Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Does The Media Always Play Up Military Affiliations Of People Who Get Arrested?

Have you ever noticed that whenever someone who has even the slightest connection to the military gets arrested, the press always plays up the military angle? You might see a story about a guy who was in the Navy for a year, got booted out, and has been working in town doing other jobs for years; when he gets arrested, the headline will inevitably be "Former Sailor (or just Sailor) Arrested on Charges". As an example, check out this story from yesterday's New London Day:
A Waterbury man carrying a Navy identification card and a “U.S. Navy Police Officer” badge was among five arrests made in a prostitution sting in Meriden Wednesday...
...The police department's incident report said that Granitto, who was a bouncer at a club at 2041 N. Broad St. in Meriden, was found in possession of “a loaded .45 caliber handgun and a United States Navy Police Officer badge and Identification card from the Groton Subbase.” He was released after posting a $25,000 bond...
...Lt. Patrick Evans, public affairs officer for the Commander of Submarine Group 2, said Saturday night that the Naval Submarine Base will not be able to confirm whether Granitto is employed there until Monday.
Notice that there's nothing in the story about the other four people arrested. Why do you suppose that is?


Blogger ChaseKB said...

"..Jim Bob, who works at the local grocery store and carries a county library card.." doesn't stand out as well for the story.

1/26/2009 6:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"United States Navy Police Officer?" What the heck is that? Do the MAA's have some new designation or is that a fancy term for a rent-a-cop?

1/26/2009 6:59 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

A free press is free to write the story as seen fit. And sailors are not commonly thought of as of the criminal class. It's a news judgment - buy a paper and make your own.

1/26/2009 8:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to admit that this guy really stood out from the crowd so maybe it was part of a good story.

They do the same thing down here in San Diego. Back it the 80’s, the Admiral at Naval Station wrote a letter to the editor about it with the same sentiment. During a prostitution string in the Midway District with 28 arrests, the paper identified 5 or 6 who were in the Navy and Marines. The Admiral wanted to know the same thing, why single out the military guys? Why not say a Target or Circuit City Employee was involved. He threatened to put the whole Midway District off limits for all military and see how fast the place dried up. The paper ran an apology on page three of the want adds.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa

1/26/2009 8:18 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Sun, Bremerton's number one (and only) paper just loves to play up any military connection in their "911" section, though the person's profession rarely has anything to do with the story. And yet this group of intellectual giants wonders why their subscription rate is abysmal in an all-Navy town.

1/26/2009 9:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, rubber ducky, a free press is indeed free to write the story as they see fit. They can certainly spin the story to make it seem that a sailor was doing something illegal.

The problem comes in when newspapers abuse this freedom by not applying the responsibility to get the story, all of the story, correct. By focusing on some facts without divulging all of the details they do their readers a disservice.

1/26/2009 9:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

BH, The New London Day newspaper's web site links are only good for a few days, so was unable to quickly determine if the Day's editors, typical of others, think prostitution is a "victimless" crime, which of course, would be highly hypocritical.

If illegal importation of prostitutes, HIV, sex slavery, or underage girls are involved, there must be a better story out there about some sex trade kingpin. - Rex

1/26/2009 11:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A related question:

"How many newspaper reporters (or editors) have military experience...?"

A the local fishwrapper in my mid-large city, the answer is "zero."

1/26/2009 1:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probably because we do/should hold members of the military to a "higher" standard.

I always remember our talks from the 1SGT at formation on Friday's and how we were expected to conduct ourselves with a higher standard than our civilian counterparts.

Whether Soldiers/Airmen/Marines/Sailors like it or not they should act a cut above the rest because their conduct will always reflect on the institution to which they belong. They do have a responsibility to keep their conduct in check.

And I have no problem with that whatsoever.

1/26/2009 2:35 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a direct example of how the media habitually screws up:

A few weeks before I transferred to Whiteman AFB in the spring of 2003, there was an attempted armed robbery of a little mom & pop gas station in nearby Warrensburg Missouri.

A 19 year old kid strolled into the place demanding all the cash in the till and a carton of camels, while brandishing a starter pistol. The owner and proprietor on duty that morning had a working knowledge of small arms and could tell that this little bastard had produced a harmless starter pistol.

The owner then produced a S&W 357 magnum and pointed the barrel at the kid's chest, telling him to "get the hell out." The kid dropped his pop gun and headed out the door, down the street at a full run. Naturally the local police caught him within 5 or 6 minutes and charged the kid with attempted armed robbery and causing disorder in public.

Naturally, the local media heard the patrolmen being dispatched to the scene over a police scanner. The media was able to snap off a few shots showing the kid being cuffed, searched and then placed in the back of a patrol car.

Wanna know what this little bastard was wearing? For a top, he was wearing a red T-shirt under a woodland camo pattern BDU blouse, with blue jeans. Ain't that great?

