CBS’s “Sunday Morning” yesterday aired a remarkable segment that broadsided the national media for refusing to give our nation’s fallen soldiers the attention they deserve. Martha Gillis offered an uninterrupted, 3-minute monologue sharing the pain of losing her nephew, 1st Lt. Brian Bradshaw, who was killed on June 25 by an IED in Afghanistan. Gillis faulted the media for its virtual non-coverage, which, as NewsBusters reported last week, amounted to just 1/20th the broadcast network evening newscast airtime given to Michael Jackson's death.
In a statement released today, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell applauded CBS for the tribute (click here to view it online):
Congratulations to CBS News. This is nothing short of remarkably candid journalism. The raw emotion of 1st Lt. Bradshaw’s aunt Martha Gillis is heartbreaking. It moves the audience to see undue suffering – caused by the media – for a family that has already been crushed by the death of one of their young.
The CBS Evening News may have only devoted 13 seconds last Monday night to the deaths of seven soldiers in Afghanistan -- as Katie Couric anchored from the Staples Center the night before the Michael Jackson memorial -- and just 15 seconds Wednesday night to their caskets arriving back in the U.S., but the producers of CBS's Sunday Morning should be commended for giving Martha Gillis, the aunt of an Army Lieutenant killed in Afghanistan the same day Jackson died, an “opinion” segment in which she conveyed the frustration of military families over the media's misplaced priorities.
“My 24-year-old nephew, Brian Bradshaw, was killed by an IED in Afghanistan on June 25th, but you'd never have known it from the national media. I cannot tell you how that silence added to the pain of losing this bright, funny, thoughtful young man,” Gillis began as she expressed the “pain shared by many of the 4,000-plus grieving families whose loved ones have sacrificed their lives in two wars that have largely disappeared from the news.” Enhancing the impact of her words, CBS interweaved still shots from the procession and funeral for 1st Lt. Brian N. Bradshaw.
After recounting the respect and support from those she encountered as she attended her nephew's funeral, Gillis powerfully concluded:
Once I left town, though, soldier's deaths once again became invisible. Because of the incredible kindness of the people of Steilacoom, Washington, I wonder how many other people, in Maine or Texas or New York City, would also have honored Brian and the other soldiers who have died in the last two weeks if the media had simply let them know: Somebody's little boy, all grown up, died today. Someone's little girl found out today that Daddy is never coming home.
That news is hard to bear. When the nation they died for barely notices, it's crushing.
Last Tuesday, NewsBusters Editor-at-Large Brent Baker noted that seven soldiers who had been killed the week prior in Afghanistan received just 1/20th of the evening newscast time that ABC, CBS, and NBC devoted to the passing of pop star Michael Jackson.
The same day, NewsBusters Publisher and Media Research Center President Brent Bozell slammed the broadcast networks in a statement: "There is no justification for determining that the death of a celebrity over a week ago merits 20 times more news coverage than the tragic deaths of American soldiers in Afghanistan."
Perhaps in some measure reacting to the criticism, CBS's "Sunday Morning" program yesterday aired a nearly 3-minute-long opinion segment featuring Martha Gillis, whose nephew, 1st Lt. Brian Bradshaw, was killed on June 25 in Afghanistan.
In the video, Gillis criticized the media for its lack of coverage [audio available here]:
Army 1st Lt. Brian N. Bradshaw was killed in Afghanistan, fighting in a war to protect all Americans, the same day that Michael Jackson died, prompting a letter to the Washington Post, which the paper published on Sunday, from Bradshaw's aunt, Martha Gillis, who scolded media priorities:
My nephew, Brian Bradshaw, was killed by an explosive device in Afghanistan on June 25, the same day that Michael Jackson died. Mr. Jackson received days of wall-to-wall coverage in the media. Where was the coverage of my nephew or the other soldiers who died that week? There were several of them, and our family crossed paths with the family of another fallen soldier at Dover Air Force Base, where the bodies come “home.” Only the media in Brian's hometown [in Washington State] and where he was stationed before his deployment [Alaska] covered his death.
In the letter the Post headlined, “A Life of Worth, Overlooked,” Gillis, a resident of the Washington, DC suburb of Springfield, Virginia, fondly recalled: “He had old-fashioned values and believed that military service was patriotic and that actions counted more than talk. He wasn't much for talking, although he could communicate volumes with a raised eyebrow.”