CNN: Beware Lying Military Recruiters

With President Bush presumably about to announce a surge of troops into Iraq, what better time for CNN to run a segment . . . likely to put a damper on recruiting? In theory, there was nothing wrong with a segment aired at 10:30 ET this morning, geared to providing useful information to potential recruits. As discussed during CNN host TJ Holmes' interview of Gina Cavallaro of the Military Times [owned by Gannett, the folks who bring you the liberal USA Today], recruits do need to understand that they are entering into a contract with the military, that they have bargaining power, that it's possible to negotiate, that it's wise to get things in writing, etc.

Well and good. But all that information was provided against the backdrop of a recurring theme: that recruiters are likely to distort or even lie to potential recruits.

Holmes introduced the segment this way: "Between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military recruiters are feeling more pressure to meet their goals. They are overstating the benefits of enlisting right now, is the word. What should you know before your son or daughter signs on the dotted line?"

Holmes' first question to Cavallaro: "The [recruits] you talk to who were just getting into it or have been in for a little bit, do you hear much saying they didn't really know what they were getting to? Did their impressions turn out to be true once they were enlisted?"

Cavallaro took it from there: "I hear people saying, 'my recruiter lied to me. I'm not where I said I would be. I didn't know I would be in Korea for a year.' You definitely hear those things."

And although she added that lying recruiters aren't "the norm," just a minute or so later she warned "you're going to maybe eventually run into somebody out there who is going to be less than scrupulous or who isn't going to tell you everything."

And later still: "And you need to know also that any recruiter who tells you you're not going to go to Iraq is telling you less than the truth."

Are there recruiters who fudge facts? I suppose so. But I'll be on the lookout for the next CNN used-car buying guide to see if CNN treats salesmen with as much cynicism as it directed toward the United States military this morning.

Mark was in Iraq in November. Contact him at
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