Despite admitting the move had the support of “three dozen generals and admirals”, NBC Nightly News seemed peeved that President Trump pardoned Michael Behenna, a former U.S. soldier convicted of unlawfully killing a terrorist in a combat zone. But back in 2017, NBC cheered when President Obama released Chelsea Manning, who damaged U.S. intelligence by leaking secrets to WikiLeaks (before the media hated them). They also ignored Obama’s release of an unrepentant terrorist.
President Trump’s pardon of controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, scourge of illegal immigrants and a promoter of the “birther” conspiracy theory about Barack Obama, made the front of Sunday’s New York Times. Legal reporter Adam Liptak began the chorus of disapproval with “President Pardon of Arpaio Follows the Law, Yet Challenges It.” Yet the same paper treated another controversial presidential action -- the commutation of military secrets leaker Bradley Manning – in quite sympathetic tones.
It’s ironic that the American culture will embrace someone for the sake of their sexuality. When it comes to leaker Chelsea (nee Bradley) Manning, the press has idolized the transgender convict to such an extent that Manning is now a celebrity. At least, Vogue seemed to think so. Nathan Heller wrote up a day in the life story following the “graceful, blue-eyed, trans” Manning to an after party for the Lambda Literary Awards.
After President Obama commuted the 35-year-sentence of Bradley Manning, (who now identifies as “Chelsea Manning,”) this past January, the now freed, disgraced former army private has plenty of time to speak with the media and give “her” side of the story. Nightline anchor JuJu Chang previewed her full interview with Manning on this morning’s Good Morning America, which portrayed Manning as a “complex” and “heroic” figure instead of a traitor.
Buried among the louder news stories of Wednesday evening was the release of the United States’ most infamous intelligence leaker, Army Private Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning). “Manning was released from a military prison in Kansas today. The transgender soldier served seven years of a 35-year sentence for giving government secrets to WikiLeaks,” touted Anchor Scott Pelley in a news brief during CBS Evening News. “Manning posted [on Instagram] a picture of her feet with the caption, "First steps of freedom."
On Tuesday night, the panel on FNC’s Special Report tore into President Obama’s “bizarre” decision to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence as “an absolute disgrace” that “does tremendous damage going forward because it incentivizes leaks.” This was in contrast to CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley, who reported that “[t]he Obama presidency is ending on a note of forgiveness” and “mercy.”
Late Tuesday afternoon the White House announced a list of 64 convicted criminals they planned to pardon, including 209 others whose sentences were being shortened. “The Obama presidency is ending on a note of forgiveness,” declared anchor Scott Pelley at the start of CBS Evening News. One of the most controversial sentence commutations was that of Private Chelsea Manning, who stole and released thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. The network most excited by the development, by far, was NBC, but none dared to cover the release of an unrepentant terrorist.
In the moments after President Obama commuted the sentence of convicted criminal Chelsea Manning on Tuesday, CNN’s Jake Tapper, host of The Lead, vocalized this disconnect between the White House’s actions versus how they felt when Manning first handed over stolen government documents to WikiLeaks.
Appearing as a panel member on Thursday's Anderson Cooper 360, during a discussion of Muslim-Americans "self-radicalizing' and becoming terrorists, liberal CNN political commentator Van Jones at one point blamed Donald Trump for allegedly causing some to "self-radicalize." As conservative CNN political commentator Jack Kingston argued in favor of studies to help answer the question of why "lone wolf" terrorists "became radical," Jones jumped in to inject: "When people say stuff like Trump. Trump kind of helps make people radical, but go ahead."
Friday's CBS Evening News previewed an upcoming 60 Minutes exposé on the "widespread failures in the system that grants top-secret security clearance to federal employees and contractors." Scott Pelley pointed at Bradley Manning as a prime example of "how top-secret clearances fall into dangerous hands." Pelley featured several clips from his interview of Manning's former supervisor in Iraq, who told her superior that "he cannot be trusted with a security clearance; we can't deploy him; and he's most likely a spy."
Convicted spy Bradley Manning is going to court in the hopes of securing a legal name change to Chelsea Manning. Pfc. Manning, who insists he is a woman and wants to be called Chelsea, has neither procured a court order for a name change nor begun gender reassignment treatments.
But reporting on the development, the Associated Press's John Milburn today repeatedly referred to Manning as either Chelsea or used feminine pronouns, betraying the news wire's devotion to absurd political correctness over an obligation to report that which is objectively true (emphasis mine):
ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning and evening newscasts have so far punted on reporting the strong critique of the Obama administration's "disturbing retreat from democratic practices" with regard to the freedom of the press, according to Reporters Without Borders. The U.S. fell 13 places in the international group's annual "World Press Freedom Index" for the federal government's "increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks."
The organization spotlighted the controversial leaks from Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden as examples, but also included the Department of Justice's seizure of the Associated Press' phone records as a "reminder of the urgent need for a 'shield law' to protect the confidentiality of journalists' sources at the federal level." Fox News' Shannon Bream devoted a brief to the Reporters Without Borders report on Wednesday's Special Report: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]