MONDAY’S LETTERS: Anti-Coulter Push Not ‘Censorship,’ Colonel’s Suicide, The Press Focus on Plame’s Wardrobe

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By: E&P Staff

In today’s letters, a question of whether a campaign against Ann Coulter is pre-“censorship,” thoughts on Greg Mitchell’s column about how coverage of the Plame hearings focused on what she was wearing, and thoughts on the suicide of an American colonel in Iraq.

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Anti-Coulter Campaign Not ‘Censorship’

I cringe when I see a columnist of Ted Rall’s influence describe as “censorhip” a citizen group’s efforts to use their influence to diminish support for a member of the media using their platform to espouse homophobic, racist, anti-Semitic or other equally offensive language.

Censorship is something that a government exercises. What the Human Rights Campaign and other GLBT groups — and our allies — are engaged in with regard to notorious homophobe Anne Coulter is using our considerable numbers and energies to call attention to her offensive speech and encouraging newspapers to make a responsible choice.

His description of “faggot” as “only a word” is like saying the Empire State Building is just a building on an island. Newspapers and media in general have been complicit in furthering homophobia in America for generations, in the same ways they were once complicit in furthering racism, anti-women attitudes and discrimination against other marginalized groups. We are going through a period in America where media are beginning to wake up to their sorry history with regard gays, lesbians, bisexuals and trans folk, and actions such as the current campaign against Ann Coulter are part of a concentrated effort to let editors and publishers know we won’t accept second-class, discriminatory treatment any further.

Rall may think it’s perfectly OK for Coulter or her ilk to have column space in daily newspapers. I and many tens of thousands of other readers like me believe I’m not obligated to support media who feel that publishing the work of hateful homophobic jerks is acceptable. Apparently, a growing number of newspapers understand that and are giving Coulter the hook. I say good for them.

Note, please, that neither the HRC nor other leading gay groups have called for papers to drop writers who simply oppose our forward progress. Sean Hannity, Cal Thomas, William F. Buckley, George Will, etc., etc., etc., manage to articulate their view without stooping to the depths that Coulter has. Clearly, there are standards in this business that responsible folk adhere to, standards that routinely disregards.

As a SPJ award-winning journalist and former editorial writer, I’m a strong First Amendment supporter and appreciate the breadth of its protections. But no one owes Coulter a platform; that privelege is hers to earn, and she has demonstrated that she neither understands that distinction nor deserves the op/ed space that some 100 newspapers have given her.

I encourage your members who are still carrying her work to rethink their positions and to think about the unacceptable message that publishing Coulter sends to their readers.

Todd Simmons
Equality Network
Eugene, Ore.

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Re: White House Security Chief Reveals — No Probe of Plame Leak There

The WH Office of Security didn’t conduct an investigation or inquiry, according to the current head of WH Office of Security, James Knodell.

Two or three Representatives at Waxman’s hearing referred to Scott McClellan as saying: “We have no information [re the leak].” One Representative referred to the President as saying he was investigating and would get to the bottom of it.

What was NOT spoken of was that Scott McClellan said at a press conference that Rove was not involved and that HE, McClellan, had asked him if he was the leaker. Later, he said that Libby was not involved.

Was Scott McClellan the President’s “investigator?” He certainly conducted an “inquiry” of sorts.

Why is no one asking if McClellan made inquiries on his own, or if he was directed to ask questions (or, alternatively, to NOT ask questions) about the leak, and if he was directed or charged to ask questions, by whom? Why is no one asking him if he inquired of others about their involvement? Why is no one asking him exactly what questions he asked of whom?

J.W. Flenner
Asheville, N.C.

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On a Colonel’s Suicide

What’s the likelihood that this story gets aired on, say, “60 Minutes”? This is so very important for more Americans to hear and understand. Thank you for your work and efforts to provide a more complete picture. The ideals of Ted Westhusing are the ideals of service to country that I can endorse. We should not be expending energy and resources to promote war before promoting the honorable pursuit of peace. THAT is a truly noble example to the world that we seem to have lost long ago and which erodes our credibility as a real world leader.

Jane Armstrong



Thank you for writing the great article on what happened to Col. Ted Westhusing. …

Your article was well written and helps get the word out on what’s been taking place for a very long time in the military and with contractors. It won’t changed the world, or bring full closure to Col Tel Westhusing’s family. However, it hopefully will open up the eyes of those in charge, that they better get back to doing what’s right and let such things as integrity, honor, and commitment mean something again.

