LAST NIGHT I engaged in what NPR calls a "driveway moment," whereby I literally sat in my parked car in my driveway with my daughter, both of us unwilling to walk away from a riveting piece about an Iraq War veteran's scary struggle with the effects of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
This was one in a series of in-depth investigative reports by NPR and Pro-Publica, a non-profit investigative journalism organization, about how the U.S. military has not grappled sufficiently with the aftereffects of TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD among those who have suffered them in action, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. The result of these reports has been some very public responses by our miltary and veterans affairs officials that treatment of service members with these maladies needs reform and improvement. This is a case of where journalism is truly making a difference.
Moreover, the stories you hear -- from the service members themselves and the families who through hell to care for them -- are chilling and heartbreaking. In addition to spurring better handling of these wounded warriors, the stories on this NPR series remind us, as Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly did in this recent Washington Post article, of the continued sacrifice a relative few Americans are making on behalf of the country. "We are in a life-and-death struggle, but not our whole country," said Kelly, whose own son, a Marine, was killed in Afghanistan last November. "One percent of Americans are touched by this war. Then there is a much smaller club of families who have given all." At the very least (and this is not much), the rest of us owe it to them to pay attention, to keep their plight from being out of sight and out of mind.
I could -- maybe should -- go on about that, but I'm still thinking about my post the other day on NPR and the reaction to it. As I expected, not everyone agrees with me that notions that NPR is guilty of "liberal bias" are misplaced. Fair enough, I suppose. As I said, I think it's all about what appears in the eye of the beholder.
Still, when I encounter work like the NPR series on brain injury and PTSD among the military, I can't understand what these other eyes are beholding. Tell me, please, where is the "liberal bias" in this journalism? Is it "liberal" to raise a mirror up to our government about something it might want to improve? And since when is it "liberal" to be standing up for the needs of people in the military service? If anything, hasn't the right claimed that for itself?
And please detail for me how this particular bit of journalism differs from all the rest that NPR generates daily -- indeed, around the clock. Is this an anomoly?
I guess I still don't get it. .