[February 04, 2014] A couple of days ago, I wrote about two Washington Post articles by reporter Craig Whitlock who claims the U.S. military has a “culture of toxic military leaders.” The focus of that blog post was that leadership demands that toxic leadership not be hidden and should be resolved without partiality.
I also pointed out that those articles were not completely truthful. Unfortunately, the leadership at many national news organizations have allowed a culture of bias and reporting errors to creep into their once great newspapers. I will write more about this later.
Specifically, these Washington Post articles are problematic for several reasons.
First, and this is the most important point, there is no “culture of toxic military leadership” in the military. Such behavior is unacceptable to their value systems and is abhorrent to everyone, senior officers in particular. Furthermore, the number of incidents cited (even if true), involve an extremely small fraction of the flag officers. This seemed to have been missed in the reporting.
Second, through military service Inspector General’s offices, the military can find bad leaders. The military command system then takes action to repair the problem. This hardly rates as toxic leadership … actually the opposite in that this is the sign of a very healthy organization.
Third, there are factual errors in that the articles make it appear that these events actually occurred. In some cases that may be the case but in others it was not the case and was determined the “victims” gave that false testimony.
The military culture is one of honor, courage, and commitment to the country. Those values are clear and officers pledge themselves to it. News media organizations do not.