Politics Continues at the Water's Edge

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Sinclair Broadcast Group has ordered its ABC affiliates to drop tonight's broadcast of Nightline, on which the names of all service members killed in Iraq will be read aloud, with accompanying photos. The markets in question include Asheville, N.C., Charleston, W.Va., Columbus, Ohio, Pensacola, Fla., Springfield, Mass., St. Louis, and Winston-Salem, N.C. "Despite the denials by a spokeswoman for the show, the action appears to be motivated by a political agenda designed to undermine the efforts of the United States in Iraq," Sinclair says in a statement.

"Just look at these people," Ted Koppel replies. "Look at their names. And look at their ages. Consider what they've done for you. Honor them. I truly believe that people will take away from this program the reflection of what they bring to it."

1. The controversy recalls the dustup over Maya Lin's Vietnam War memorial, which during its development was slammed as disrespectful to veterans (for our younger readers: In olden days, a name and rank were considered somehow less heroic than a crappy statue), and is now almost universally praised as a solemn tribute.

2. As Chuck Freund noted here the other day, the dispute over war dead is never as straightforward as pro- or anti-war folks believe. (I think Ted Koppel makes this point in his comment.)

3. The Baltimore Sun talks to somebody who's involved:

One of the names read will be that of Marine Pfc. Nolen Ryan Hutchings, who was 20 when he was killed by American bombs in Nasiriya, Iraq, on March 23, 2003. His father, Larry Hutchings of Boiling Springs, S.C., said Nightline's plan doesn't bother him at all. "I was going to watch it because my son's going to be on it," he said.

NEXT: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's Tony Blair

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  1. It’s all about playing up the casualties by the leftist, anti-war news media. Playing them up to make it seem like the number of casualites are enourmous when they’re actually quite small compared to other wars.

    At Antetium, 23,000 died in one day in one battle – and they kept right on fighting for years afterward.

  2. There are a few WWI memorials in a neighborhood in my city. The other day, I was reading over the names of our citizens who died in that war, and I soon found myself wearing a pointy helmet and beating up Belgians.

    If only the patriots as Sinclair had been there to protect me from my evil thoughts.

  3. next week, I will read the names of the 270 people who received bribes from Saddam from the Oil for Food program

    stay tuned!

  4. They’re trying to duplicate the effect of the _Life_ magazine issue that published pictures of a week’s casualties in Vietnam, which pretty much ended public support for the war. There were a _lot_ of them. ABC is taking more than a year’s worth of course.

  5. next week, I will read the names of the 270 people who received bribes from Saddam from the Oil for Food program

    That joke was stupid when Glenn Reynolds made it, and it’s still stupid now.

  6. I believe the name of the casualties being published has a long history, predating Antetium, predate even the printing press.

    I find it funny nobody decried it as ‘anti american’ or ‘anti war’ during the first 2 world wars. How about when the casualty list was displayed for days straight on the ‘news crawl’ after 9/11, did that disresepct the dead somehow as well?

    A ‘pro war’ argument could easily be made as well, since each of these soldier were hero’s remember? Honoring thier death by a public reading of thier name is a respectfull way to remember them.

    If you dont want to watch it, change the channel. Ted said it best, you will get out of it, what you put into it. If your pro war, you get reaffermation that freedom has a price, if your anti war, you get to see the waste of young life that war brings.

  7. “I believe the name of the casualties being published has a long history, predating Antetium, predate even the printing press. ”

    Really.

    And just how were they “published” before the printing press was invented?

    In any event, providing a list of names in a newspaper or other publication is not quite the same thing as devoting a big block of air time in a television program to a reading of names.

  8. “I believe the name of the casualties being published has a long history, predating Antetium, predate even the printing press. ”

    Really.

    And just how were they “published” before the printing press was invented?

    In any event, providing a list of names in a newspaper or other publication is not quite the same thing as devoting a big block of air time in a television program to a reading of names.

