All the Wright stuff and out-of-touch media
n the U.S. military, there is a wonderful little expression: “A good plan never survives the first contact with the enemy.” The corollary to this rule is: “Expect the unexpected.” Then, of course, there is the expanded version of the Boy Scouts motto: “Be prepared — for anything.” The last week in April served to remind me how apt these quaint little expressions really are.
My plan for the week was very simple: conduct a series of quiet interviews for print and broadcast media and a few low-key appearances in preparation for the release of my new book, “American Heroes —- In the Fight Against Radical Islam.” B&H, my publisher, and Fox News, my employer, had put together a launch plan that ensured we would promote the book first on Fox News. Then I would go on a relatively brief tour, signing books near military bases.
Because the book is about the soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines I have covered in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Persian Gulf and the Philippines, it all seemed very uncomplicated. Then the Rev. Jeremiah Wright intervened.
For reasons known only to Mr. Wright, he chose that week to drag me into the mess he has made of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. During a surreal appearance at the National Press Club in Washington, Mr. Wright said his congregation, of which Sen. Obama is a member, had “stood in solidarity with the peasants in El Salvador and Nicaragua while our government, through Ollie North and the IranContra scandal, was supporting the Contras, who were killing the peasants and the Miskito Indians in these two countries.”
When Mr. Wright made this stunningly inaccurate comment, I was blissfully unaware he even knew my name — until my cell phone started buzzing. In short order, the interviews we so carefully had arranged to talk about “American Heroes” became interrogations about events of more than two decades ago.
I wanted to talk about young Americans now serving in harm’s way — the subjects in my new book. Unfortunately, the people calling me wanted to talk about presidential politics and ancient history. So much for the plan.
Mr. Wright’s untimely and inexplicable use of my name has had two, perhaps unintended, consequences. First, it reminded me of that old axiom about “the best-laid plans of mice and men.”
But of greater import, it has illustrated once again how disconnected my colleagues in the socalled mainstream media are from the people.
In the days since Mr. Wright used my name for his own obscure purposes, dozens of reporters have asked me about his comment, Barack Obama and my tenure on Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff. Notably, not one of the thousands of Americans who have asked me to sign copies of “American Heroes” inquired about anything except the troops whose photographs appear in the book. Talk about a disconnect.
And therein lies a problem far greater than Rev. Wright’s hatefilled racist rhetoric or his longstanding antipathy toward all that is good and decent about our country. The potentates of the press, so committed to the shallow celebrity journalism of the moment, are wildly out of touch with the American people they purport to serve.
During the course of the last several days, as I have signed their books, thousands of our fellow citizens have told me about their sons, daughters, grandsons, nephews, spouses or other loved ones who are serving or who have served in this long war against radical Islam. Just like those whose photos are in the book they have handed me, they have their own American heroes. Yet when I ask fellow members of the Fourth Estate whether they even know the name of anyone serving in the uniform of our country, the answer is almost invariably, “No.”
The young Americans serving today in our armed forces deserve better than that from the people who profess to deliver news to the rest of us. Rather than serving up more blather about Jeremiah Wright, editors, producers and program directors would serve all of us better by sending their commentators and correspondents out to cover those who have volunteered to serve in our military.
The remarkable men and women I am privileged to cover for Fox News demonstrate courage, commitment, compassion and self-sacrifice daily. They know our country is far better than the place described by Jeremiah Wright. That’s why I call them American heroes.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist and host of “War Stories” on Fox News Channel and the founder of Freedom Alliance, a foundation that, among other programs, provides college scholarships to the sons and daughters of military heroes.