Thursday, October 20, 2005

Another Soldier Disputes NBC's Depiction of "Staged" Presidential Conversation, But With an Ironic Twist

They Call Us, "Doc", the blog by SGT Ron Long, one of the soldiers who participated in the conversation with President Bush that NBC mischaracterized as "staged" (soldiers were coached by a staffer before the President began talking to them) links to an article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The article is an interview with another soldier who was present for the Presidential conversation and who backs up SGT Long's account:
A Chattanooga soldier now in Iraq with the 278th Regimental Combat Team said soldiers used their own words during comments made last week in a satellite discussion with President Bush.
"We wanted to give President Bush a no-kidding assessment of what we have all been working 14- (to) 18-hour days on for the last 11 months," said Lt. Gregg Murphy, of Chattanooga. "We gave him the God’s honest truth as we know it."
The dialogue was among President Bush and 10 U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq last Thursday on the eve of Iraq’s constitutional referendum. Media outlets have called the event staged because the solders went through a rehearsal before talking live with President Bush.
"Staged infers that we were given scripts and that we followed those scripts," Lt. Murphy wrote in an e-mail to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "This is not true. None of the members on the panel used any words that were not their own."
The ironic twist is that the article was written by Edward Lee Pitts, the reporter who tried to trip up Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld by planting a question during a meeting that was supposedly for soldiers' questions only.