Accuracy in Media

It was big news when Capt. Holly Graf was fired as skipper of the USS Cowpens. But the story behind the story is how www.MilitaryCorruption.com unearthed a dramatic photo of Graf’s cruiser nearly hitting the destroyer the USS John S. McCain while drag racing at sea and coming within 300 feet of collision. Many media outlets in this country wanted to quote us and publish the photo. But some – like the AP – wanted to avoid the truth.

We said in our exclusive story: “It’s been said a picture is worth a thousand words. We can only hope the one above is worth a court martial, even if it makes the Navy blanch to punish an incompetent and unstable ‘politically correct’ poster girl for all the super feminists at the Pentagon and the U.S. Naval Academy.”

We waited to see what the influential wire services would do.

The Associated Press has a virtual monopoly in the United States when it comes to major wire services. United Press International is but a shadow of its former self, and the British-owned Reuters news agency has only a small fraction of AP’s newspaper clients.

While Pentagon-dependent Navy Times took our photo (granted them free of charge, and transmitted at our expense) and promised us a specific reporter would call us for an interview, we were sand-bagged when no call came, and they froze-out any mention of or even credit to  

MilitaryCorruption.com. 

Pacific Stars and Stripes ran the “ships near miss” photo, with credit line recognizing our copyright, as did the New York Post and other papers, but Navy Times had no reasonable explanation for the censorship. Except that maybe they didn’t want to anger their friends in “the Puzzle Palace.” We at MilitaryCorruption.com have no compunctions about shouting out loud: “The emperor has no clothes.” We don’t depend on the Pentagon for promotion lists and other data. We report the news, all the news, without fear or favor.

The courteous Associated Press photo editors we talked to requested and accepted our copyrighted photo. In fact, they sent us a form to fill out that gave AP “one-time” use of the pix at no charge to them. That was fine with us. We had no reason to suspect that “politics” or the offended “sensibilities” of a liberal female reporter would cause us to become “persona non grata” at the Associated Press. 

Here’s what happened:

We were told the photo’s resolution and DPI were just fine. The name of the lead ship, destroyer John S. McCain, could be clearly seen in the image. That’s important, because later we were given various “excuses” why the photo didn’t run. None of the “explanations,” as far as we could tell, emanated from the photo department  itself.

One AP executive claimed it didn’t run because it couldn’t be authenticated. No one on the photo desk told us they had any problems that way.

All we knew the day we sent it, was it was good quality and ready to go. At least, “ready to go,” as soon as someone on the AP news desk wrote a piece to accompany the photo. Two days after we transmitted the free photograph, we were shocked to learn the image still had not been sent out on the AP wire.

We should have seen what was coming, or going down, but didn’t right away. Taking the bull by the horns, we called AP Washington and got the imperious Anne Gearan, self-styled “gatekeeper” of what should or should not move on the AP wire, depending, apparently, on her sensibilities. And Gearan is no conservative Republican.

The person we spoke with at AP Photos confirmed the problem was the folks at the Pentagon and Washington Bureaus, who were apparently too busy to do a follow-up story,  since they didn’t bother to even offer an explanation to their photo desk why the pix didn’t deserve an accompanying article. The “Catch-22” was: “if no story, no picture runs.” 

Gearan was snide and condescending as she brushed aside our generous offer, vaguely referring to the bureau being “short-handed,” as if that was the reason for the brush-off. Politely, we offered her the name of the Navy public affairs officer at 7th Fleet, CDR Jeff Davis, to confirm the ships were racing at sea.

Incredibly, the Associated Press “story” that later moved about Navy Capt. Holly Graf, relieved of command of the cruiser Cowpens for “cruelty and maltreatment of her crew,” was riddled with errors, and of course, no mention whatsoever was made of MilitaryCorruption.com’s exclusive reporting and photograph.

In the very first sentence, whoever wrote the piece for AP made the grievous error of saying Graf was “demoted” instead of the factual “relieved of command.”

We reproduce here below the exact way the article first appeared:

WASHINGTON (AP) (Mar. 5, 2010) — A NAVY CAPTAIN WAS DEMOTED BECAUSE SHE BERATED AND ASSAULTED HER CREW, NOT BECAUSE SHE LED HER GUIDED MISSLE CRUISER ON A DRAG RACE WITH ANOTHER U.S. WARSHIP IN THE PACIFIC, AN INVESTIGATION SHOWS.

The AP went on to refer to information given by “naval officials on condition of anonymity” because they were not authorized to speak “on the record.” What happened to our assist with name of a source to use as attribution?

When we wrote our MilitaryCorruption.com article: WHY YOU CAN’T TRUST THE ASSOCIATED PRESS OR NAVY TIMES . .  .”, we pointed out the dictionary definition of the word DEMOTE and explained what a serious reporting error AP had made.

The following day we saw this variation on the previous incorrect account:

WASHINGTON (AP) (Mar. 6, 2010) – – A NAVY CAPTAIN LOST HER COMMAND BECAUSE SHE BERATED AND ASSAULTED HER CREW, NOT BECAUSE SHE LED HER GUIDED-MISSLE CRUISER IN A DRAG-RACE WITH ANOTHER U.S. WARSHIP, AN INVESTIGATION SHOWS.

Well, it’s nice they fixed the “boo-boo,” but we didn’t even get credit for “copy-editing” for them. When the AP renders you to the “memory hole,” you don’t exist.




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