Television journalists long to be taken seriously. But it's difficult when sensationalist news directors send live crews to cover non-stories that would bring a legitimate journalist to tears.
On May 10, WTVD, NewsChannel 11, sent longtime anchor Larry Stogner to report such a story aboard the USS Miami, a nuclear submarine. Stogner, a Vietnam veteran, might as well have broken out his old uniform for the occasion.
Stogner proudly described how the Miami had fired its cruise missiles on Baghdad during the Gulf War. And off Kosovo, Stogner reported, "the Miami fired all of its Tomahawks, reloaded and fired again."
Of course, Stogner avoided sore subjects in his interview with Miami "Skipper Jim Ransom"--like the fact that scores of civilians ended up on the receiving end of many of those cruise missiles. Oh well. That's war.
Nor did Stogner raise another obvious question: Why does the United States spend billions of dollars each year to keep destabilizing Cold War dinosaurs like the Miami on the high seas? Instead, he asked Ransom to re-create a war scenario. When the bombs were flying for real, Stogner suggested, "the adrenaline was pumping."
"The crew was definitely ready," Ransom said. "I think they felt good about themselves that they were ready to go do what they were trained to do."
One unnamed sailor gave a hint that perhaps there was more to the story. "When the real thing has happened, it's very sobering to know that you just actually shot a Tomahawk and it's going toward its target."
Stogner skipped right over that one.
"With the Miami's battle record, that training has obviously paid off," he reported. "We should all sleep better tonight."