Too many reporters, who would call themselves journalists, are good at reporting what they find in official press releases, but lousy at finding the real story behind the story.
I ran into another one in my quest to get to the bottom of what has been happening in Kingsville, Texas, this past week.
If you missed the stories about the Army Knight Stalkers and Operation Last Dance, be sure to click here to get the details.
Journalists covering the same story for different media outlets will often compare notes and share information to help each other. It was one of my first phone calls when I learned about the incident in Kingsville.
A local resident told me he had seen a reporter from the Kingsville Record, a small local paper, observing the military exercise. Not unusual considering the paper’s office is across the street from the very location where it all happened.
The resident told me he saw the police stop a reporter from taking pictures. He complied by putting the camera away. He made no effort to assert his rights under the First Amendment. He just caved in when he had an important opportunity. Perhaps the greatest opportunity of his career.
It was a natural phone call to make. I was transferred to Bob Odum, the reporter who covered the event. He told me that he couldn’t talk because he was with someone, and he asked me to call back.
After several tries to get him later in the day, I gave up and used other sources for information.
WorldNetDaily teamed up with Austin talk show host Alex Jones to get someone to the location and report for us. He did a great job of getting interviews and pictures. Alex told me he was thrown out of the Kingsville Record when he tried to interview a reporter there.
I decided to call Odum back, even though several days had now passed. What a surprise I got, but so typical of reporters today. Odum had done a great job telling the story of what happened to the local people. His couple of articles told the version of what happened from the view of the Army public affairs officer and the local police chief.
He didn’t dig into the story or take any chances. No risk. He just told the official line. There is a raging controversy, but Odum wants to stay out of it.
Here is our conversation. It seems obvious that he has been intimidated and frightened by small town political power grabbers who control a little town of many people who are equally scared of their leaders.
Bresnahan: “May I ask you questions about what you saw?”
Odum: “I’ve had literally 30 or 40 calls on this. I’ve even had people come in. I can’t understand what y’all are lookin’ for.”
Bresnahan: “Have you been told by somebody not to talk about it?”
Odum: “No. Good lord, no. Actually, if you read the Caller-Times story and our story, they’re almost identical.”
Bresnahan: “Have you gone into any of those buildings?”
Odum: “Oh lord, yeah.”
Bresnahan: “Have you seen the bullet holes?”
Odum: “To me, I don’t know what y’all are lookin’ for. We’ve had several conspiracy people come by. We’ve had all kinds of people.”
Bresnahan: “Well, did you see the bullet holes?”
Odum: “There’s all kinds of things in there.”
Bresnahan: “Did you see the armor-piercing shell casings that were on the floor?”
Odum: “Look, as one reporter to another I’m not. I’m just not.”
Bresnahan: “I’m trying to find someone else who’s seen this stuff.”
Odum: “I have not been in the building since the event took place. I have not. That’s the honest truth.”
Bresnahan: “So you haven’t seen that stuff?”
Odum: “Not inside. No.”
(He was the only reporter on the scene of a very important event. He was frightened out of taking pictures, and five days later had still not even poked his head in a window. How sad.)
Bresnahan: “Was that police station really abandoned, or was it still in use? I’m told there’s still computers in there and desks and file cabinets. It looked like people were working in there right up until this took place.”
Odum: “That’s absurd (laughing). Have you talked to the police department?”
Bresnahan: “Yes I have.”
Odum: “Surely they would have told you.”
Bresnahan: “Well, as you know as a reporter, sometimes official sources tell you only what they want you to know.”
Odum: “I guarantee you, that building was abandoned. They can’t even give it away.”
Bresnahan: “There’s no computers and desks and things in there?”
Odum: “If there’s anything in there, it’s set for the junk yard. That I will assure you. They have a brand new police center. They have not used that jail for years.”
Bresnahan: “What kind of history do we have, apparently the chief has got some problems with police brutality accusations. What kind of validity do those ….”
Odum: “Don’t talk to me about that. Please. Talk to him. He’ll talk to ya.”
Bresnahan: “I have talked to him.”
Odum: “I have nothing to say on his behalf.”
Bresnahan: “I’m not asking you to speak on his behalf. I’m asking you as a reporter. Have you covered that sort of stuff?”
Odum: “We cover it all the time. We’ve had many stories on it. I invite you to read our paper, but I’m not gonna serve as a source of news for ya. I’m a reporter. I shouldn’t do that.”
Bresnahan: “Hum, that’s interesting. I’ve been a reporter since 1971 and I share information with other reporters all the time.”
Odum: “No, I certainly don’t do that.”
Bresnahan: “You have a great day.”
Odum: “Thank you very much.”
Odum is the perfect example of how so many members of the press today have become total wimps when it comes to reporting. Whether it’s in a little town filled with power-hungry politicians, or in our nation’s capital, filled with power-hungry politicians.
Politicians everywhere have become experts at manipulation and intimidation. Too many members of the press have become easily manipulated and are easily intimidated.