In the New York Times and AP stories, there is no mention at all of the first part of the general's speech. In the Washington Post report, the entire story is devoted to Sanchez's comments on the current military situation in Iraq and biographical data on the general. Only the very last paragraph of the story mentions Sanchez's comments about the media.
What the media chose not to cover was scathing indictment of their practices and philosophy in covering the war. The general said:
As all of you know I have a wide range of relationships and experiences with our nation's military writers and editors. There are some in your ranks who I consider to be the epitome of journalistic professionalism -- Joe Galloway, Thom Shanker, Sig Christensen, and John Burns immediately come to mind. They exemplify what America should demand of our journalists -- tough reporting that relies upon integrity, objectivity and fairness to give accurate and thorough accounts that strengthen our freedom of the press and in turn our democracy.The general noted that many words and phrases have been used to describe him such as "dictatorial and somewhat dense," "not a strategic thought," "liar," "doesn't get it," and "the most inexperienced LtG." Sanchez blasts the media, saying:
On the other hand, unfortunately, I have issued ultimatums to some of you for unscrupulous reporting that was solely focused on supporting your agenda and preconceived notions of what our military had done. I also refused to talk to the European Stars and Stripes for the last two years of my command in Germany for their extreme bias and single minded focus on Abu Gharaib.
In some cases I have never even met you, yet you feel qualified to make character judgments that are communicated to the world.Sanchez told the media members in the audience that "your unwillingness to accurately and prominently correct your mistakes and your agenda driven biases contribute to this corrosive environment."
My experience is not unique and we can find other examples such as the treatment of Secretary Brown during Katrina. This is the worst display of journalism imaginable by those of us that are bound by a strict value system of selfless service, honor and integrity.
Almost invariably, my perception is that the sensationalistic value of these assessments is what provided the edge that you seek for self aggrandizement or to advance your individual quest for getting on the front page with your stories! As I understand it, your measure of worth is how many front page stories you have written and unfortunately some of you will compromise your integrity and display questionable ethics as you seek to keep America informed.
This is much like the intelligence analysts whose effectiveness was measured by the number of intelligence reports he produced. For some, it seems that as long as you get a front page story there is little or no regard for the "collateral damage" you will cause. Personal reputations have no value and you report with total impunity and are rarely held accountable for unethical conduct.
Over the course of this war tactically insignificant events have become strategic defeats for America because of the tremendous power and impact of the media and by extension you the journalist. In many cases the media has unjustly destroyed the individual reputations and careers of those involved.The general made other comments about media ethics and the role of reporters, and I encourage you to read his entire speech. The media chose to only report on half of it in a blatant display of media bias. They are motivated by an agenda that seeks to destroy certain people and political entities rather than simply reporting the facts.
We realize that because of the near real time reporting environment that you face it is difficult to report accurately. In my business one of our fundamental truths is that "the first report is always wrong."
Unfortunately, in your business "the first report" gives Americans who rely on the snippets of CNN, if you will, their "truths" and perspectives on an issue. As a corollary to this deadline driven need to publish "initial impressions or observations" versus objective facts there is an additional challenge for us who are the subject of your reporting. When you assume that you are correct and on the moral high ground on a story because we have not respond to questions you provided is the ultimate arrogance and distortion of ethics.
One of your highly respected fellow journalists once told me that there are some amongst you who "feed from a pig's trough." If that is who I am dealing with then I will never respond, otherwise we will both get dirty and the pig will love it. This does not mean that your story is accurate.
With decreasing circulation of newspapers such as the New York Times and decreasing rates of cable outlets such as CNN and MSNBC, perhaps we can hit them in the bottom line. We are not looking for "pro-conservative" reporting. We are simply looking for reporting.