Oh' It gets even better...On the right side of the blouse, above the pocket, was a 7-level AFSC patch and on the pocket, naturally, there was a USAF Security Police badge patch as well. The collar had a pair of gold oak leaves signifying the rank of a USAF Major. Clearly, the kid had bought the BDU blouse from a nearby Army-Navy shop in town.

How would a 19 yearold jack ass obtain the rank of a field grade officer at his age? Can you say, "Clearly Improvable?"

Since Whiteman AFB was and still is a Air Combat Command base, we wear the ACC patch on the right pocket of our BDU blouse. Well, our "Hero of the hour," as we nicked named him, also had an ACC patch on his "uniform."
The media got a shot of that as well and that's what brought the OSI (AF Office Of Special Investigations) in to play. The OSI rattled the shit out of our base commander and our S.P. squadron commander about the local photos of this kid wearing a BDU blouse with Security emblems and ID on the damn thing. It took two days for investigations to figure out that this kid was not a member of the AF or any other branch of service. OSI was pissed off and suspicious that the kid was wearing an ACC patch and the robbery had occurred about 14 miles off base. So, they take their frustrations out on our leadership. (Oh’ what joy!) How’s that for a complete waste of time?

We can thank the local media in their iron clad quest for sensational journalism for this one. Every morning at our 0600 guard-mount, our Squadron CDR would address the topic of being super-vigilant of any suspicious individuals, apprehend & detain and then report in immediately. (Gee ya think?) Since I was brand new to the base, my flight-sergeant had to explain to me why and what had occurred before I got there. After about two weeks of this, our leadership calmed down and everything was normal again.

If the media would do a simple amount of research before they print their daily BS, the lot of us would have less problems in life. Yet they wonder why the armed forces in general are so tight-lipped about 90% of the subject matter which draws the media's attention.

Thanks, J.

1/26/2009 3:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How many newspaper reporters (or editors) have military experience...?"

That probably has to do with it being a field that one would typically start out with from the beginning, and people who are interested in journalism probably aren't joining the military to start with. It's also a profession where you can't get too much experience with in the military. If someone from the military wants to become a reporter when they get out, nothing is stopping him but himself.

1/26/2009 3:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris nailed it above. What is the problem with members of the military being held to a higher standard?

It has the same 'drive slowly by the car wreck' gratuitous excitement of clergy sex scandals or excessive force by the police.

Don't blame the messenger, blame the jackass getting busted.

1/26/2009 3:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Editors at the Kitsap Sun, where I used to cover the military, always argued for identifying service members because they should be held to a high standard. I think that argument is valid, to a point.

High-ranking officers or NCOs hold positions of authority and that's relevant if they are accused of a serious crime. If a service member has a high security clearance or a job that puts them in contact with the public or vulnerable groups, like kids, that's relevant too.

But should military affiliation be mentioned for every crime? Does it belong in the headline every time? No. It's certainly possible to go overboard.

1/26/2009 4:52 PM

Blogger Mark said...

Have to say I'm with Chris on this one. I'm proud to be held to a higher standard than the public at large -- in fact I only wish more public servants were too (my homestate governor included, you may have seen him in the news today).

1/26/2009 6:32 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It just proves that sailors/and ex-sailors are more interesting than others!

1/26/2009 7:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Elaine Helm Norton

Say hi to you husband for me.

-LT L(eidigh)

1/26/2009 8:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Besides the higher standard arguement, the fact that military personnel are owned by the taxpayer makes a difference also.

However, all this bad press is easily stopped if people stopped breaking the law!

1/26/2009 10:07 PM

Blogger Unknown said...

I work at the Kitsap Sun, and my husband is a sailor. I am incredibly proud of the job he and his fellow sailors do, so to say that we have no respect or empathy for the military is flat-out wrong. The argument for singling out their profession over others is that they are held to a higher standard in their work lives. We do the same for others who are arrested and who serve in a public role...doctors, policemen, clergy, etc.

We celebrate them as heroes when they arrive home from a deployment, win an award, or undertake one of the many sacrifices they do. That hero status comes with certain responsibilities.

1/26/2009 11:32 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

I guess I don't mind the media holding the military to a higher standard, as long as they admit what they're doing. And I do object to them painting former military / civilian base employees with the same brush as active duty troops.

1/27/2009 2:13 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

In a followup story, the DAY reported that the gent mentioned had been let go from the base about a year ago and the big question was how he still had the badge and ID since he was no longer attached to the base police department.

1/27/2009 1:05 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

The thing about being held to a higher standard is just the way it is.

Note that almost no other 'average' employee is every categorized this way--included federal employees.

Law enforcement is different, and maybe there you can see some similarities. Those of the population who are granted permission to 'use force' as a part of the job, will always be held to a higher standard.

1/28/2009 1:23 PM


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