  9. If Nightline is being so “apolitical”, why are they only reading the names of soldiers killed in Iraq and not the ones killed in Afghanistan as well?

  10. If Nightline is being so “apolitical”, why are they only reading the names of soldiers killed in Iraq and not the ones killed in Afghanistan as well?

  11. If Nightline is being so “apolitical”, why are they only reading the names of soldiers killed in Iraq and not Afghanistan as well?

  12. Gilbert Martin,

    Though note that draft riots followed on the heels of Antietam; indeed, Antietam increased the pace of desertions in both armies.

    “And just how were they ‘published’ before the printing press was invented?”

    Any number of ways: they were chisled into blocks of stone for example – you will find that victory columns in ancient Greece had such for example.

    Apparently Gilbert you are of that school who thinks that people are naive and malleable toys of the media and cannot be trusted with information.

  13. Ron, I pity your inability to view a tribute to our war dead as anything but a political stunt. Take a step back, man.

    “providing a list of names in a newspaper or other publication is not quite the same thing as devoting a big block of air time in a television program to a reading of names.” Why?

  14. “Though note that draft riots followed on the heels of Antietam; indeed, Antietam increased the pace of desertions in both armies.”

    So what? They still had enough soldiers to keep on fighting for years afterward – years of numerous battles where each one racked up many times the number of dead and wounded than has occured in the entire Iraq war.

    “Any number of ways: they were chisled into blocks of stone for example – you will find that victory columns in ancient Greece had such for example.”

    That isn’t “publishing” pal. Publishing requires wide dissemenation of informatiion such as a deliverable newsletter or poster. Monuments and markers are only seen by those willing and/or able to travel to where they are to see them.

    “Apparently Gilbert you are of that school who thinks that people are naive and malleable toys of the media and cannot be trusted with information. ”

    The people already have the information of how many have died in Iraq – the media announces the tally every day.

    I am of the school that KNOWS it is the MEDIA who thinks that the people are their malleable toys and they are constantly trying to mold public opinion according to their own personal preferences.

    Nightline can do whatever they want on their show. Those who are criticizing what they’ve chosen to do are merely providng the public with some MORE inforomation – namenly the reason WHY Nightline is doing it – because they are trying to promote their own personal left-wing anti-war views.

  15. Gilbert Martin,

    “So what? They still had enough soldiers to keep on fighting for years afterward – years of numerous battles where each one racked up many times the number of dead and wounded than has occured in the entire Iraq war.”

    The so what is that it undercuts your fantasy-land notion that everyone in the U.S. was supportive of the Civil War.

    “That isn’t ‘publishing’ pal.”

    Yes it is.

    “Publishing requires wide dissemenation of informatiion such as a deliverable newsletter or poster. Monuments and markers are only seen by those willing and/or able to travel to where they are to see them.”

    Which would the vast majority of a population a city-state like Athens or Sparta or Thebes. Indeed, the whole point of a victory column was to disseminate propaganda about the nature of the state that created the column. They simply did not erect them for fun; they served important purposes – including the wide dissemination of information – first for those who could not read in the form of pictures, and for those that could in the form of words (such as the names of those who died in the conflict). Please, learn a little about this subject before commenting on it.

  16. Locating a carved message in a prominent place in the center of Athens would have achieved greater “audience saturation” among Athenians than Nighline achieves among Americans.

  17. Gilbert,

    It should be noted that victory columns and other similar structures were placed on crossroads and other heavily travelled areas for similar reasons; even if the battle occurred many miles away from that point (luckily battles often did occur at such cross-roads and the like since transport of armies to such locales was easiest).

  18. “The so what is that it undercuts your fantasy-land notion that everyone in the U.S. was supportive of the Civil War. ”

    Then you have no “so what” because I never said that in the first place. What I was (correctly) pointing out is that casaulty rate in that war was far higher than in the Iraq war and that fact didn’t stop the war from going on for years.

    “”That isn’t ‘publishing’ pal.””

    “Yes it is.”

