January 12th, 2009
03:01 PM ET
14 years ago

Joe the Plumber: Ban media from war


Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, is in Israel. (Getty Images/Israeli GPO)

(CNN) – ‘Joe the Plumber’ Wurzelbacher told a group of journalists covering the conflict in Israel and Gaza that he didn’t think the media should be allowed to report on war.

“I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting,” Wurzelbacher said. “You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, ‘well, look at this atrocity,’ well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.”

Wurzelbacher arrived in Israel on Sunday to start a 10-day assignment for pjtv.com, a Web site run by the conservative media outlet Pajamas Media. The plumber-turned-foreign correspondent said he wanted to cover Israel’s side of the conflict, because he thought the media was slanting the story to make it look like “Israel’s being bad.”

In his first day as a reporter, Wurzelbacher described the hardships of daily life in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.

“I’m sure they’re taking quick showers, I know I would,” Wurzelbacher said. “So you can’t plan your day, you can’t take a picnic.“

Wurzelbacher said he thought Israel should have attacked Gaza sooner. He told a group of reporters that he was a “peace-loving man,” but that "when someone hits me, I'm going to unload on the boy.”

He got a first-hand taste of reality in Sderot, when his group heard sirens warning of a rocket attack. With cameras rolling, Wurzelbacher and his group ran into a shelter.

“I’m in the bunker, I’m sitting there angry, outright furious, that I’m letting this terrorist dictate what I’m going to do because they’re firing missiles,” Wurzelbacher said. “It was fear at first, then outright anger, and then me wanting some kind of retribution. I’m not a person that runs from things, but when it’s a missile, you run.”

Filed under: Joe the plumber
soundoff (1,513 Responses)
  1. Ryan

    No, Joe, go ahead, you don't have to run from the missiles. Stay out there, do your country a favor and stand right under one.

    January 12, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. Terry, Butte, Mt

    If something happens to Joe over there, the pjtv will get sued for sending a non professional to do a job he is not trained for, and by Joe's own admission a job he doesn't think anyone should be doing.

    Joe, go back to Ohio and read some history books about War Propaganda, if that is too much for you then just read the book 1984.

    Then maybe you will see why your comments are sooooo stupid.

    At any rate, just go home!!!

    January 12, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Bill I

    I disagree that Joe is "reporting." Reporters tell facts – some of which Joe relayed to us – but he needs to leave his personal opinions out of it, which is NOT reporting. Also – if he were "reporting," he'd include quotes from others in his story and try to get quotes from sources on both sides. Joe's version of "reporting" is a joke. He needs to start doing real reporting, or just call this trip for what it is – a bully pulpit for him to espouse his views.

    January 12, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Disturbed

    Yeah, when I'm hunkered down in a bunker avoiding a missile strike I then to get a little perturbed also... Why don't you run right out there Joe and tell them exactly how you feel... Just remember to yell really loud as rocket engines can muffle your pleading cries significantly.... Should have stuck to watching the NFl Joe.....

    January 12, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. In da Burgh

    I don't know, doesn't Joe have the right to his opinion just as the rest of all you ? Or is it only your opinion that counts ?

    January 12, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  6. michael

    i don't understand why people are complaining about this. if anything cnn is showing what happens when an idiot thinks he has an idea.

    January 12, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  7. Sancho Pansa

    Lenin said that any short order cook could rule a country. Looks like, any plumber can work as a journalist...

    January 12, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  8. Recovering Republican

    I would not be saddened to hear that Hamas has done it's part to raise America's collective I.Q. score by turning Joe-the-Plumber into Joe-the-Crater.

    January 12, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. Max

    Makes total sense. If you blind people from witnessing atrocities, they're less likely to argue against them. Then those committing the atrocities can get away with whatever they want.


    January 12, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  10. Rob

    Cheer up guys, maybe the RNC will nominate this clown for VP in 2012.

    January 12, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. John

    Can you blame him? I'm sure he got a heck of raise to head over to the Middle East and voice his opinion. We're stuck blogging on here blogging for free. I really don't think he cares if anyone agrees with him. I wouldn't

    January 12, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Gil

    Since Joe thinks reports should be banned from covering wars, I suggest we start with him!

    January 12, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  13. Agnes Fleming

    Why doesn't someone please ban this non-entity; his 15 minutes of fame would up a long time ago.

    January 12, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  14. Jackie in Dallas

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Duh? Doesn't he realize that he's saying that HE shouldn't be there? Like Sarah Palin, he needs some elocution lessons if he wants to be a correspondent; "well" is not a word to use two or three times in one or two sentences!

    However, I do agree with one thing he is saying…and that there has been a distinctly anti-Israel slant to a lot of the press. When Hamas is making their headquarters under a hospital, and storing and firing rockets from a school, it is bound to cause problems for Israel to strike at solely military targets. This is a favorite tactic of many of the extremist Islamic groups, sheltering behind their own children and women to prevent retailiation from being effective. Yet you rarely see any form of outrage when they target suicide attacks at innocents in a church or at a market in Israel. But the entire problem is going to require the wisdom of Soloman to resolve.

    January 12, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  15. USMC - Mike

    To LOL in NC,
    "Something smells…when is America going to flush!"

    America can't flush b/c the toilet is broken here and JTP is in Israel ...

    January 12, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. XMinusOne@gmail.com

    If the media should be abolished from covering the war, then he's suggesting that no one report on anything; what happens, happens. However, if he had principles, then he would have said, no, he's not going to be a reporter covering the war.

    Even if we suggest that reporters don't know the whole story half the time, saying the media, therefore, should have no business covering the story means that the story just doesn't get covered, at all. And, the press and the public (all sides of the public) know nothing because you don't want the public to know what's happening. When the public (and subsequently he Congress) knows nothing, you allow bad deeds to happen without recourse.

    As for his saying that he wanted to cover Israel's side because
    he thought the media was slanting the story to make it look like “Israel’s being bad....” Well, if you're covering one side because you're saying reporting is making them look bad, it appears that you want to make them look good in your reporting. Is that any more credible reporting, saying, essentially, "Hey, let me tell you why the Israelis are the good guys and the other guys are the bad guys."

    I'm fascinated with his saying "I’m in the bunker, I’m sitting there angry, outright furious, that I’m letting this terrorist dictate what I’m going to do because they’re firing missiles. It was fear at first, then outright anger, and then me wanting some kind of retribution. I’m not a person that runs from things, but when it’s a missile, you run.”

    You're there as a reporter; why are you getting angry, and outright furious by a "terrorist" dictating what you're going to do? It's a war. Each side is going to try to dictate what they can. However, you're not there to be an observer; you elected to go there as a reporter. To report. To tell the story of what's going on. You have no right to want retribution because you put yourself into harms way, because you decided you wanted to cover the war. If you don't want to be in harms way, if you don't want to run from missiles, then be somewhere else. It's not like you had no choice in being where missiles were being dropped.

    If you want to be a reporter, be a journalist, then be one; cover the story and report on the facts that you saw or learned to the best of your ability. But don't say others are skewing the story by saying this or that, and then you providing "balance" by saying things you believe. If you're providing commentary, rather than reporting, say so. If you're reporting, report the facts and leave the commentary to the side, clearly identified as "this is my commentary to my reporting; this is what I think... not what I've seen, but what I think; what I believe; this is my commentary on the story I've impartially reported."

    January 12, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  17. Mike from NJ

    Why are you reporting on this, CNN? Let him report for whatever niche crazy-person news outlet this is, and allow the 14.6 viewers there to watch him with rapt attention, and weigh in on his interesting anecdotes, and deeeeep insight, accordingly. But why are you publicizing for this person??

    January 12, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. Don

    So does Joe include himself in the ban? This guy is such a joke.

    January 12, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. Sam Jones

    Personally, I think this story would have been better had it been conducted by The Rock:

    Joe: "I think the media shouldn't ..."

    Rock: It doesn't matter what you think jabroni!

    [Rock lays the smack down on Joe.]

    Wouldn't that be entertaining CNN?

    January 12, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. Rick in WA

    Reporters should go and report on anything, anywhere they wish. However, they should not be guaranteed any degree of safety by the participants in the war. War is ugly. People die. It is naive to think any country could engage in war without civilians dying. In what kind of world are the civilian population not responsible for the actions of their elected government? (Notice I am limiting this to countries with an elected government; I believe that Hamas was the elected majority party of the Palestinian people.) They have two choices. They can defeat Israel in war; or they can elect a government that does not lob rockets into Israel.

    January 12, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. Mike in Ca

    News for idiots, reported by an idiot.

    January 12, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. John. Austin, TX

    ...right... that's the most flawed logic i've ever heard. a baboon feeding other baboons- thats what i see when i read joe will be reporting for republicans.

    January 12, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. lamuella

    why should anyone care what this brainless dullard thinks about anything? Every time he opens his mouth he shows he has no business speaking on any issue.

    January 12, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. carment

    When I think of the sterling journalists of the past who have covered war, and then see this - this -

    January 12, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. James

    Awesome comment "Laughing in Texas"!!

    January 12, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
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