Foley's reply: Silence
Memorial Day has come and gone, and so I figured that Newspaper Guild president Linda Foley would now be willing to go on the record and explain her claim that the US military deliberately kills journalists in Iraq.
I was wrong. I phoned the Guild yesterday and left a message for Foley. The callback came about an hour later, but the person on the line was Candice Johnson, the capable and affable spokeswoman for the Communication Workers of America, the Guild's parent union.
Johnson told me that Foley would speak to me off the record as a union member, but not for publication on a blog or anywhere else. I told her that this was unacceptable; Foley made her claim in a public venue and should have to defend it publicly. I also explained to her that Foley's decision to make her inflammatory claim without evidence to back it up put the entire profession of journalism in a bad light. Johnson was courteous, and (dare I say it?) sympathetic, but she could do no more.
Well, she did do a little more. She actually tried to defend her boss. "Her point during that panel," said Foley, "was to talk about how journalists have been scapegoated by forces in society...there are hundreds of journalists killed every year. This has raised concerns among journalists, the Guild included."
No argument there. This is indeed the sort of issue I'd expect the Guild to address. But does Foley really believe that soldiers, sailors and Marines are under orders to whack reporters? Johnson replied, "That’s not ever been said by anybody."
I then read her the relevant portion of Foley's remarks, in which she appears to be saying exactly that. Johnson replied that she didn't interpret Foley's words as I did. "I interpret it as a call for the investigation of the deaths of journalists," Johnson said.
Well, that's where things stand. We're having a union election at our newspaper. I think I'll run as a write-in candidate, in an effort to draw attention to this bizarre incident.