When Napoleon Byars retired from a long career as a Public Affairs Officer in the military, he didn’t imagine that he be raked over the coals on TV for advocating that both the military and the press have important but different jobs and that we need to be well served by both. But last night this on air and on the O’Reilly site:

Talking Points Memo & Top Story
Mainstream media & the terror war
Guest: Journalism professor Napoleon Byars

“Today The New York Times ran a story pinpointing countries in Europe that have allowed CIA planes to land on their soil in ongoing operations after 9/11. That story gives America’s enemies information and it could encourage Al Qaeda to attack the countries that helped the USA. That’s speculative, but there’s no question European countries are under pressure not to help the CIA. Does that help you and your family? If the world will not cooperate with the Central Intelligence Agency, doesn’t that make it easier for terrorists to operate? Of course it does. This never would have happened during World War II; Franklin Roosevelt created an office of censorship in 1941 and pressure was put on American news organizations not to publish information ‘that the enemy might be interested in.’ Today we’re fighting World War III, but every day the American press puts forth information the enemy might be interested in. Now this is very difficult territory. The American public has a right to know how the Bush administration is waging the war on terror. But there comes a point when the media has to decide if the information they are disseminating is going to damage the war effort. We are appealing to the American press to help fight the terrorists rather than to use the conflict to promote a political point of view. Let’s do what’s good for the country; is that too much to ask?”

UNC Journalism professor Napoleon Byars had a different perspective. “I think they both have a job, the media and the military. Let’s face it, the American public is better served, I think, when it gets information and it can make its own choices about how the war is going.” The Factor said that the media could certainly draw a line with its reporting. “CIA landings pinpointed by The New York Times? I don’t mind any exposition on policy, but on tactics and pinpointing what the CIA, where they’re going, I think that puts us all in grave danger.”