Journalist Morley Safer passed away on May 19, 2016 at the age of 84. In a 5-20-16 article entitled "Pentagon Official Once Told Morley Safer That Reporters Who Believe the Government Are 'Stupid,'" Joe Schwarz of The Intercept insists that the most important story Safer ever covered involved a Pentagon official named Arthur Sylvester, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs during the Vietnam War. In 1966, Safer published a newspaper column in which he repeated a comment Sylvester made to a group of American journalists in Saigon: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? — stupid.”
What follow are a few choice excerpts from Schwarz's article:
"...Sylvester absolutely meant what he said. By the time he met with the
journalists in Saigon he’d already told some of the key U.S. government
lies about the Cuban missile crisis and the Gulf of Tonkin.
"You’d think this would have made an impression on American media
outlets. And that going forward, they wouldn’t be so 'stupid' as to
believe what they were being told.
"But in the 50 years since, from essentially everything the Nixon administration said about Vietnam, to the Reagan administration’s claims justifying the invasion of Grenada, to the George H.W. Bush administration justifying the Gulf War because Iraqi forces were massed on the border of Saudi Arabia, to the Clinton administration’s wild exaggerations about Serbian violence in Kosovo, to essentially everything the Bush administration said about Iraq, to Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper denying
the National Security Agency gathers data on millions of Americans,
most of the U.S. media has been, as Sylvester put it, 'stupid.'
"Time and again, members of the Washington press corps
have credulously accepted officials’ lies and misinformation and passed
them on to their readers as the truth. Their real-time skepticism is
almost nonexistent. And they keep doing it.
"If you look at the last few weeks of the New York Times, you’ll learn that U.S. officials say that American troops in Yemen 'are working at the headquarters’ level and are not near the front lines' and
that a Navy SEAL killed in Iraq 'was two to three miles behind the
front lines' when it happened. Do you think they’re telling the truth?
Assuming that would be stupid.
"And the important precedent you won’t find mentioned in either New York Times story is that John F. Kennedy initially lied about U.S. advisers being involved in combat in Vietnam, and Ronald Reagan lied about U.S. advisers being involved in combat in El Salvador. (A 1984 Miami Herald
story quoted an Army officer who said the military would go so far as
to fly dead American soldiers home from Indochina and 'insert a body or
two into the wreckage' of helicopter crashes on U.S. army bases.)
"Safer’s death should remind us of what the media consistently forgets."
To read Schwarz's entire article, click HERE.