Jennings/ABC Report Riles GOP Lawmakers

Mar 24, 2003  •  Post A Comment

A coalition of 12 GOP congressmen led by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., has urged the Pentagon to put a tighter leash on reporters traveling with military units in Iraq-even considering outright censorship-all in a pique over a report on ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings.
In the March 10 story at issue, Mr. Jennings was probing U.S. soldiers near the Iraq border about combat fears. In a March 14 letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the lawmakers said they thought the line of questioning inappropriate.
“We know the sacrifices that come with service, including the loss of life,” the lawmakers said. “Our young troops do not need to be reminded of that possibility by those who only seek to generate a story.”
The lawmakers also said that they believe reporters covering the military action need to be “mindful that reporting facts is quite different from generating an emotional story for ratings purposes.” In addition, the legislators urged Mr. Rumsfeld to clamp down on the more than 500 reporters that have been embedded with U.S. troops to cover the conflict.
“Please explain why media products will not be subject to security review or censorship?” the lawmakers said.
Jeff Schneider, an ABC News VP, said in response, “Peter Jennings is a veteran journalist who was simply doing his job and doing it superbly.”
The other lawmakers who signed the letter: Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.; Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas; Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo.; Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif.; Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Ill.; Rep. David Weldon, R-Fla.; Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.; Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.; Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb.; Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.; and Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill.