Pentagon report on homosexual policy buries the lead—the majority of views expressed were against repeal.
Dec. 3, 2010
When a journalist does not reveal the most important part of a news story until the middle of it, instead of opening with it, its known as burying the lead.
This appears to be what the Pentagon has done with the report of its Comprehensive Review Working Group (CRWG) on the subject of homosexuality in the military.
The report, and most of the media coverage, emphasized the conclusion from a survey of Service members that 70% of Service members predicted it [repeal of the current law] would have a positive, mixed, or no effect.
However, as we have already noted, interpreting the mixed category as being supportive of repeal is questionable at best. Advocates of repeal do not agree that it would affect the military equally as positively as negatively, which is what the mixed response refers to. We could just as easily note that 62% of respondents believed that repeal would have at least some negative effects.
The even more revealing statement, however, does not appear in the reports Executive Summary at all, but only shows up on page 49. Referring to responses in focus groups and other forums which were provided to allow feedback from the troops, the CRWG was forced to admit that our sense is that the majority of views expressed were against repeal of the current policy.
Of course, the report hastily notes that these were not scientifically representative samples of the force as a whole, and the survey was. However, as we must repeatedly point out, the survey did not ask whether respondents were for or against overturning the current law. Hence these less formal media were the only way for the troops to express their views on the central issue.
Whenever you hear that vague and misleading 70% figure, remember that buried lead on p. 49that the majority of views expressed were against repeal.