Lazy or Just Stupid?

I report, you decide…  On second thought, I decide.

Some days I wonder how people whose entire job constitutes collecting basic facts and information, and then publishing them for mass consumption, can’t seem to correctly relay said basic facts and information.

Two days ago, MND Peter MacKay was visiting Patrol Base Wilson when he was subjected to rocket attack by Taliban forces.  Fortunately the Minister was not hurt, as he and the attending reporters were hustled off into armored vehicles.  Later, Minister MacKay was extracted by helicopter.

MacKay was conducting private meetings at Forward Operating Base Wilson, about 20 kilometres west of Kandahar city, when the attack occurred.

After the first rocket landed around 11 a.m. local time, Mackay was taken into an armoured vehicle for safety.

….Bill Graveland, a reporter for The Canadian Press who was at the forward operating base with MacKay, told CTV Newsnet the attacks were likely spurred by the increase in helicopter activity at the base.

— “MacKay unhurt in rocket attack on Afghan base”, News Staff, November 6th, 2007.

[emphasis mine]

First of all, FOB Wilson (formerly Camp Arrow) is near Ad Dawr, Iraq.  That’s a thousand miles away from PB [Patrol Base] Wilson, which is the name of the ISAF facility west of Kandahar City.

I realise that reading comprehension is not high on the list of required skills for some media outlets, that military facility names can be confusing, and further, that no one in the “real world” is going to catch this error.   But since both bases tend to get mentioned in dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively, the nomenclature is nonetheless important.  So CTV, CBC, CP, Bill Graveland, Graeme Smith, Bruce Campion-Smith and Allan Woods, try to locate the officer in charge, and then ask him the name of his damned command.  Don’t take my word for it—see what the guys on the ground there call it.

Second, who knows the name of this aircraft (photo lifted from CTV’s story)?


That’s right, it’s a UH-60 Blackhawk.  The same type of helicopter that evacuated Minister MacKay, and according to CTV, this image was taken the same day.  CTV’s photo caption identifies it as “a helicopter from a NATO country”, which is true enough.  And they do identify it as a Blackhawk in the story itself.  Only two NATO countries operate the UH-60, the United States and Turkey; and both have contributed UH-60s to support the ISAF mission.

How hard would it be to call somebody at ISAF HQ (perhaps the Air Component Commander) and ask whether it’s Turkish or American helos that evacuated the MND?  My understanding is that the Turkish UH-60 element provides support around Kabul, plus they have a distinct camo scheme, including a big Turkish flag on the bottom of the fuselage.

Which would make this guy an American UH-60.  Not too hard to figure out.

So is there some kind of bad media juju in admitting that the Canadian MND was evacuated by an American aircrew (and equipment)?  Or was everyone just too damn lazy to find out?

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One Response
  1. gorthos says:

    As a person who received media studies training for a few years (before I realized here was little money in it ha ha!) I am amazed at the lack of proper research that goes into stories on CBC, CTV and even CNN often enough. I mean seriously, they even get the grammar, pronunciation and facts skewed at times that 5 minutes on Google would fix so well.
    Yes, i am still annoyed that an unnamed CBC radio news reading female person kept callnig it Hurricane Knoll last week.. Its NO-El. like Kal-El or Jor-El.. What does she sing at CBC Christmas carol get together in Ottawa?? Egad!