Saturday, October 4, 2008

"Don't Be Discouraged with the Media"


One of three key points Lt. Col Oliver North (ret) made to Marines was to not become discouraged with mainstream media.

"You have to understand, the Press doesn't understand the vernacular, don't understand the history [of the Marine Corps or military]," he told an audience of about 120 Marines and civilians at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Thursday night.

"If its bad news, its good news for the media," he said.

Oliver North was the featured speaker at the Museum's monthly speaker series. Every month they bring in someone who has been key to the Marine Corps either historically or currently. North was asked to speak on the role of the media.

North, a Marine made famous by the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s is now a correspondent with Fox News, hosting "War Stories". He has the unique experience of being on both sides of the media fence.

He told the Marines and the military in attendance that hte Press was intimidated by them, "They can tell there is something different about you, they are in awe of you."

"They [press] realize you [military] are the very best of this generation. They realize that you volunteer to serve in a time of war."

He also pointed out that this is the first war where our [US/Western] media is getting most of its war images from the enemy.

In this environment, where journalists don't know the military culture and are prepared to assume the worst, where the enemy is shaping the public opinion battlefield through its use of mainstream media and the internet, North advised the military personnel to, "Put out the straight scoop and let the chips fall where they may."

The reality of the current wars he said was that the U.S. military has been successful but the media and even U.S. politicians have not recognized this. Again, North cited the lack of practical military knowledge of the media and politicians.


He illustrated this lack of knowledge in a slide presentation. A photo of a Navy Corpsman was carrying a wounded combatant down a road. This Corpsman had run out into the middle of a fire fight and grabbed a wounded Marine and carried him to safety. Then the Corpsman ran back out into the fire fight and grabbed another wounded man and carried him to safety. North's Fox news crew was there along with a crew from Reuters, filming the action.

As the Corpsman ran back to the fight, one of the Reuters crew yelled out, "Hey, mate, why'd you do that, can't you see he's an Iraqi?"

The Corpsman paused and flipped the Reuters crew off with the response "Hey, can't you see he was wounded?"

"The media doesn't understand about Marines and what Americans are about," North said.

Another observation North has made over the years of covering the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan has been the number of men willing to profess their faith. He showed numerous images of men at field church services and being baptized.

"Never have I see so many young people willing to profess their faith in combat, " he said.

The second point that North made to the military personnel present was that there is a life after the Marines.

In 1990, North founded a not for profit organization called Freedom Alliance which provides scholarships to children of wounded and deceased military members; money for housing for family members coming to the DC area to support their wounded soldiers; Troop appreciation dinners and events; care packages; and a leadership academy to introduce teens to the opportunities available in the military.

Prior to the dinner, North's book, American Heroes: In the Fight Against Radical Islam, was available for purchase with all proceeds going to the Freedom Aliance. Here, he autographs copies for attendees.

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The final point he made to all of the military present was to write down their stories and experiences of combat, save the photos and video they had taken so they can tell their children and grandchildren what they had done. What they were doing he said was opening the door to freedom, freedoms that people in that area of the world had never experienced.

After he spoke, those who had not had a chance to meet him prior to dinner got their chance.

Oliver North has a quiet voice so those talking to him made a tighter circle to hear what he had to say, therefore, it made it difficult for me to get pictures of everyone talking to him.

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Side story:


Pre-dinner, North was speaking with a group of us from the museum to include Col. Camp's daughter. When Col. Camp introduced his daughter, he said, "Just to warn you, she's a liberal." To that North responded with his own story about his college aged daughter.

"I drove past our house [in the college town where his daughter attends school] where our daughter lives and we rent rooms out to several of her friends and there were five Obama signs in the front yard. Well, I hit the breaks and pulled over, looked around to make sure no one was around and I pulled all of those signs up and ripped them up, shoved them in the garbage can an put the can at the curb. My daughter comes home for a visit a few weeks after this and we get in a discussion about politics and she's going on about 'Dad, don't you want change? This country needs a change.' Well, he said he told her what he thought and she responded, ' You don't know how bad its gotten,dad. Mary [roommate] was home a few weeks ago and some old man stopped his car in front of our house and pulled all the Obama signs out and ripped them up. '

He said he didn't say anything, he was a little wounded that he'd been described as an 'old man'. His wife later pulled his daughter aside and told her that he had been that 'old man'. He said his daughter hasn't talked politics with him since."

We all laughed. Col. Camp's daughter commented, "I was going to ask you which candidate you endorsed but I guess I know."

By the way, any opinions Oliver North expressed while talking with guests were his own and not those of Fox News or the Marine Corps.

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