Obama coverage reveals nausea-inducing bias

Terry Garlock's picture

Much has been said about the press’ adoring coverage of Obama while they nearly ignore McCain. My friend, Alex Nides, who lives in Tyrone with his wife Fran, told me recently about one way the media ignored McCain, a peek at the bias from an angle you probably won’t hear anywhere else.

ABC News recently aired a piece on the historic fire aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal 41 years ago. Alex was a Navy yeoman on that ship on that fateful day, and he was incredulous that ABC never even mentioned in their report that John McCain was involved in that incident and was nearly killed. Here’s how Alex tells the story.

The USS Forrestal was the flagship for the main battle group of the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet, carrying on bombing missions over North Vietnam from a point in the South China Sea called Yankee Station. The flight deck was always a beehive of activity, launching jets in groups called strikes, recovering them as they landed after completing missions, day and night.

A strike of A-4E Skyhawks was waiting for it’s turn to launch on the morning of July 29, 1967, when an electrical surge in an F-4 Phantom II leaped past safety measures and accidently fired an air-to-ground MK-32 Zuni five-inch rocket held in a four-rocket canister under its wing.

The Zuni shot across the flight deck, hit a sailor in the shoulder, and struck the fuel-laden drop tank of one of the A-4E Skyhawks, the one piloted by Lt. Cmdr. John McCain.

The warhead did not detonate because it had not traveled far enough to arm itself, but McCain’s A-4E fuel tank ruptured and ignited, spreading flaming fuel across the deck and throughout the horseshoe of aircraft on the flight deck aft. Several 1,000-pound bombs were knocked off their racks under the wings and rolled around in the fire.

While the pilot in the aircraft next to McCain was killed, McCain escaped the flames by climbing out onto the nose of his aircraft, jumping into the fire below and scrambling clear.

The fire sped from one plane to another. Chief Aviation Boatswains Mate Gerald Farrier walked toward the first of the 1,000-pounders engulfed in the flames, spraying it with a hand-held fire extinguisher, attempting to cool it off to give the pilots a chance to escape their planes.

Ninety-four seconds after the fire started at about 10:50 a.m., the first of the bombs exploded. Chief Farrier disappeared in the blast and the first trained team of firefighters was wiped out.

In all, nine of the 1,000-pounders detonated, rending huge holes in the armored flight deck down which thousands of gallons of flaming jet fuel poured into the heart of the ship.

The crew operating below decks knew something was amiss when the bombs shook the ship, then the boatswains mate of the watch on the bridge got on the 1MC — the general ship wide communications net — and rang a bell followed by words that are ingrained forever in Alex’s memory, “Fire, fire, fire ... Fire on the flight deck aft!”

He began again, “Fire, fire!” He paused for a second, then continued, “General quarters, general quarters, all hands man your battle stations!”

The ship was in deep trouble. Bombs blew holes through seven or eight decks. Flaming jet fuel poured through holes blown by bombs, starting new fires below. Crews in the hangar deck were desperately unloading missiles off jets to remove them to safety, forced to do their work by touch because they couldn’t see through the dense smoke.

Far below, off-shift sailors had been sleeping in their bunks. When the bombs began to detonate, one compartment was cut off and 50 men were killed; 41 died in another compartment.

Sailors stopped the pumping of jet fuel to the flight deck and drained all the fuel in the pipes.

Fires were very close to ammunition storage lockers in the bottom of the ship and getting dangerously close to oxygen generators and storage compartments. If these didn’t blow the ship to kingdom come, it stood in danger of capsizing as thousands of tons of salt water from fire hoses accumulated and the ship took a dangerous list to port and aft.

Imagine a huge warship longer than three football fields end to end, rolling over bottom up with 5,000 lives aboard.

Chief Engineering Officer Cmdr. Merv Rowland began pumping fuel and oil to the starboard tanks to counterbalance the list and reduce the risk of capsizing.

Off Hanger Bay 3, Robert Clark was the sole sailor in the compartment with the ship’s oxygen-generating plant and a tank of 800 pounds of highly explosive liquid oxygen. Clark was sealed off from the rest of the ship while the fire heated his space, peeling the paint from the hot bulkheads. Clark was slowly draining the tank as instructed, and sweating like hell, Alex guessed, as he used a one-inch drain hose stretched to an outside sponson, an open partial deck outside the hull to drain the explosive mix as he dodged flaming debris falling from the decks above.

The “bomb farm” on the flight deck stored hundreds of bombs on the starboard side of the towering island where the command and control functions were located. The crew pushed and rolled bombs and other weapons over the side, and they used tractors to move aircraft forward away from the fire.

Alex was helping push aircraft from one hangar to another on below decks when a man slipped and fell overboard. There was nothing they could do to save him amidst the dire emergency. Alex said he never even knew the man’s name.