Joseph Zarek



Thanks for the good piece on Robert Bryce and Petraeus and Fil.

Best regards,

Ray McGovern
VIPS

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Thoughts on Greg Mitchell’s Column and the Plame Hearings

Thank you for writing the column criticizng coverage of Congressman Waxman’s hearings into the plame case. The media’s hostility to this story is grating and upsetting. I think it all boils down to anger over the fact that reporters were forced to testify. For goodness sake! They always would have to testify in a criminal case like this. If they make themselves conduits as they did in the plame case–or as some did–they have to pay the price. Far too cozy a relationship. I was in law school in DC during Watergate. My classmates worked for Senator Ervin, some of them dated either Woodward or Bernstein. They did us proud then. The Libby case testimonyt shows something entirely different going on.

Marty Ann Haines



I wish to thank you wholeheartedly for your attempt to draw attention to what should have been bombshell testimony from Mr. Knodell. I have been following this case avidly and I can not tell you how dismaying it has been to read the various dispatches . As you note, most articles seem to only deal with the glamorous image of Ms. Plame. I understand — she is a very pretty woman. If journalists wanted to dwell for a paragraph or so on her appearance — fine. But for reporters to dwell exclusively on such petty details and miss a rather shattering news story is, quite frankly, unforgivable.

I know you receive many emails trumpeting the death of MSM. I am not one of those critics. I devour 2-3 newspapers a day as well as checking out the websites of the LA Times, BBC News, The Washington Post and Newsweek. I love journalism and I respect journalists because I think that it is a profession that is a noble calling. A free, curious and engaged press is vital in a democracy because it acts as a safeguard against abuses of power. Having firmly established myself as a fan, I have to tell you how heartbreaking the coverage of the Plame case has been.

From start to finish, it has been one disillusioning look at the world of the Washington news media. The stench of incurious complacency is overwhelming. No one seems capable of asking for verification of assertions but rather rely on talking points. Evidently (I say evidently because I could find very little mention of this in the press so I am uncertain of exactly when she testified) on the same day as Mr. Knodell’s and Ms. Plame’s testimony, Victoria Toensing testified that she had neither asked Valerie Plame OR the CIA if Ms. Plame was classified as a covert operative — rather Ms. Toensing just made up her mind that Ms. Plame was not a covert agent and went on numerous talk shows spouting this made up drivel for 2 years . Now,I know full well that Ms. Toensing is an political operative,but she was presented as an expert. Did any journalist ever press her on how she had reached such a conclusion? To see investigation replaced with passivity is very disturbing.

Darcy Elliott



Thank you and God bless you for writing about the media coverage of Plame’s fashion sense. I did see James Knodell be questioned and his answer was glaring.

Candy Neville
Eugene, Ore.



It’s sad indeed the lack of real “reporting” done on the Plame “affair”. Instead of real reporting we get the biased and slanted AP coverage titled “Plame says Bush administration treated her identity ‘recklessly’ “.

A real reporter might want to start with: When Ms Plame claimed she had no role in sending her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, on a fact-finding trip to Niger was she testifying “under oath?”

If the answer is yes then a real reporter might wonder if this contradicts the exhaustive Senate Intelligence Committee report on pre-war intelligence about Iraq. The committee looked closely at the genesis of the Wilson visit. The 2004 report clearly notes that some officials at the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) of the CIA “could not recall how the office decided to contact the former ambassador [Wilson].” But it states unequivocally that “interviews and documents provided to the committee indicate that his wife, a CPD employee, suggested his name for the trip.” In particular, the CPD reports-officer told the Senate committee “that the former ambassador’s wife ‘offered up his name.'”

In addition a real reporter might find the same memo that the Senate committee obtained addressed to the deputy chief of the CPD from Plame herself, in which Ms Plame wrote: “my husband has good relations with both the Prime Minister and the former Minister of Mines, both of whom could possibly shed light” on Iraqi uranium purchases. Hmmmmm

If a “real reporter” were to dig a little deeper he or she might find that the Senate report goes on to say that Plame also approached her husband “on behalf of the CIA and told him ‘there’s this crazy report’ on a purported deal for Niger to sell uranium to Iraq.”

But I don’t think we are going to see this level or type of reporting in the Tribune or the (LA) Times as I suspect it’s cheaper to just “buy” whatever news that the much trusted and revered AP is presenting as “reporting”.

Bob Crossman
Encinitas, Calif.

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