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The Real Story Behind the Letters to the GI Story

Reported by Ellen - February 24, 2005

Last night, during the second hour of his FOX News radio show, Alan Colmes hosted one of the parents of the so-called "slur" letter-writers vilified in The New York Post, a sister company to FOX News, and by Sean Hannity the night before. This story got a lot of sensationalized coverage that was neatly packaged into one of FOX's favorite subjects - schools forcing their liberal agenda on students. But as Colmes revealed tonight the real story is how The NY Post, Hannity and the other right-wing media slanted and distorted the facts to fit their own agenda.

Here's how the Post told the story of letters sent to a GI from sixth-graders in Brooklyn writing their thoughts on the war in Iraq:

The GI got the ranting missives last month from pint-sized pen pals at JHS 51 in Park Slope.

Filled with political diatribes, the letters — excerpts of which were printed in yesterday's Post — predicted GIs would die by the tens of thousands, accused soldiers of killing Iraqi civilians and bashed President Bush.

Teacher Alex Kunhardt had his students write Jacobs as part of a social-studies assignment.

Monique Massa (sp?), one of the sixth-grade Moms, told a vastly different story. She talked about a teacher she described as "excellent" and "a great teacher" who gave his students the assignment to write to a fictional soldier or veteran with their thoughts on the war. According to Massa, this was a creative way to engage the students in current events and consider the experiences of people beyond the classroom. She said the students didn't know the letters were going to be sent and that the students were really "just putting their feelings to paper."

Colmes read her daughter's letter which contained no slurs but was very supportive of the troops. The daughter's letter was grossly mischaracterized in the Post as saying that only 50 or 100 soldiers would survive. In fact, she said she feared that only 50 or 100 would survive, that she missed them, that she hoped the soldiers would come home safe and sound. Colmes said that he read every one of the students' letters, that none of them were derogatory to the troops and that they expressed support and sympathy.

Judging from what Colmes read, some of the letters did seem to express SOME doubts about the nature of the mission, though, and that seems to be what the Post is objecting to without having the courage or honesty to confront it head on, without shamelessly demonizing and exploiting a group of children for its own polictical purposes.

Besides baselessly whipping up controversy and division among the public, Massa also revealed the personal cost to her child who had become a pawn in someone else's game (while pointing a finger at the other side for promoting propaganda). She explained how upset her daughter is for being portrayed as not caring about the troops when, in fact, the opposite is true. Massa's husband is a police officer and is also on the front line of protecting our country. As she put it, her daughter is well aware of what is at stake.

Judging from the hate-filled calls and emails Alan received, Massa's daughter seems more sophisticated, more sensitive and more aware of what's happening in our world than much of the FOX audience.

Mark in Huntsville, TX (Texas strikes again!) started off the calls with, "How could you possibly in good conscience think that it's OK... I can understand the windbag that you're talking to there... She's one of these touchy-feely, typical New Yorkers... not appreciating (Colmes talked over him) the military to destroy the sub-human Islamic... that it's OK to send a letter to our heroes... With your New York accent, you sound unpleasant no matter what you say."

Kudos to Colmes for covering this story which shows so clearly the effects of tabloidization of our news. Extra credit is also deserved given that it involved the Post, a subsidiary of News Corp. which also owns FOX News.

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