; many Republicans have been having problems with the SecDef for awhile – as have our military leaders.)

    The editors of the American Conservative Union‘s publication, Conservative Battleline, endorsed President Bush prior to the November elections. In that issue, they listed, as their main reason for conservatives to back the re-election of President Bush, as their belief that he would be likely to withdraw our troops from Iraq before Kerry would. This makes sense.

    Hopefully, President Bush will return to the conservative foreign policy platform upon which he was originally elected.

  24. David Says:

    One cowardly, and more than a little stupid, soldier does not represent the “angst” of all those serving in Iraq.

    And there are plenty of reports of good morale from Iraq – although the main stream media (MSM) never reports them. Frustration, weariness, homesickness, and the normal fear associated with combat do not automatically equate to “bad morale” anyway. Troops can be unhappy with their situation and STILL have the drive and dedication to complete the mission. Trust in leadership, training, professionalism, the camaraderie of arms, and the support of the folks back home keeps their morale high no matter how bad things get.

    And frankly, it doesn’t bother me that our soldiers want more money to stay in now. We have always underpaid them, and what employee doesn’t want more money when the job gets more difficult? So we should quit attaching political motivations to their need for more money and simply pay them what they are worth.

    The war on terror is much larger than any conservative or liberal foreign policy — it is simply something we have to do. One can argue that Iraq was not necessary to this goal, although I disagree, but now that we are here, we must do it right, and that means free elections and whatever we can do to help democracy live there.

    So, yes, the Pentagon could have done better after the initial assault (which was damn near perfect), and yes, we need to get our troops home as soon as possible.

    But the lies of the likes of Knickerbocker do not help anyone — much less our troops — in fact they only tarnish their reputation and hurt their morale.

  25. David Says:

    I’ve re-read the original CSM piece and I have decided that “lies” may not be the best word – perhaps Will’s “slanted and dishonest” description is more accurate. Certainly it covers a wider range of journalistic sins.

    Either way, the story stinks like week-old mackerel.

  26. David Says:

    Dear Mr. Rougy:

    1) No one said everything was going great over there — only that everything is NOT going bad over there.

    2) There are PLENTY of “us” that have gone over there — and plenty of “us” that are over there now.

    3) The Nazi label is such a convincing debate tactic — always guaranteed to win over the hearts and minds of those who disagree with you.

    4) Do you kiss your Mom with that mouth?

  27. David Says:

    Awwww, Will deleted rougy’s comment – and I had so looked forward to another intellectual post on his part – LOL!

    Merry Christmas

  28. carl weathers Says:

    your numbers from the pentagon? Same place that said terrorism was cut in half last year and then (OOPS!) admitted weeks later it had actually doubled. Keep quoting the pentagon and I’ll keep quoting Dan Rather, you hack.

    And BTW, the red/blue map you so proudly display is about as intellectually honest as Sean Hannity. How about posting the population-wieghted map so we can see how purple America really is. Or would that go against the 3% mandate?

    You FUCKING HACKS!

  29. David Says:

    Since the last guy who used this choice curse word in a post got deleted – deservingly so I might add – I am going to quote him in part here so he as something to read when he comes back.

    Carl Weathers (Interesting choice of a pseudonym – must be a Rocky fan) posts in part . . .

    “And BTW, the red/blue map you so proudly display is about as intellectually honest as Sean Hannity. How about posting the population-wieghted map so we can see how purple America really is. Or would that go against the 3% mandate.”

    That purple has more red in it than blue no matter how you paint the country, son. Get used to it.

  30. utron Says:

    My local dead-tree paper carried the CSM story on the front page, part of their ongoing campaign to take down the Prez, pull out of Iraq, and generally recapitulate the Carter Administration.

    The frightening thing is that only a year or so ago, I read that rag every day and thought that I was well informed.

  31. Texas Gamecock Says:

    Greetings from Austin,
    I’ve been reading this site for the past few months, and I am really impressed by the collective wisdom y’all have.
    So, I have a question for you, one that’s been bothering me since Nov 3rd and one of the previous postings brought it up again for me:
    Why are people who voted for Bush supposed to see the country in “purple” and not talk about the election results? Folks who picked Kerry seem to have complete freedom to trash those who voted for Bush and they very OBVIOUSLY see the country in terms of blue and red states.
    Last I checked, everyone who voted was legally an “adult”…I kind of expected a more “adult” response…like dealing with the reality of the election, and working to select a more viable candidate next time.
    Anyway, if anyone can explain this to me, I would greatly appreciate it. People I have talked to just chalk it up to being sore loosers…I’m hoping that there is more to the Democrats response than that.

