Rumsfeld Questions Planted By Embedded Reporter

Via Drudge we discover Edward Lee Pitts, embedded with the 278th Regimental Combat Team, is a reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. What's more, he coached soldiers who were asking Rumsfeld questions yesterday (from a note he sent the staff at the Times Free Press):

I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey North was delayed just long enough see I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.
So during the Q&A session, one of my guys was the second person called on. When he asked Rumsfeld why after two years here soldiers are still having to dig through trash bins to find rusted scrap metal and cracked ballistic windows for their Humvees, the place erupted in cheers so loud that Rumsfeld had to ask the guy to repeat his question. Then Rumsfeld answered something about it being “not a lack of desire or money but a logistics/physics problem.” He said he recently saw about 8 of the special up-armored Humvees guarding Washington, DC, and he promised that they would no longer be used for that and that he would send them over here. Then he asked a three star general standing behind him, the commander of all ground forces here, to also answer the question. The general said it was a problem he is working on.

So, while it may be a real problem, is this a case of bias in the Press changing the debate? After all, according to Rumsfeld, as relayed by Fox News:

He also said military vehicles that go into Iraq without full armor are used only inside U.S. compounds, rather than used on street patrols where they are vulnerable to roadside bombs. And he said those vehicles without full armor are moved into Iraq on transport vehicles rather than being driven.

So, perhaps a question was asked that was great for sound bites and low on content. I'd expect that sort of behavior from a TV reporter, not a newspaper.

Josh Poulson

Posted Thursday, Dec 9 2004 10:23 AM

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