Instead of leading with how Army Private First Class Bradley Manning may have jeopardized national security with his document dump to WikiLeaks, NBC's chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, in his profile of Manning on Tuesday's Today show, told viewers he was the "most unlikely suspect, with a youthful smile" and portrayed him as an abused victim of the military. Miklaszewski used the New York Times' Ginger Thompson in his report to tell the tale of young man who apparently decided to avenge the abuse he had taken over the years, dating back to high school, by selling out his country.
Before throwing to soundbites from Thompson, Miklaszewski teased that the New York Times reporter "profiled Manning and found that as a young man he was an outcast who tried desperately to fit in." Thompson then went on to reveal that Manning "was teased all the time in elementary school for being a geek" and was beaten up in high school for "because kids figured out that he was gay." After Miklaszewski added that the abuse continued when he joined the Army, noting "once in the military, he quickly became a target," he aired another clip of Thompson claiming "As a gay man in the military, he was, you know, he was outcast and he was, you know, teased and harassed."
(video after the jump)
Miklaszewski also went on to report that, according to Thompson, Manning had been politicized by the Iraq War, with Thompson underlining: "I think he was driven more than anything by his desire to do something important." At the end of his story Miklaszewski reported that Manning was currently being held under maximum security at Quantico and assured viewers: "He's in good spirits and spends most of his day reading books and following news about this story."
The following is the full Miklaszewski report as it was aired on the November 30 Today show:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: So just who is Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, the man suspected of leaking all of these documents? NBC's chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski has that part of the story. Good morning to you Mik.
JIM MIKLASZEWSKI: Good morning, Meredith. Even as a kid, friends describe Bradley Manning as a computer geek who held strong opinions and wasn't afraid to express them. But at first glance, he appears the most unlikely suspect. With a youthful smile looking barely old enough to even be in the military, 23-year-old Army PFC Bradley Manning is at the center of the worldwide WikiLeaks storm. He's in military custody charged with providing WikiLeaks with this classified gun camera video - a U.S. helicopter gunship attack in Baghdad that killed a number of Iraqi civilians. But the more serious charges accuse Manning of leaking tens of thousands of State Department cables. But how is that possible? Military officials tell NBC News that as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad, Manning had allegedly downloaded the files from classified computers onto CDs, while apparently pretending to be listening to Lady Gaga. The charges against Manning claim he then uploaded the material "onto his personal computer" then passed it "to a person not entitled to receive it." But why would he possibly do it? Ginger Thompson, of the New York Times, profiled Manning and found that as a young man he was an outcast who tried desperately to fit in.
GINGER THOMPSON, NEW YORK TIMES: As a young kid, he was teased all the time in elementary school for being a geek. When he was in high school, he got beat up often because kids figured out that he was gay.
MIKLASZEWSKI: His father, a career soldier, reportedly kicked Manning out of their house in Crescent, Oklahoma. Friends say Manning eventually joined the Army to impress his father, but once in the military, he quickly became a target.
THOMPSON: As a gay man in the military, he was, you know, he was outcast and he was, you know, teased and harassed.
MIKLASZEWSKI: Thompson says Manning retreated into the cyber world where he became an accomplished hacker and in the middle of the Iraq War became more and more politically motivated.
THOMPSON: I think he was driven more than anything by his desire to do something important.
MIKLASZEWSKI: Neither Bradley's family or his lawyers are talking. He's being held under maximum security at the Quantico Marine base outside of Washington where military officials say he's in good spirits and spends most of his day reading books and following news about this story. Now the military is preparing to hold a hearing to determine if he's actually mentally competent to stand trial and he could face additional charges. If convicted on any of these charges, he could spend the rest of his life in a military prison, Matt?
MATT LAUER: Alright Mik, thank you very much. Jim Miklaszewski at the Pentagon this morning.
—Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here