That’s what Susan Paynter’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer column, When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call, would have you believe. Judging by the reaction of the blogosphere, that’s what’s being believed.
Stephen Spruiell at NRO’s “Media Blog” looks into Paynter’s Post-Intelligencer column with a critical eye. As Spruiell notes, perhaps the story as told is 100% accurate, but failing to obtain the Marines side of the story is just piss poor journalism, even for a columnist. Paynter did manage to do a followup column discussing reader reaction to the first column, yet she is still mysteriously unable to contact the Marines.
Spruiell managed to easily get a hold of public affairs officer for the region who said this about contacts regarding the story:
“With regards to that, I received a call from you and MSNBC yesterday, I have worked with reporters from that publication [the Seattle Post-Intelligencer] in the past, and I have provided them with information about the Marine Corps. Did I receive a call from that reporter? No. Did my marines receive a call from that reporter? No. I can’t speculate on what she did, but I can say no query was received at this office.“
Honestly, can you recall a point during the last few years when the military has been “unavailable for comment?” I seriously doubt it. Reporters around the world don’t have trouble getting access to the US military for interviews, yet somehow columnist Susan Paynter is allowed to present the Marine’s side of the story as, “calls to the Burlington office went unanswered.”
Everyone knows there are two sides to every story, and in most cases the truth is somewhere in between. Even if you believe her first column is the god’s honest truth, you should be dismayed at journalistic dishonesty Paynter is perpetuating by failing to put even a minimal amount of effort into reporting the Marine recruiters side of the story. If you think the Post-Intelligencer owes its readers both sides of the story, Glenn Drosendahl is the Reader Representative & Assistant to the Publisher for the Post-Intelligencer.
Note: This Gallup headline – Public Confidence in Newspapers, TV News Falls to All-Time Low – seems appropriate.
Update: Stephen Spruiell has the Marines side of the story and, predictably, it differs significantly from Paynter’s retelling of the mom’s tale. Now you’ve got something to write to the P-I Reader Representative about.