    Not on your say so buster.

    “Which would the vast majority of a population a city-state like Athens or Sparta or Thebes.”

    Which still doesn’t make it “publishing”. Publishing meand the information goes to where you are – you don’t go to where it is.

    “Please, learn a little about this subject before commenting on it”

    Go learn what “publishing” is yourself, boy.

    You’re no more authority on it than I am.

  19. Sigh…

    The hawks vs. doves argument has now degenerated into a debate over the meaning of the word “publishing.” Look, forget that particular word, the issue at hand is the public dissemination of information on casualties of war. Call it publishing, or broadcasting, or advertising, or reporting, or propaganda, or any other word you want. Hell, invent a new word if you like. The point remains that public dissemination of news about casualties of war is nothing new.

    Now, as to the significance of that point, well, I’ll let the other doves battle the hawks over it. But let’s at least get away from the dictionary debate.

  20. joe,

    Yes, and note all the propaganda that can be seen in prominent locales in cities like Athens and Rome; those pretty depictions of fighting Amazons on the Parthenon were not there merely to look beautiful. Indeed, the dramatic expansion of public works under Pericles (started by Cimon) and the creation of the Acropolis compound as we think of it was related to two purposes: propaganda, and providing work for the poor.

    “All kinds of enterprises should be created which will provide an inspiration for every art, find employment for every hand… we must devote ourselves to acquiring things that will be the source of everlasting fame.” – Pericles

  21. Gilbert Martin,

    When you can come up with a principled definition of the term publishing we can have a conversation; so far all you have done is switch the definition of the term to fit your pathetic argument.

    Furthermore, even if it is not publishing, that is really beside the point; whether it is publishing or some other form of dissemination of information appears to be a distinction without meaning in other words.

    And yes I do know quite a bit more about the publication of manuscripts in the ancient world; first it was a very lucrative business; second state sponsored publications which listed the names of the dead were common; these were delivered to numerous people who ordered them (often from the markets); etc. Let’s take an example – say Virgil. He did not merely write for the state or himself; his writings were published throughout the Roman world; and this was one example of a robust publishing business in the ancient world. Indeed, the need for censorship by numerous ancient states illustrates this if anything does.

  22. “so far all you have done is switch the definition of the term to fit your pathetic argument.”

    Says you – which means nothing.

  23. Gilbert Martin,

    If that is the extent of your argument, then I suggest that you shut up soon. 🙂 Unless you enjoy embarressment that is.

  24. Jean Bart:

    I really don’t care what you suggest, boy.

    Your self-serving attempt to set yourself up as the judge/authority on the “vailidity” of arguments means nothing to me.

  25. “Now, as to the significance of that point, well, I’ll let the other doves battle the hawks over it.”

    Yeah – well I haven’t seen any “doves” explain why Nightline is only lisitng the dead from Iraq and not Afghanistan as well if they are being so “apolitcal” about it.

  26. Without my taking a position on the rest of this nonsense, one might be advised to look into the root of the word “publish” before one embarrasses oneself further.

  27. Gilbert Martin,

    “I really don’t care what you suggest, boy.”

    *chuckle*

    “Your self-serving attempt to set yourself up as the judge/authority on the ‘vailidity’ of arguments means nothing to me.”

    Apparently actually addressing an argument, that is my arguments, also means nothing to you as well. BTW, one has to ask; if my statements mean nothing to you, why do you respond to them? And as to the issue of whether I am a judge or not; well, I am a judge on the validity of arguments as I see them; if you are not the captain of your own ship, the ultimate arbiter of what you think, etc., then that is more a sad confirmation of your psychological make-up than anything.

    Main Entry: pub?lish
    Pronunciation: ‘p&-blish
    Function: verb
    Etymology: Middle English, modification of Middle French publier, from Latin publicare, from publicus public
    transitive senses
    1 a : to make generally known b : to make public announcement of
    2 a : to disseminate to the public b : to produce or release for distribution; specifically : PRINT 2c c : to issue the work of (an author)
    intransitive senses
    1 : to put out an edition
    2 : to have one’s work accepted for publication

    I would say that the victory columns message falls well within the meaning of the term “publish.”

  28. Jean Bart,

    Is Gilbert Martin real, or did you fabricate him a la “Mary Rosh”?

    BTW, Sinclair’s head (no pun intended) was just arrested for soliciting prostitutes.

  29. Anybody know the definition of “is”?

  30. Does anyone really think Teddy is doing this to honor the troops and their cause?
    People are allowed to evaluate motivation by observing other actions of the people being observed.

  31. Well, yes, that was my point, what with “public” and “publish” sharing a common root, one wonders why anyone would insist that one cannot publish without a printing press of some kind.

  32. Kevin Carson,

    Who is “Mary Rosh?”

    And he is not my invention.

  33. I would note that The News Hour with Jim Lerher[1] has been devoting a few solemn seconds to each of our honored dead as their details become availible.

    It is always a moment for quiet reflection.

    I don’t know anything about Mr. Koppel’s politics, but reciting the names of the fallen is not, a priori, disrespectful or demoralizing.

    [1] I know PBS may not be popular around Reason, but for my money, The News Hour is the best reporting on television.

  34. I’d be less suspicious about ulterior motives and waited a month. Memorial Day seems more appropriate than sweeps week.

  35. I was looking forward to watching Nightline, but unfortunately, I live in Asheville, NC, and the local ABC is owned by Sinclair. How can I trust these people to present the news if they insist on censoring something like this?

  36. I can do Gilbert Martin one better: Why isn’t Nightline broadcasting the name of every soldier every killed in every war? Clearly Nightline is being Americocentrist and epochist for only reporting American soldiers killed in a war which is currently going on. (Oh, wait, I forgot we won the war a year ago.) Also, broadcasting isn’t “publishing” — no printing press is involved — so what are you upset about?

    Jean Bart: How dare you Frenchies shame American education by spelling “Antietam” correctly when the previous posters couldn’t? You aren’t allowed to do that if you haven’t fought in the War Between the States.

    OK, I’m feeling especially ironic this morning.

  37. “People are allowed to evaluate motivation by observing other actions of the people being observed.”

    Meaning, because Koppel opposed the decisions made by the political leaders, he couldn’t possibly want to honor the troops who struggled and died as a result.

    I am genuinely sorry that the tactics of boomer war protestors was shrivelled up your soul this way, Walter.

  38. As for Maya Lin’s memorial, I’m glad you included the word “almost” in describing its acceptance. I continue to regard the Vietnam War Memorial as an afront, an architectural statement of nihilism that has unfortunately shaped many, many subsequent memorials. (Let’s dig into the ground, nearer to decay and death! Let’s list names! Let’s provide no context unless forced to! [added statue])

    That people admire, enjoy and appreciate the memorial is by and large a testament to their respect for the men and women put upon it.

    The Vietnam War Memorial has done terrible damage to our cultural perceptions of sacrifice. It’s an abomination.

  39. “I can do Gilbert Martin one better: Why isn’t Nightline broadcasting the name of every soldier every killed in every war? Clearly Nightline is being Americocentrist and epochist for only reporting American soldiers killed in a war which is currently going on.”

    Real cute:

    Troops are still in Afghanistan and are still being killed there. Nightline excluding the Afhganinstan soldiers is merely a reflection of the left wing media’s belief that Afghanistan was a “legitimate” war and Iraq was not.

  40. “Apparently actually addressing an argument, that is my arguments, also means nothing to you as well.”

    I already “addressed” it. You’re not liking my response is YOUR problem – not mine.

    ” BTW, one has to ask; if my statements mean nothing to you, why do you respond to them?”

    Amusement

    ” And as to the issue of whether I am a judge or not; well, I am a judge on the validity of arguments as I see them; ”

    Yeah?

    Well so am I.

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