Johnstown, PA is the sleepy epicenter of Rep. John Murtha's Congressional District Known mainly to outsiders as an old-timey former retreat for Pittsburgh industrialists during the Gilded Age and for a disastrous 1889 flood, for which Pennsylvanians are still paying (some day I'll do a post on the state's alcohol monopoly, a corrupt and feeble system of Soviet proportions), Johnstown has certainly seen better days and isn't likely to regain the status it once held when timber and iron propelled its economy.
But the town does boast a TV station, WJAC, and lucky for us that it is not immune to the maladies that afflict media in larger markets. Witness this recent story on the return of the 876 Engineer Battalion. I won't quote from the printed blurb, since it is quite sort, but also because WJAC doesn't want to be quoted or called on the shoddy piece of Murtha love that they have aired.
The gist of the story (with video) is that "many" returning soldiers are "standing up" for Murtha's position to bring home the troops. Well, "many" troops tell Katie Sabatino that they are making progress in Iraq, so one is left to wonder how that supports Murtha's position. But Sabatino pointedly asks no one in particular if the progress "justifies" the war. Huh? Sh also interviews a Sergeant First Class George Wozniak who says that Murtha's comments have boosted morale, but doesn't explain exactly how that has happened. However, and this is telling, Sgt. Wozniak directly contradicts Sabatino's assertions by saying that an immediate pullout--Murtha's mantra-- is not a good idea at all.
In fact, there is not one quote that directly supports Murtha's position. Moreover, Sabatino mentions a poll (without citation) that 43% of Southwestern Pennsylvanians "feel the troops should come home." Now, I'm no professional, but maybe a little more detail would be in order. For instance, what how were these questions posed? Did they ask anything about timing or criteria? I'm willing to wager that the vast majority of Western Pennsylvanians want the troops home, albeit under many varied circumstances. Are we to conclude that 57% of our fellow citizens want the troops never to return? Now how callous is that? We must the Commonwealth of Bastards.
The implicit assertion is that large numbers of civilians and soldiers support Murtha, when there is no evidence cited to back up such a claim. The only conclusions that can be made here is that: 1) (benefit of the doubt version) either Ms Sabatino is a sloppy reporter who does not understand basic reportage or; 2) (jaded media consumer version) Ms Sabatino is cynically trying to shoehorn her views into a exploitative piece of hackery.
Either way, I would say that Katie Sabatino has a bright future in journalism. I hear that CBS has a few openings.