Accuracy in Media

Two airmen from the Vietnam War came home last week.

Are you surprised to read this? There is reason to be surprised. CNN and most other national news outlets either refused to cover it or did not even know that it was happening.

Two U.S. Air Force heroes were buried together in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Cemetery on January 14th, 2011 with full military honors. They have been missing in action from the Vietnam War for 41 years.

On November 12, 1969 Major Robert Leon Tucci and Colonel James Eugene Dennany were flying a combat mission in their F-4 Phantom jet over the Ho Chi Minh Trail when they were hit by anti-aircraft fire. The aircraft crashed and exploded in a ball of fire in Laos. They had been MIA ever since, until their remains were recently located, identified and sent home to their families. Unfortunately, Colonel Tucci’s dad, Leon, did not live to see the return of his son to America. Leon Tucci passed away in 2009. His last words were “I’m just sorry I won’t find out about Robert.”

Apparently CNN did not think this story of these brave American heroes merited any coverage. When an interested citizen called in to the network to inform them of the ceremony in Dallas, he inadvertently called in on the “Breaking News” line and was rudely informed, “This isn’t breaking news. Breaking news is like an earthquake or plane crash. This is nothing more than a ‘story idea’ and we are not interested.”

Was it breaking news or not? It is certainly more important than a story about Lindsay Lohan getting out of rehab for the 20th time! One thing is not in dispute. It is newsworthy and these men deserved the honor of national coverage. They were born in Michigan, met in the Air Force in Texas, died fighting for all of us and were buried together as AMERICANS.

The Associated Press, to its credit, did report on this story, though we could not find where it was picked up by other news organizations or carried in any newspapers other than in Michigan, where the men were from, or Texas, where they were buried. Instead, apparently, CNN and the rest of the media were busy scouring the nation trying to find a connection between the Tucson murderer and some conservative talk show host, organization, or politician. There has to be a connection, so we must keep digging. We do not have time to cover some story about the burial of a couple of airmen coming home from a war that ended over 40 years ago. In addition we have our daily assignment to read each and every word ever spoken or written by Sarah Palin, to find something to criticize!

Kudos to the Dallas Morning News and FOX 4 News in Dallas for recognizing the sacrifice of these heroes and their families by covering the burial ceremony. Yes, it was local coverage but the national media could have picked up the story.

Inaccuracies in the media may occur when a media organization deliberately commits to perpetrating an untruth. However, it is much more sinister, when media outlets deliberately omit what should be reported and thus deny the public the right to know the truth.

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