Unlike TIME, NBC's Savannah Guthrie, Reuters Refuses to Call Bradley Manning 'She'

We at NewsBusters have repeatedly raked Reuters over the coals for years now on various issues -- particularly their steadfast refusal in numerous stories to call terrorists "terrorists." But today a kudos is in order as the news wire -- in reporting Private Bradley Manning's desire to undergo hormone therapy to take on the persona of a woman named Chelsea -- refuses to call Manning a "she," something that Time magazine and NBC's Savannah Guthrie, among other journalists, are doing.

In Susan Heavey and Ian Simpson's 24-paragraph story this afternoon, the only times Manning was described as a "she" was when his lawyer was directly quoted [article accessed via ChicagoTribune.com]:


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier sentenced to 35 years in military prison for the biggest breach of classified documents in the nation's history, said on Thursday he is female and wants to live as a woman named Chelsea.

Manning, 25, launched an unprecedented bid to get female hormone treatment in a military prison a day after he was sentenced for leaking documents to the WikiLeaks website.

"As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning, I am a female," Manning said in the statement read by anchorwoman Savannah Guthrie on NBC News' "Today" show.

During the sentencing phase of Manning's court-martial for leaking more than 700,000 secret documents, defense attorneys pointed out that the soldier suffered from gender identity disorder. A psychologist testified Manning had a difficult time adjusting to the "hypermasculine environment" of a combat zone.

Manning said in the statement that he wished to begin receiving hormone therapy while serving his sentence in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

A spokeswoman said the Army did not provide hormone therapy or gender-reassignment surgery, but that military inmates have access to mental health professionals, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers and behavioral science specialists.

"Given the way that I feel and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible," Manning said in the statement. "I also request that starting today you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun."

Manning's lawyer David Coombs said on the TV program he expected his client to get a pardon from U.S. President Barack Obama. Manning, who was convicted last month at Fort Meade, Maryland, on 20 charges, including espionage and theft, could be eligible for parole in seven years.

During the trial, Coombs had argued that Manning had been increasingly isolated and under intense stress when he leaked the files, and that his superiors had ignored warning signs.

Coombs said his client was not seeking gender-reassignment surgery, but he would press Fort Leavenworth to provide hormone therapy for Manning.

"I'm hoping that Fort Leavenworth will do the right thing and provide that. If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that they are forced to do so," Coombs said.

'COMFORTABLE IN HER SKIN'

Asked if Manning wanted to be sent to a women's prison, Coombs said no.

"I think the ultimate goal is to be comfortable in her skin and to be the person that she's never had an opportunity to be," he said.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters