Sunday, December 02, 2012

Editorial: Did the AP forget journalism?

One of the biggest surprises about the pre-trail of alleged whistle blower Bradley Manning was how eager some in the press was to ignore the political prisoner and provide cover for a government that has held Bradley for 923 days despite the fact that he's still not been found guilty of a single crime.


There are a few basics in journalism.  They include that reporting is not opinion, reporting is fact.  And, when evaluating information that requires special knowledge, reporters seek out those with special knowledge.

AP decided to forgo that last week during the pre-trial of Bradley Manning:

His pretrial testimony appeared to support the military's argument that it was trying to protect Manning from harming himself by keeping him in strict isolation, taking away his clothes and shakling him when he was outside his cell.

Is that what it appeared?

To whom?

To the medical practitioners of the Associated Press?

We weren't aware that AP now required a double major (journalism and medical degree) of its correspondents or that the AMA and AP had merged to form the AMAAP.

It was as if there weren't public concerns about the treatment of Bradley Manning already in the public record.  AFP reminded everyone last week,  "A UN rapporteur on torture concluded Manning was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment at the Quantico brig." And along with that public concern, the week saw medical professionals give testimony -- testimony AP ignored when reaching their own 'medical finding.'

RT reported that the navy doctor who the government had charged with evaluating Bradley testified Wednesday.  Capt William Hoctor stated, "I had been a senior medical officer for 24 years at the time, and I had never experienced anything like this.  It was clear to me they had made up their mind on a certain cause of action, and my recommendations had no impact."  Larry Shaughnessy (CNN) adds, "But Capt. William Hocter said his regular recommendations to ease Manning's heightened confinement status within weeks of his arrival in Virginia were not acted upon by commanders."  BBC News continues, "Pte Manning's glasses were confiscated, he had to request toilet paper and was forced to remove his underwear at night."  Hoctor felt frustrated and stymied.  John Bailey (NBC News) quotes the doctor testifying,  "It was clear to me that they had made up their mind on a certain course of actions and my recommendations didn't really matter."

Perhaps most damning of all,  Ed Pilkington (Guardian) reported, "Three Quantico forensic psychiatrists who gave evidence to the court this week agreed that within days of arriving at the marine base Manning had recovered his mental health and was no longer a risk to himself. They consistently recommended that the soldier be put on a much looser regime. But the authorities would not listen."

Authorities would not listen.

Authorities ignored the medical professionals.

And AP wants to rush to suggest this was out of concern?

AP would do damn well to learn its own limitations.

Unless an AP consultation is now covered by ObamaCare, we'd suggest it stop attempting to render medical findings before it gets slapped on the wrist for practicing medicine without a license.

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