This week a disturbing story emerged from Afghanistan in the form of a video of U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Afghans presumed to be members of the Taliban. Such behavior is repulsive and contrary to the standards of the Marine Corps. The acts portrayed in the video have been condemned by the highest representatives of the military.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: I have seen the footage, and I find the behavior depicted in it utterly deplorable. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey: Actions like those are not only illegal but are contrary to the values of a professional military and serve to erode the reputation of our joint force.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos: [The behavior is] wholly inconsistent with the high standards of conduct and warrior ethos that we have demonstrated throughout our history.
Nevertheless, CNN contributor Dana Loesch (who is also a Tea Party leader and the editor-in-chief of Andrew Breitbart’s BigJournalism) took to the air to exacerbate the offense and defend the soldiers saying…
“Now we have a bunch of progressives that are talking smack about our military because there were marines caught urinating on corpses, Taliban corpses. Can someone explain to me if there’s supposed to be a scandal that someone pees on the corpse of a Taliban fighter? Someone who, as part of an organization, murdered over 3,000 Americans? I’d drop trou and do it too. That’s me though. I want a million cool points for these guys.”
The subsequent controversy erupting from Loesch’s offensive remarks has generated a secondary controversy centered on the appropriate role of news analysts and the lines drawn for decency and civil discourse. Loesch, in a tacit acknowledgement that her comments crossed the line, sought to defend herself by claiming that she was not condoning the Marines, but ridiculing the media response. But the dishonesty of that excuse is apparent just by re-reading her statement. She explicitly says that she would do the same thing the Marines did and praises them for being “cool.” If that isn’t condoning the behavior, what is?
Loesch’s web site, BigJournalism has gone to work to absolve her sins, not by demonstrating that her comments were appropriate, but by attacking anyone who criticized her. They started with Politico, a news operation started by unabashed conservative journalists, and tagged them as leftists because of their article that merely reported that the controversy exists. John Nolte, editor-in-chief of Breitbart’s BigHollywood, desperately stretched to imply a bias by Politico because the article included this:
“I’ve reached out to CNN to ask for their response to Loesch’s comments, and whether or not it will have any impact on her role at CNN.” Nolte’s emphasis.
Most people would regard that as a standard inquiry in a situation where a news analyst’s big mouth got them in hot water. From there Nolte descended into an hysterical rant that accused Politico of “pushing to have Dana taken off the air or punished.” And he escalated that nonsense to claim that Politico had an even bigger agenda to “marginalize” and “silence” Loesch. The conspiracy in Nolte’s mind extended all the way to George Soros, as all conservative conspiracies do. And the entirety of this clandestine plot was drawn from Politico’s perfectly reasonable and responsible desire to get a response from CNN.
Another Breitbart hack, Dan Riehl, weighed in on the subject to accuse Media Matters of being…
“…fixated on a mission to try and silence the free speech of Big Journalism editor Dana Loesch, while also engaging upon a campaign to somehow damage her with CNN.”
Riehl’s evidence is an article by Media Matters that correctly observes that Loesch’s comments were Too Extreme For Rush Limbaugh. Riehl disputes that assessment mainly by changing the subject. He utterly ignores the fact that Limbaugh, with reference to the Marines, said explicitly that “There’s no defense of this.” But Riehl peels away from that fact to post a rambling quote from Tea Party Republican Allen West that also advocates punishing the Marines and says outright that “The Marines were wrong.” It appears that the fixation is on Riehl’s part to avoid the reality that the behavior of these particular soldiers was indefensible to almost everyone but Loesch.
As for Loesch, her own defense that she published on BigJournalism was an incoherent jumble of phony patriotism and self-aggrandizement. Her primary argument was that…
“There is a difference in advocating for the Marines to break the law, which I didn’t do, and defending them from overly-dramatic hysteria.”
Of course, defending them is precisely what she did. Even to the point of declaring that she would have “dropped trou” and joined them (which I’m sure they would have loved). Nevertheless, she contradicts herself a few paragraphs down by stating that “I won’t condemn American soldiers on the battlefield.” Not even, apparently, when they engage in condemnable acts that their commanders have no problem condemning.
The triumvirate of Loesch, Riehl, and Nolte, all touched on what they regard as an underlying evil aimed at Loesch and conservatives in general. They are convinced that any criticism they incur is an attempt to silence them. Ironically, they call for such criticism to be silenced. Conservatives believe that free speech is sacrosanct exempt when exercised by liberals. Consequently, any critique of Loesch is viewed by rightists as akin to censorship.
It is, however, perfectly appropriate to question news analysts who engage in a dialogue that advocates unlawful acts in the conduct of a war. CNN should take the responsible steps to review incidents wherein contributors bring disrepute to their network. But I don’t anticipate that they will. The current head of CNN, Ken Jautz, is the hack who gave Glenn Beck his first job on television. He also recently hired Beck associate Will Cain. These two uber-rightists share the air with CNN contributor Erick Erickson, who called former Supreme Court Justice David Souter a “goat-fucking child molester.” And it was under Jautz that CNN partnered with the corrupt AstroTurf PR firm, Tea Party Express, to host a GOP debate.
The hard-right turn that CNN has taken has landed them squarely in third place. And that decline is due in large part to people like Loesch. The American people are not looking for this kind of substanceless, bombastic, hate-speech from their news sources. They can get that from Fox News. And if anyone’s job should be in jeoprady, it is the person at the helm, Ken Jautz.