Sunday, May 27, 2007

Using the Dead

NPR has been featuring a problematic reporter this year - Bob Konrardy a Vietnam War vet who went to Iraq in March of this year as an embed in the same-named platoon that he led in Vietnam. Konrardy is not a reliable journalist by any stretch, his own paper's editorial board sees it as a point of pride that he is "no mainstream journalist."

There's been something a little weird all along about this fellow. In NPR's first story on him we learn that he survived grave wounds in Vietnam, lost many comrades from his platoon, and recently began suffering PTSD after retiring from work. In that first report he said he wanted " go over and see combat, to try to put some of those old demons to rest." But then he added, "It’s not about me, it’s about the platoon." Actually it seemed all about him.

NPR's second feature on him was a study in the bizarre. Describing his time in Iraq he told Deborah Elliot, "...the platoon clears four houses...guys have to go into this house at night...rooms are like your bedrooms at home...they have no idea what’s in that room; there could be a kid with an RPG in there...the anxiety level goes into’s terrible..." Now that was interesting since I have yet to read a confirmed case of a house raid resulting in deaths of US soldiers from a "kid with an RPG."

Elliot then mentions that in Konrardy's photos of a raid, the man of the house is in his underwear, his wife's in her robe, and their little kids are at their feet. You might expect her to ask, "Don't you think raiding Muslim houses in the middle of the night with non-Arabic-speaking, heavily armed, tense US soldiers is likely to fuel resentment or worse?" Instead Elliot asks, "...did you ever feel that it wasn’t appropriate for you to be in these private homes since you are not an active duty soldier or a journalist who’s working for a newspaper?" Holy crap! If you're an active duty soldier or a journalist for a US newspaper, then - heck - mi casa es su casa - come on in...

Tonight was the final straw. It turns out that six US soldiers and one Iraqi in the platoon that Konrardy did his therapy-embed with were killed about a week ago. And here's the message Konrardy supposedly has from the men who were killed:
"...while we’re over here we sincerely believe that we are not having terrorists bombing our malls and bombing our sporting events because we’re keeping them too busy. So we’re protecting America, we’re helping our families" [to which Konrardy adds] "—and they believe that. And I do."
It's sickening and ironic; in his first NPR interview Konardy said, "I know I can’t do anything about the war..." and yet here he is doing the all he can to peddle the most blatant lie about this war that there is: that it is supposedly protecting us and making the world more secure when, in fact, it is doing exactly the opposite.

(Image source.)


Willie said...

Great post, and again, thanks for listening and reporting on this pseudo-reporting. Yes, most sickening indeed, that NPR would handle it this way, but no longer at all surprising.

Anonymous said...

I was searching for something else and ran across this. I know it is a year old, and wish I had caught it back when. I remember hearing this on NPR and being flabbergasted that NPR treated him like a professional having something worth saying. There are many things wrong with a Vietnam vet with PTSD who embeds himself as a "reporter" with our troops for a few days, and then works the media to talk about it, all under the guise of "for the boys there," for his PTSD, or for any other thing he comes up with. And on NPR he also admitted to breaking a serious promise to his family not to leave the base, like in thirty seconds. What a lack of integrity! Your "it's all about him" is sadly true. To be diagnosed with POTSD, he probably has a therapist, but obviously not a very good one. And how stupid can his family be to allow a sick man to pretend to be a reporter and endanger our troops by his civilian presence? Where were these people when he said he was doing this, and why didn't somebody try to stop him? Obviously he hasn't heard the expression that "nobody wins at war."