July 8th, 2010
04:24 PM ET
4 years ago

Gates defends rules governing military's interaction with media

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday defended rules governing the military's interaction with the media.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday defended rules governing the military's interaction with the media.

Washington (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that new rules governing interaction between members of the press and the military are a result of "flat out sloppy" media relations efforts on the part of military officials in recent years.

A memo issued by Gates last week requires military officials to notify the Pentagon before providing interviews on potentially sensitive subjects.

The memo was released shortly after Gen. Stanley McChrystal was relieved of his duties as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, following the publication of a Rolling Stone magazine article in which the general and his staff were quoted criticizing and mocking key administration officials.

Too often, information given by military officials has been "lacking in proper context," Gates said. "Highly classified" information has frequently been divulged without proper approval, he asserted.

The memo "is not a change of policy, but a reaffirmation of existing policy that was being (followed) selectively at best," he said. Gates said he concluded "several weeks ago that we need greater coordination and discipline" in dealing with the media.

But the new rules shouldn't impede the flow of information, Gates said. "That is not my intent, nor will I tolerate it."

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen stressed that the press "is not the enemy."


Filed under: Robert Gates
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Don't worry, Mr. Gates. Most of the media is in the back pockets of our corporate masters and they just repeat propaganda and hearsay. The Rolling Stone incident was a fluke (goldanged hippie magazine!). You need not fear real journalism making an appearance in this day and age. Have a nice day!

    July 8, 2010 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The press is often an advocate for the military. Gen. McCrystal and his staff's statements definitely showed poor judgement and a lack of discipline.

    July 8, 2010 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. Real Patriot

    The new rules seem like a great idea after hearing the off the cuff remarks your new man in charge made about enjoying shooting people a few years ago.

    July 8, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. 60s survivor

    totally correct. I find media irrespoonsible at best. when it comes to military. should be on need to know basis. I believe too much nitpicking hinders getting a job done.

    July 8, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  5. ja

    no defending needed its what it says the military, not corporate, the general had a brain fart or didn't care

    July 8, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. Californio

    I guess now we'll have to figure out for ourselves what's going on in combat areas because the correspondents won't be able to ask anyone any questions without a pre-screening of the questions they want to ask. Isn't this somehow infringing on Freedom of the Press? What about the Stars and Stripes? Will they also be affected? Now we can all start worrying not only about the progress of the war's but whether the "news" we're reading has any credibility. Change you can(not) believe in. Pinche Obama!

    July 8, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. Ex-military

    America is the land of the spoiled. Remember the war slogans of the past like "loose lips sink ships"? Who needs spies when our enemies can turn on CNN or FAUXNEWS and listen to "embedded" reporters tell you when and where the military will strike next? Wonder why we can't catch Bin Laden after 9 years? He may sit in a cave, but idiots in the media like to broadcast our next big offensive in so-so area...gee, think the enemy listens and moves ahead of time?

    When you volunteer for the miltiary you swear an oath to do what you are told in giving the ultimate sacrifice to your country. That means you give up rights, like freedom of expression...no, the 1st amendment does not apply to those in military. If you do not like it, do not join. I gladly gave up a few rights so I could protect the rights of others. America needs to get over itself in its ideal that the public deserves to know everything. Well, if we broadcast everything, then the enemy knows it too. I would rather know less and be more effective than know more and still try to catch one lousy terrorist 9 years later.

    July 8, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    What ever happened to secret military strategy remaining a secret?

    Corporate Media think they rule the world and want to influence everything and everybody. Beware the gossip and propaganda spread as "news".

    July 8, 2010 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  9. Larry

    This is just another attempt to hide defense spending.

    Does anyone know our current defense budget is $720 billion annually?

    July 8, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. jim

    Because of what happened to McCrystal there is likely to be little interaction between the military and press in the future.Such is life. This is not good for the nation in the long term..

    July 8, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  11. Allen in Hartwell GA

    My first experience with the media was in Vietnam and we were told to tell no more than necessary, i. e. name, rank, serial number. My second experience was a few years later at Fort Riley, Kansas when a local newspaper reporter tried to get me, a low-ranking USAF NCO, to comment on how the fly-off between the YA-10 and the A-7 was going. Neither time did the media get what they wanted, and both times they didn't hesitate to show their displeasure.
    Over a 22-year career I learned that the media was not a friend of the military. The high-ranking officers who let the reporter into their circle forgot the rule, and now they are going to pay the price.

    July 8, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. Peter s

    Order order sir! is what has made the U.S.A military as one of the most finest brave men and women.

    July 8, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. T= too ashamed to admit being Republican

    Careful...we are a Democracy not a Military-Police state. We need to make sure the press has the ability to do their job which is investigative journalism. The military lied during Vietnam repeatedly. As long as the media adheres to a proper code of ethics...I don't see any issues. Rolling Stone did a great job.

    July 8, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  14. Biased

    Do those new rules also state that the media can't ask for privileges and then write about something totally different which was the intended premise in the first hand? It seems the author of the RS piece was quite happy stating on TV his intention was to go and stir up controversy over the Afghan war and its handling and he's sorry he got someone fired but it at least got people talking and I read it now has him a book deal..... so do these new rules go both ways?

    July 8, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  15. guy from NM

    The military as usual are above and beyond the law. The so called flow of information is just hogwash and lies most of the times. If the press is barred from doing its job, the military has a free rein, but unless something has changed, we, the civilians are controlling them.

    July 8, 2010 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  16. Nothing is too big to fail

    Here we go again. They promised transparency, now they back out on that promise too. What's there to hide?

    The government is supposed to protect our privacy, not theirs.

    July 8, 2010 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  17. Obama's Conscience

    Could someone explain why the Obama administration sees fit to take Arizona to court for enforcing its own federal immigration law, while giving a pass to those sanctuary cities who blatantly refuse to enforce it?

    July 8, 2010 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  18. Remember the Alamo

    It is simple there should never be any military interaction with the Media. The Media cause lives of American Soldiers to be lost. If they know the ifs ands, bolts of military strategy they will broadcast it to the moon. They don't care who it hurts or how many young men of America have to die. I was in Nam for two terms and would have turned my M16 on them in a wink of an eye if they had come around me.

    July 8, 2010 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |