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In Defense of Jake Tapper

jake_tapper_x200Embattled CNN anchor Jake Tapper took to Facebook last night to defend himself against the onslaught of criticism he has received over his Friday interview with former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.

“We need to have open, honest, and yes uncomfortable conversations about this war,” Tapper wrote. “We can’t do that if any time someone sees things differently they’re accused of hating the troops. Questions HONOR the troops. And our freedom to ask them is what they fight and die for.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Indeed, in this humble blogger’s opinion, the witch hunt provoked by The Blaze‘s Oliver Darcy and Glenn Beck is appalling and the only truly offensive aspect of this whole Jake-Tapper-Hates-the-Troops affair. Tapper did nothing more than ask the kind of questions that many, if not most, Americans are thinking about the War in Afghanistan. Luttrell’s reaction was unwarranted, though perhaps understandable. The faux-controversy being ginned up after the fact is what is actually disrespectful to the memory of the soldiers who died in Afghanistan. Darcy and Beck should be ashamed of themselves for  intentionally obfuscating the story, purely for the sake of driving up page views. Betsy Rothstein at the Daily Caller has a great piece up which expounds in more detail on why this is true -we suggest you go read it.

But no one does a better job of defending Jake Tapper than Jake Tapper, so I’ll let the man speak for himself:

Regarding this controversy…

I’ve spent years reporting on troops and their families so it pains me that my use of the word “senseless” to describe the 19 SEALs and troops killed in Operation Red Wings has become the focus of this interview with an American hero and has been misinterpreted as a reflection of my thinking the deaths meant nothing and than somehow I’m not grateful. 

I would hope that my reporting trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, my book about Combat Outpost Keating, my two CNN documentaries about Medal of Honor recipients, and my continued reporting on veterans and troops and their families would belie that accusation. 

Apparently not.

Read the whole message after the jump.

I had just seen the movie the day before and was still very emotionally wrought by it. As my question suggests, I think the loss of American lives in Afghanistan is tragic and it rips me up, but I also understand that there is a noble mission in working with peaceloving Afghans to ensure a future for that country. Both of those ideas are presented in the film and I wondered if that ambivalence was intentional. That was what I was asking about.

Any servicemember who puts him or herself in harms way in Afghanistan or elsewhere and gives his or her life has done so in the name of whatever motivated that servicemember to enlist: Duty, country, family, service, honor, sacrifice. They do not die for nothing. They die for whatever brought them there.

But that doesn’t mean that every time there is a loss of life there it makes immediate sense, especially to a civilian like myself. 

Troops, too, however have confided in me about their inability to discern purpose or meaning in some of their friends’ deaths. 

There are accidents, poor planning, crappy equipment, bad command decisions, turncoat allies, and sometimes the enemy just gets a lucky shot. 

Does each of the deaths in Afghanistan make sense to my critics? If so, God bless and give me your number, I know some widows and moms who would love to hear the explanation, the “sense.”

That is not the same however as saying those troops died in vain. They died for whatever brought them there. Their battle buddies. Their faith. Their sense of justice.

I’ve grappled with these issues while covering the war in Afghanistan for years. When talking to widows and grieving mothers. When spending time with soldiers who were telling me their stories and had to take a break because they were weeping so much. When contemplating just how little I have sacrificed and given in comparison with this one percent of the nation.

The exchange with Marcus Luttrell was uncomfortable but I included it because I thought the disconnect between me and Luttrell was important. There is a significant chasm between the one percent who sacrifice everything for us and the other 99% of us. 

Right now public support for the war in Afghanistan stands at 17% – it is the least popular war in American history. That is heartbreaking given all that has been sacrificed.
We need to have open, honest, and yes uncomfortable conversations about this war. We can’t do that if any time someone sees things differently they’re accused of hating the troops. Questions HONOR the troops. And our freedom to ask them is what they fight and die for.

 

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