  32. Robin Roberts Says:

    Carl, if you want to sneer at someone, check to see that your cluebag isn’t empty first. The organization that revised terrorism figures was the State Department – not the Pentagon.

    Grow up, Carl.

  33. carl weathers Says:

    Ouch! So your figures must be true! Let me go fill up my clue bag… Should I empty my stupdi bag? Perhaps I should put on my research hat? Blah blah blah…

    Anyways, as the lone moderate visiting this site, let me interrupt the circle-jerk of intellectual dishonesty to answer the quesiton posed by the Texas Gamecock.

    One of the reasons we bring up the electoral map and how it flasely paints America as uber-conservative, is that those on the other side use the wide swaths of red to justify their “mandate.” Instead of allowing ourselves to be pushed around due to some garbage stat, we point out that the “mandate” is due to a whopping 3% popular victory or one swing state. So the PEOPLE of America- as demonstrated by the population-weighted maps- are split right down the middle.

    When Sean Hannity holds up a county-by-county red blue map that shows almost entirely red, it says “let’s reward landowners,” not “America is uber-conservative.” But guess which way he paints the picture, in spite of the narrow 3% popular margin. 56 million people voted the other way to your 59 million, that’s NOT A MANDATE. And the weighted maps reflect that a hell of a lot more accurately. There is the “Purple” version, and there is the “State by state Population-weighted” version, both of which reflect the 3% margin accurately.

    I challenge this prop-page to display either one underneath the state-by-state map. I won’t hold my breath.

  34. Rocky Balboa Says:

    Hey Apollo Creed,

    I guess the votes of us un-enlightened Gun Toting, Copenhagen Chewing, Bible Thumping Red Necks in Fly Over Country don’t count as much as you Big City elites!?!?

    When you look at State, Local and National election results the Republicans overwhelmed the Democrats; Period!

    You can piss and moan about “Mandates” and spin that word any way you like from both sides, but the fact remains Bush won against all odds and the Dem’s put up a lame hack.

    Call it Red, call it Purple, hell call it Pink, but until you and your ilk pull your heads out it’s going to be a long four years and beyond…

  35. the UNPOPULIST Says:

    I know “deception” seems the most appropriate charge on the face of it, but “ineptitude” is a real contender as well. Experience shows that most reporters are not only over-eager closet idealogues, but raging incompetents as well. In military matters they almowst never know what they’re saying. This is criminal–and this example is criminal–but not JUST a case of deceit, probably.

  36. David Says:

    Carl? A moderate? Puhlease! You would have a better chance of convincing people that the ACLU cares about EVERYONE’s civil rights than convincing anyone that you are a moderate. Based on your two posts that is like saying CBS is objective – bwaaaaaaaa!

    My guess is you have a reserved parking space over at the Democratic Underground.

    As noted above, the Dems got their collective butts kicked in virtually every election that mattered, and if you measure a mandate by controling the House, the Senate, and the Presidency (not to mention all those state and local elections that went to the GOP) then a mandate is what Bush has.

    I think you are protesting this mandate business a little too much – sounds like you are worried to me.

    Adriannnnnnn! Adriannnnnn!

  37. David Says:

    Mr. Unpopulist:

    You are so right. Does anyone recall that infamous press conference during the 1991 Iraq War where General Swartzcoff slapped down a reporter for asking some moronic question about clearing mind fields – something to the effect of “Is this dangerous work?” Duhhhhhhh!

    I don’t know whether the reporters are just ignorant of all things military or if they think that the American public is just so stupid that they have to ask every question no matter how obvious the answer might be.

    Sad to say it is probably little of both . . .

  38. Texas Gamecock Says:

    Actually, I find the purple map reassuring. If you go just by the red and blue states, it DEFINITELY has a “them” against “us” feeling.
    Since I live in a red state, I know that there is a mix of views here…no matter how the votes went in November.
    What I didn’t know (until I saw the county maps) was that the opinions of New York and California etc were very mixed too. I guess, in retrospect, that I should have assumed that. However, all I have heard from those states is slander and snobbery towards those of us who aren’t “privileged” enough to live there…the whole “gun-toting, incestuous, redneck bumpkin” thing.
    That common thread of “Red Staters are ignorant slobs who voted for Bush because their Uncle Daddy told them to” is actually what I was talking about. If people who voted for Bush talk about the election results in a positive tone, they are slammed for being sore winners etc. Conversely, people who voted against Bush seem to have complete license to slander people who live in states or individuals that swayed towards Bush. Are Democrats (on the whole) sore losers, or am I missing something??

    Also, I’d like to mention that this is the first time I have voted for a Republican President

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