In July, Gallup asked its annual question about how much confidence Americans had in various institutions. Almost two-thirds (64%) said they had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the military; only 16 percent gave the same high ratings to newspapers, and just 11 percent had “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in TV news.
Yet instead of appreciating how our military are called upon to risk their lives to defend our nation against threats such as Islamic terrorism, some in the media trash American soldiers as their moral inferiors. Ex-MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry once said the quiet part out loud, admitting that the U.S. military is “despised as an engine of war by many progressives.”
The MRC has collected many quotes showing this antagonistic attitude from the media, with soldiers denigrated as “psychopaths,” war criminals, and “fighting tools of American imperialism.” Even on Memorial Day weekend a few years ago, MSNBC’s Chris Hayes recoiled from using the word “heroes” to describe the nation’s honored dead because, he explained, “it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.”
Left-wing journalists like to toss around words like “extremist” or “fringe” to marginalize conservatives, but these openly hostile attitudes about the military are way outside the American mainstream. A few quotes from the MRC’s archives:
■ “I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words ‘heroes.’… I feel comfortable — ah, uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war….”
— Host Chris Hayes talking about “The Meaning of Memorial Day” on MSNBC’s Up With Chris Hayes, May 27, 2012.
■ “Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him. It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as ‘heroes’”
— Salon writer David Masciotra, November 9, 2014.
■ War correspondent Sebastian Junger: “Everything has a kind of intensity. The soldiers aren’t psychopaths, they don’t miss killing, they don’t miss getting killed, but what they miss is that sense of meaning and the bond that arises in that situation….”
Host Bill Maher: “Well, some of them are psychopaths. I mean, let’s be honest. Some people join the Army because it’s the one place where you can kill people for free, where you’re not charged with murder.”
— Exchange on HBO’s Real Time, April 5, 2013.
■ “Well, they [U.S. soldiers who served in Kuwait and Iraq] really didn’t risk that much, number one. And second, to honor people who believe in violence is to honor the ethic of violence. And if you believe violence solves problems, you overlook quite a lot of morality.”
— Washington Post columnist Colman McCarthy on CNN’s Crossfire, April 19, 1991, talking about the parade to thank American troops after the first Gulf War.
■ “Americans get very upset when our nation is accused of war crimes, but I’m sorry to break this to you, our nation has done some pretty awful things abroad….How about the bombing of civilians in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia? What about Iraq? Was Abu Ghraib not a war crime? Didn’t we all see with our own eyes the images of those tortured Iraqi prisoners? In my view we don’t prosecute enough war criminals in this country…”
— MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan on The Mehdi Hasan Show, June 13, 2021.
■ “The dead in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania were used to sanctify the state’s lust for war….We descended to its barbarity. We became terrorists too. The sad legacy of 9/11 is that the assholes, on each side, won.”
— Ex-New York Times reporter Chris Hedges writing on Truthdig.com, September 10, 2011.
■ “More people who are rapists and violent go into the military….I think the reason why more rapists go into the military is same reason why predators go into the Catholic Church: it’s a place they know they can get away with it.”
— Host Bill Maher on HBO’s Real Time, May 10, 2013.
■ “Stop saying, ‘I support the troops.’ I don’t. I used to….But at some point all individuals must answer for their actions, and now that we know our military leaders do things that have nothing to do with defending our lives, why would anyone sign up for this rogue organization?”
— Left-wing filmmaker Michael Moore announcing his New Year’s resolutions in a December 31, 2012 article published by the Huffington Post.
■ “Stop Thanking the Troops for Me: No, They Don’t ‘Protect Our Freedoms!’”
— Headline of Salon.com article by Justin Doolittle published on Veterans’ Day, November 11, 2013.
■ “I don’t support our troops….When you volunteer for the U.S. military, you pretty much know you’re not going to be fending off invasions from Mexico and Canada. So you’re willingly signing up to be a fighting tool of American imperialism, for better or worse….I’m not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn’t be celebrating people for doing something we don’t think was a good idea.”
— Los Angeles Times columnist and former Time staff writer Joel Stein in a January 24, 2006 column.
For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.