All the Wright stuff and out-of-touch me­dia

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - OLIVER NORTH


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.

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