PM Polemic for Military Policy

Article excerpt


The campaign to enable homosexuals to serve openly in the military has escalated beyond public relations into perception management. The fancy new buzz phrase, dramatized in the popular novel The Whole Truth, describes media-assisted deception on a global scale. David Baldacci, in an author's note, summarized the tactics of unscrupulous perception managers: PMs are not spin doctors because they don't spin facts. They create facts and then sell them to the world as truth.

Media reaction to a document recently released by the Michael D. Palm Center, a California-based homosexual activist group formerly known as the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military (CSSMM) presents a real-time example of perception management. The 16-page paper, trumpeted as a study by the Associated Press, claims that inclusion of professed homosexuals in the military would not undermine the basic characteristic of combat effectiveness, unit cohesion. The document actually presents opinion as fact, spins speculation as certainty, misuses respected names, and dresses up faux facts to resemble an impartial academic review.

AP reporter Anne Flaherty swallowed it whole. Rushing to press with only one token quote expressing dissent, she failed to mention that the sponsoring Palm Center is an activist group solely devoted to the cause of homosexuals in the military. CNN, Time and most of the liberal media republished the AP story without question, advertising illusory evidence that repeal of the 1993 law regarding homosexuals in the military would not harm morale or readiness.

If the AP had asked my organization for a comment before Ms. Flaherty's story was published, instead of afterward, I would have pointed out typical flaws and distortions that an objective reporter should have noticed. The document claims, for example, that the four retired flag and general officers who conducted the project devoted particular and extensive effort to the study of published works submitted by named Invited Experts who disagree with the Palm Center's views.

Sounds reasonable, but panel members apparently limited their range of study to one side. There are no footnotes referring to opposing views that I and others recommended to the panel in response to a letter from project co-coordinator Brant A. Shalikashvili, an activist for gays in the military whose father is a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Several of us declined to meet with the panel for good reason. I suspected that good-faith cooperation would be rewarded with misquotes and misattribution of support for whatever product would result. That suspicion proved correct. The document, for example, attributes a misleading statement to Professor Charles Moskos, who died of cancer on May 31. The respected military sociologist, a former draftee, patriot and longtime friend, regularly contributed to my organization. He is nevertheless quoted posthumously in the Palm Center report as if he were an ally in their cause.

The media missed an astonishing bit of news in the report. Finding Five cites a 2006 Zogby Poll to suggest that if gays and lesbians had been allowed to serve openly in the military, 2 percent of potential recruits - about 4,000 presumably heterosexual military men and women - probably would have declined enlistment in the last 14 years. That number, they claim without support, would be canceled out by 4,000 gays and lesbians likely to enlist in their places. …