As Dana Priest collects bouquets for her selfless reporting on the outpatient treatment at Walter Reed, Howards Kurtz reveals a little too much about Ms. Priest's motivation.
Kurtz' Media Notes column starts out:
"To the Army's public affairs chief, it was simply an effort to 'get the facts out from our perspective.'
To Dana Priest, who covers national security for The Washington Post, it was a case of Army officials 'shooting themselves in the foot, because reporters are not going to trust them.'"
Ummm, because, you know, the reporters have always blindly trusted them before.
"The Post last week gave the Army six days to respond to the paper's investigation into decaying, cockroach-infested facilities and an overwhelmed patient-care bureaucracy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Northwest Washington. The Army's public affairs office used the time to summon journalists from other news organizations to a briefing at which Walter Reed's commander responded to the findings -- in an article that had not yet been published." ...snip...
"When journalists seek a response from a government agency on a pending story, there is generally an understanding that the information will not be shared with rival news outlets before publication. Such unspoken agreements, however, are hardly iron-clad. Treasury Department officials last year gave the Wall Street Journal declassified information about a secret program to track the banking records of terror suspects after failing to persuade the New York Times to kill a planned story on the subject." ...snip...
I see. It's not really about the troops. It's about scooping the competition.
Priest, who reported the two-part series with Anne Hull, says she told an Army public affairs officer this week: "How do you think this is going to affect our relationship? Do you think I'm going to be willing next time to give you that much time to respond, if you're going to turn around and tell my competitors?" ...snip...
Not to mention that Priest sat on the story for four months and allowed untold numbers of soldiers to suffer untold misery. She and Hull kept this secret from not only her competitors, but also Congress, and anyone within the military system who could have addressed the situation. She and the WaPo chose to cause the most embarassment possible by plunking this on page A1 right during the most sensitive debates we've had yet in Congress and in the streets of America over the war.
"As for Weightman's complaint that the paper should have notified the Army of its conclusions earlier in the process, Priest called that 'ridiculous,' saying: 'You find wrongdoing and you don't report it to the public first? You report it to them first? That's not our role.'"
That's right, Dana. I guess in your world, it's your role to scoop the competition. Let someone else worry about the troops.