Friday, February 03, 2006

The Pen and the Sword

Lt. Col. Oliver North's take on the recent injury to ABC's Bob Woodruff and his cameraman. It is well written and to the point.

Oliver North
February 02, 2006Washington, D.C.

-- In the play, Richelieu, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the English novelist and playwright wrote, "the pen is mightier than the sword." Were Lord Lytton alive today, he would likely concede that the pen has been supplanted by a television camera -- and swords by lethal projectiles and explosives. But it's doubtful that the author would have claimed that those who use pens -- or cameras for that matter -- were more important than those who wield the weapons. Yet that seems to be the way it is today for those who fight in, and cover, the war in Iraq.

Earlier this week when ABC's Bob Woodruff and his cameraman Doug Vogt were badly wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED) near Taji, Iraq, the incident was instantly reported on every network and news wire. The following morning it was front-page news in every major newspaper.

The course of the two men's treatment, their evacuation -- first to a field hospital in Iraq, then to Landstuhl, Germany, and finally to the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Maryland -- has been detailed on television, talk-radio, in news magazines and Internet blogs. In the aftermath, the incident has been cited as “proof” that the war is going badly.

On Monday night, CNN's “Chief Foreign Correspondent” Christiane Amanpour, told the number two news network's Larry King that the war in Iraq "has basically turned out to be a disaster and journalists have paid for it, paid for the privilege of witnessing and reporting that and so have many, many other people who have been there." She then continued, “…for some reason, which I can't fathom, the kind of awful thing that's going on there now on a daily basis has almost become humdrum. So, when something happens to people that we identify, like Bob and like Doug, we wake up again and realize that, no, this is not acceptable what's going on there and it's a terrible situation."

Statements like these -- so full of self-importance and clearly made to advance a political perspective, obscure important facts. They also illuminate some very unflattering aspects about the modern “news business.”

The rest of Lt.Col. North's commentary can be found at

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