Pfc. Bradley Manning is the only suspect in the Wikileaks scandal that may have endangered both American soldiers in Afghanistan and their Afghan allies. He is now in custody awaiting court martial. Manning worked in intelligence and was stationed for a time outside Baghdad. I have no insight into whether Private Manning is guilty or not; presumably the facts will come out in his court martial. I am struck, however, by the lack of curiosity the American press has shown about Private Manning.
Manning’s mother is British. She married an American and lived in the U.S. for some years; Bradley was born here. His parents divorced and she brought him back to Wales in 2001. The Telegraph took the trouble of interviewing some of Manning’s friends and family members in the U.K., and checking out his Facebook page. The results are interesting.
First, Private Manning is openly homosexual. Did you know that? I didn’t; if the fact has been reported in the American press, I’ve missed it. Moreover, Manning was an activist who demonstrated against Congress’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. His Facebook includes a photo of him at a gay rights rally, holding a sign demanding equality on “the battlefield.” Further, he has posted anti-military comments on his Facebook page. An uncle describes him as “an introverted kid who loved computers and was fired up politically.” That tantalizing reference is left hanging. Whether he was fired up about something other than gay rights remains unknown, for the moment.
These are facts that would no doubt be of interest to American readers, yet, as so often happens, our reporters and editors appear to be engaged in a policy of collective discretion. Imagine, though, if Manning had been a tea partier, if he had been photographed holding an anti-government sign at a tea party rally, and if friends described him as being “fired up” about conservative politics. Do you think those facts would be prominently featured in the media narrative about the leaks?
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