We interrupt this program …

I try not to be too critical of the local news media. Goodness knows they have enough trouble from bitchy people who know nothing about news but still let their ignorant opinions spew forth. But a news story I heard last night on KBTV-4 just left me dumbfounded.

They reported how neighboring Orange County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 20-year-old deserter from the Marine Corps. Yeah, that’s it in case you were waiting for the punch line. I just had to e-mail my opinion to the channel’s news director on why I don’t think that is really a news story. Military personnel go AWOL all the time, whether a war is going on or not. A desertion includes situations such as when a person has been AWOL for more than 30 days or if he or she declared the intention to desert.

Paul Bergen, Channel 4’s news director, replied to my e-mail and linked to a “Houston Chronicle” story about two Fort Hood soldiers who committed suicide after returning from Iraq.

“So, would you consider this newsworthy then? Some viewers may perceive it to be a reflection of morale of troops,” Bergen wrote me, somewhat defensively it seems.

Yes I consider the two suicides a story. But I can’t for the life of me find any proof positive to link either those deaths or the desertion of a 20-year-old Marine to the current state of military morale. Show me some proof first.

While a deserter may get prison time for the offense, a good possibility exists that he or she won’t. In many instances the services simply discharge the individual and send them on their merry way. I asked Bergen in a reply to his reply if his station will report it if such a discharge is the outcome in this young Marine’s case. I’m not holding my breath that it will be reported.

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