Manchester & The U.S. Media’s Dangerous Double Standard

Damaging. Irresponsible. Hypocritical. Opportunistic.  There are plenty of words to describe the U.S. media’s rush to disclose sensitive information leaked by U.S. officials concerning Britain’s investigation into the Manchester terrorist attack; a list that includes the bomber’s name and forensic photographs of the crime scene.

The British security services are fuming, and rightly so. The minutes, hours and days immediately following a terrorist incident are crucial for apprehending members of the terrorist network before they flee the country and for thwarting attacks which may be imminent.  Leaking and publishing details of an investigation during this narrow window undermines those efforts and jeopardizes public safety.

It’s up to the Trump administration to plug the leaks in America’s intelligence community. But the U.S. media, including its newspaper of record, The New York Times, has, in my view, placed profits over public service. In its scramble to beat the competition, boost circulation and garner more clicks, the U.S. media has compromised the integrity and the mission of the Fourth Estate.

The New York Times defended its decision to publish photographs of bomb parts found at the scene of the Manchester attack, writing, “Our mission is to cover news and inform our readers. We have strict guidelines on how and in what ways we cover sensitive stories.’

The problem is, the NYT’s does not apply the same standard when the life of one of its journalists is on the line.

When a journalist working for The New York Times is kidnapped overseas, the paper does not race to publish the story. It suppresses it. And for good reason. Publishing details of the abduction could endanger the life of the journalist and undermine efforts to secure their release. Furthermore, the NYT’s asks other news organizations to keep quiet.  As Columbia Journalism Review noted, ‘such news blackouts have become a well-established tradition among American media.’

I’m fine with suppressing stories to protect the lives of journalists.  Now it’s time for the U.S. media to extend the same courtesy to the public it professes to serve.

My Answer to “Child Soldiers” in the British Military

Why Under 18s Should Continue To Serve In Britain’s Military

Well meaning Human Rights groups are trying to change the British military structure that has gone on successfully for decades. Here is what they don’t understand.

I was born in Lochee, a very deprived area of the city of Dundee, Scotland in the mid 1950s. I was brought up in a Victorian tenement building sharing an outside lavvy with four other families. My father drank heavily and constantly threw my mother around the tenement like a rag doll. When I was around 7 or 8, I would step in to help my mother and get battered myself. At the age of fourteen, having spent more time looking after my mother than going to school, I chose to run away.

After chasing a dream of becoming a professional footballer but not making the grade, I joined the military. I entered the RAF Regiment just after my 17th birthday, did my basic parachute jumps and was sent off to a small simmering war in Oman. I was given special dispensation to go as a minor as my unit was undermanned.

I was chuffed to bits.

At the age of 20 I passed SAS selection (naivety got me through, lol) and I never looked back!

Joining as a youngster was good for me and it probably saved my life. It certainly kept me out of jail, off the streets and off drugs. It didn’t eliminate my voice, creativity or character, as those of you who know me or have read my blog know, ha.

The military gave me a set of front teeth as I’d had mine smashed out in a gymnastics accident at the age of 16. It showed me how to do laundry, stay tidy and keep my bedspace, shower and toilet immaculate…with the use of a toothbrush. It showed me the importance of being a team player, how to listen to your elders and how to never prejudge others. It gave me a family environment, something that I never had before, but would cherish for the rest of my life.

Joining the military as an under 18 year-old (child soldier) is the best thing that happened to me- and thousands of lads and lassies before, during and after me I’m sure. I really hope that never changes.