The USS Mackenzie on the starboard side and USS Rupertus on the port side, both destroyers, maneuvered dangerously close to the Forrestal, dodging bombs and aircraft that were pushed over the side, to direct their fire hoses to hard-to-reach burning areas.

USS Tucker and other ships picked up crew and bodies in the water and chased off small Vietnamese boats that were closing in on sailors in the water.

The carriers USS Bon Homme Richard, aka “The Bonnie Dick,” and USS Oriskany ferried the seriously injured to their medical departments while the hospital ship USS Repose raced from Da Nang to meet up with the ships at Yankee Station.

There were real heroes on the ship that day. Alex was told 130-pound Lt. Otis Kight lifted and threw overboard a 250-pound bomb. The explosive ordnance demolition officer, Lt. (jg.) Robert Cates, defused and jettisoned one 500-pound and one 750-pound bomb that were on the flight deck smoking from the heat.

A team of men with fire hoses charged the intense fire and were vaporized as several 500-pound bombs cooked off, leaving just cut-off hoses spewing water and huge holes in the deck.

Alex in particular remembers three sailors who manned their battle station in the port aft steering compartment, the ones who would steer the ship in case control was lost from the ship’s bridge. All three were seriously wounded, and yet they stayed at their station as fires closed in on them, making escape impossible.

Still in touch with Damage Control Central, they managed to execute the last order from Cmdr. Rowland, who listened as they died, one by one. Their names are James Blaskis, Ronald Ogring, and Kenneth Fasth.

Had they lived, they would be in their early sixties, enjoying their families. But they didn’t, and the surviving crew remembers them and other lost shipmates every July 29 for the last 41 years.

A very tired crew conquered the deck fires in a few hours. Fires in various places below continued to burn and took several days to control. More sailors died as salt water and battery acid combined to create chlorine gas in the confined areas where they fought the flames.

USS Forrestal lost 134 killed that day, 161 badly injured and 18 missing or unidentifiable. Twenty-one aircraft were destroyed and 40 damaged. It was the worst U.S. Navy disaster since World War II.

With the fire subdued, USS Forrestal limped home for major repairs and never returned to Vietnam. Like John McCain and many others, Alex returned to Yankee Station on another ship to finish his duty in the war.

To those who lived through the intensity of nearly losing the ship, the fire is always close in their memory; it never goes away.

I would imagine it must be the same intense memory for John McCain, even though he had an even more intense experience as a POW for five years and was tortured — real torture, not the kindergarten variety our politicians call torture today in a finger-pointing blame game.

I know Obama’s posturing in Europe was big news both here and there, and news coverage of his trip was warranted, whether fawning and overdone or not. But still, for those of us who appreciate the risks our men and women in uniform take every day, it sure seems when an event like the USS Forrestal fire is recounted by the very same media, the other guy running for president who was there in the heart of the fire, serving his country and risking his neck, probably deserved at least a mention, a few words, just a sound bite or two acknowledging that he was part of it and narrowly escaped with his life.

But I understand the press was too busy shining the shoes of a man who used his youth quite differently, a man who has served a total of 143 days in the U.S. Senate without one notable achievement, a man so many in the news media seem desperate to sell to you, the voter.

My friend Alex Nides says he disagrees with half of John McCain’s political positions, but he can sum in one word his reaction to the way an empty shirt speaking platitudes is glorified on TV news while the service of his shipmate John McCain is ignored: nauseous.

[Terry Garlock, a certified financial planner, lives in Peachtree City. His email is tgarlock@mindspring.com. Dr. Alex Nides, a retired schoolteacher, lives in Tyrone. His email is anides@aol.com.]

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AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 9:18am.

You know that a lie told often enough can become truth. I believe you are a victim of this NPR and Fox News myth told very, very often. Certainly you know that an exhaustive, non-partisan analysis was done comparing Barack's coverage to McCain's. The study found conclusively that Barack received more negative coverage. Even McCain can only talk about Obama (in a very negative and immature way I might add). If you are trying to fault a politician for being popular, you are in for a long four + years!

If your candidate can start fact-checking his ads before he runs them and has to amend them, he might find better grounds for argument.

By the way, I did the "heavy lifting" for you. Here is a portion of the Report from The Center for Media and Public Affairs:

"The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.

You read it right: tougher on the Democrat.

During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.

Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center."

Kevin "Hack" King

ps: Was Ronald Reagan a celebrity? Was his popularity a problem?

Submitted by TyroneTerror on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 10:13am.

Terry G's point was not so much that the press never says anything negative about Obama. The point is that they give him so much more air time.


Obama’s bad press has come at a time when he was much more visible than McCain. Since June 8, he (Obama) has been the subject of 120 stories on the three network evening news shows, 50% more than John McCain’s 80 stories.

Just like most Liberals, Hack slices out his "truth", not the whole truth.

I'll give the Democrats and the Obama people their due, they did their research and know that most Americans are so lazy and shallow that they just take what they hear as gospel rather than do any research. They know that "brand recognition" is where it's at.

