Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | April 9, 2003

Puh-lease: Geraldo, conscientious objector, Olin

Tell, me what do these recent events have in common?

***

How is it that FOX News, employer of correspondent Geraldo Rivera, has not fired the man? Rivera revealed troop positions and movements on live television, yet he still is employed by the 24-hour news network.

NBC News and National Geographic canned Peter Arnett after his lapse of journalistic judgment – presenting his opinions in an interview with Iraqi television. But as of this writing, to my knowledge FOX News has not fired or even reprimanded Rivera. Instead, network brass have defended him, asserting that Rivera’s map-in-the-sand stunt was just an “inadvertent” violation of the rules.

It seems to me that the channel’s viewers, who tend to be on the right-wing end of the political spectrum, would be outraged by Rivera’s behavior, which military leaders said endangered U.S. and coalition troops.

Why aren’t FOX News fans – and George Clooney-and-Ludacris critic/FOX News staple Bill O’Reilly – demanding the network fire Rivera?

***

It seems to me that “conscientious objector” and “all-volunteer military” are mutually exclusive concepts.

That’s why I’m having a hard time understanding why Lance Cpl. Stephen Funk, 20, ever enlisted in the Marine reserves. If you’ve got problems with killing and war, why would you volunteer to be a Marine?

I can only guess that Funk was gambling he wouldn’t have to do any of the dirty work – shooting other people, endangering himself – while reaping the educational and financial benefits of reserve duty. Unfortunately for Funk, his bluff was called.

“I wasn’t thinking about violence … how my beliefs against violence would be challenged,” Funk told reporters before he surrendered for being AWOL after failing to report for active duty. “I was just thinking of it as something to do as I passed by time to become a California resident, and to learn new things.”

Pardon me if I’m not convinced.

***

What’s up with Olin Corp.?

First, the company, which has admitted its now-closed road flare factory caused the perchlorate plume now snaking through San Martin-area groundwater, says it can’t get a plan to clean up the soil and groundwater its Morgan Hill site ready by the regional water board’s March 31 deadline. Can’t be done, Olin officials said a few days before the deadline, until we study the myriad ways to remove perchlorate.

Then, poof, on March 31, Olin delivers a plan. Well, technically, half a plan. Company officials presented their ideas for cleaning the soil, but say the groundwater portion of the report won’t be ready until June 30.

Then, Olin tries to pay $450,000 of Morgan Hill’s $710,000 “documentation of costs” (not a bill) incurred when it had to drill a new well. It seems the perchlorate from Olin’s factory contaminated a nearby municipal well, forcing the city to drill a new one. Olin refused to reimburse legal expenses and city staff time spent working on the new well.

Morgan Hill rightly returned Olin’s check uncashed.

Olin’s actions are at odds with its assertion that it accepts responsibility for the perchlorate pollution it caused. Foot-dragging on contamination cleanup and refusal to reimburse Morgan Hill’s full costs are not consistent with that claim.

***

The common thread for these seemingly disparate episodes? The puh-lease factor. That word, forced into two syllables, accompanied by head-shaking disbelief and a dramatic roll of the eyes, was my reaction to each of these events. FOX News defends, not cans, Rivera? Puh-lease. A conscientious objector who’s also a volunteer? Puh-lease. Olin can’t meet its deadline or pay the entire cost of a new city well? Say it with me this time: Puh-lease.

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