Sprinkled throughout the mainstream media today are news reports about the Army Times and similar periodicals running an editorial Monday calling on the President to fire Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Typical was the story carried on NBC5.com, Chicago's NBC affiliate, "Military Newspapers Call For Rumsfeld Removal." The piece begins, "The Military Times Media Group, which publishes the influential Army Times and other military periodicals, said it will be running an editorial Monday urging President Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld."
But wait a minute. Are these publications actually "military newspapers?" The average reader might well interpret that term to mean that they're produced by active duty military personnel. They're not. Although the newspapers are targeted for service members, the Army Times and all the others are private, independent operations. They are subsidiaries of the Gannett Co., which also publishes USA Today.
Moreover, this isn't the first time these "military newspapers" have called for Mr. Rumsfeld to be fired. They also did so two and one-half years ago.
It would have been better had the press provided adequate information about the Army Times and the others so that readers wouldn't be confused. They might think that there's widespread dissatisfaction with Mr. Rumsfeld among our courageous men and women serving in uniform. Or was that the point in ignoring the newspapers' private, independent status in the first place?