Biting Their Tongues
By Dawn Lim
Turns out Gen. Stanley McChrystal's tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte with President Obama after his biting remarks in the July issue of Rolling Stone was the now-former top military commander's swan song. The incident likely will change how government officials conduct themselves in front of the media.
What was McChrystal's mistake? He let his guard down, establishing a precedent for his aides to set a similar tone in front of the press. "It was a sort of natural kind of recklessness that General McChrystal had, which has been with him through his entire career, as I understand it. And inviting me in was obviously a risk, as it always is when you invite a journalist in," said Michael Hastings, the journalist who penned the damaging profile, in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer.
Reporters spend their lives waiting to be invited (or crashing the party), hoping to catch an authentic moment. As the administration increasingly puts the pressure on feds to toe the line, I'm not sure if the doors into government workings will be as open to me as they have been.
The president's announcement today provided a clear message that when top military commanders diss their peers and superiors -- publicly or privately -- it can affect troops' ability to carry out their duties. It seems the event's repercussions already are being felt. "It's a reminder that I need to do my job well," a public relations officer at the Navy said on Wednesday morning.