Obama isn't a candidate anymore, he's a brand, something the Democrats are hoping the American people will buy, because their ads tell them to.

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Fri, 08/01/2008 - 7:08pm.

Perhaps a contributing reason is that he has much more to say.

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 10:22am.

"Just like most Liberals, Hack slices out his "truth", not the whole truth."

"Terry G's point was not so much that the press never says anything negative about Obama. The point is that they give him so much more air time."

Terrible tyrone person, does Fox cover Obama or McCain more?

Does conservative NPR cover Obama or McCain more?

So, mr. terrible, conservative outlets are obviously part of the liberal media problem under your argument, right? They give Obama many times more stories than McSame. Care to explain? Even McCain talks more about Obama than what HE himself has in mind for us. McCain is also part of the liberal media bias. Aww man! That stinks for you guys.

Do research here in the blogs or in the Citizen editorials. Who is talked about more, Obama or McCain? So now, the conservative bloggers and writers are part of the media bias. Richard Hobbs is one of the key problem children, having written many, many more blogs on Obama. He is personally part of your media bias. That is, if your logic holds water.....

Kevin "Hack" King

Submitted by TyroneTerror on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 12:32pm.

since logic doesn't fit anywhere in your Democratic, Liberal, or "oh lets be nice to the terrorists and they'll leave us alone",arguments.

So I will graciously decline so as to not embarass you.

But I will answer your questions.

I didn't look at the details of it, but your source, "THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS" , has a headline under the Election Watch 2008 that states
"Election Study Finds Media Hit Hillary Hardest: Obama, Huckabee fare best; Fox is most balanced (not a typo). " So your source says Fox was the most balanced at that time.

As for NPR, who cares or listens to that crap anyway.

Get a grip, you can't turn on a television or radio news cast and not hear Obama's name at least once in the first minute. Its obvious who gets the most coverage and its backed up by YOUR source!

Whether the coverage is Negative or Positive, Its coverage and most people like I said before just buy whatever they are familiar with, same with their voting.

Mr Terror.

Ruth Kimble's picture
Submitted by Ruth Kimble on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 9:56am.

Sure after months and months of fawning messianic coverage of the "annointed one", the pendulum is starting to swing the other way. He is finally getting some negative coverage. So what. Long overdue.

Finally, the media is starting to do their job. The love affair is over.

The real story here is that despite months and months of fawning coverage, the polls show the race is very close. I don't put much faith in polls, though.

Prediction: Obama is going to have a very tough time maintaining his slim (statistically negligible) lead in the polls. Get ready for a huge disappointment in November.

But don't worry. I won't say, "I told you so."

Ruth Kimble

Submitted by patches on Fri, 08/01/2008 - 10:00pm.

I love your avatar, could you make one with Obama like a fruitcake?

If he wins I think we will play this song:

click 3 Dog Night

When he's out of office we will play this song.
click 3 Dog Night

Submitted by patches on Fri, 08/01/2008 - 10:06pm.

I love Ruth's avatar.

Then you know how I love music. I was about 11 years old when I heard these songs. I think if Obama wins made me think of these songs. The problem is I like the songs. They fit him, Liar to go in "The White House" and "Joy To The World" to go out.

I don't think Obama would be glad for our country.

Have a nice night.

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 10:11am.

"Finally, the media is starting to do their job. The love affair is over."

So, it looks like you agree that this "The media is nice to Obama" whining done by the GOP is a non-starter. Glad we agree!

Kevin "Hack" King

rock78's picture
Submitted by rock78 on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 9:40am.

Would you mind linking the analysis you referenced above? I've seen some dramtically different studies than you've mentioned, so I'm curious.

AF A-10's picture
Submitted by AF A-10 on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 10:37am.

I'm so used to seeing mindless attack stuff, that it was refreshing to see someone actually speaking civilly. Thanks a million, and here is the link. I encourage you to scroll up a bit and analyze tyronethe terrible's analysis on this.

Study on media bias

Cheers, and thank you!

Kevin "Hack" King

Submitted by bowser on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 7:02am.

Could you please provide a link or transcript for the ABC News story your friend said he saw? I looked high and low and cannot find any evidence of it on their site or anywhere else.

As for the heavy press coverage of Obama's trip, as far as I can tell the dominant theme of said coverage has been -- moaning and groaning about the heavy press coverage.

Submitted by bowser on Sun, 08/10/2008 - 11:51am.

Well, it's been a couple weeks and no response. I'll take that as a no, he cannot provide any proof of the anecdote on which this column is based.

JeffC's picture
Submitted by JeffC on Thu, 07/31/2008 - 11:04am.

I looked all over for it and could not find anything remotely resembling TG's story. All I could find were some "today in history" items of only a few sentences. I don't think it was a ABC News story because I searched the transcripts. Maybe something else on ABC or something on the History Channel?

In any event, if anybody has a link I'd like to see it.

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