60 Minutes Gives Convicted (BUT PARDONED!) War Crimer Eddie Gallagher A Lovely Tongue Bath
CBS's once hard-hitting news magazine show "60 Minutes" did an astonishingly bad piece yesterday on Eddie Gallagher, the former Navy SEAL who is much beloved of Donald Trump. It's a hell of a puff piece on a convicted (BUT PARDONED!!) (BUT ALSO NOT EXONERATED!!!) war criminal, as interviewer David Martin presents Gallagher much as he wants to be seen: the victim of a massive conspiracy to ruin the good name of a great warrior. Lt. William Calley could only have dreamed of such a sympathetic portrayal.
Let's just say that the citizens of Twitter were not fans: Look at the ratio of comments to "likes" on this promotional tweet:
There's covering both sides, and then there's journalistic malpractice; the 60 Minutes Gallagher piece almost looks like something that could run on Fox News, but for a few moments when Martin at least gestures to the barbarity of what Gallager was accused of.
Guess conservatives will finally stop accusing "60 Minutes" of having a liberal bias now, huh?
The story is framed almost entirely from the point of view of Gallagher and his attorney, Tim Parlatore; and while it does discuss other accusations against Gallagher, like that claim that he killed two Iraqi civilians, that's largely glossed over. No mention at all of Gallagher's alleged attempts to intimidate witnesses, or of his recent video doxxing the SEALS who testified against him and hinting they still need to pay for what they did.
Instead, Martin is happy to let Gallagher suggest that the SEALS who reported him to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service were simply a bunch of cowards who couldn't hack tough assignments. Sure, maybe they said he was "freaking evil" and "toxic," but maybe that's because, as members of the military's most elite branch, they were millennial pussweenies.
Martin did at least get Gallagher to admit that his trophy photo with the corpse of a 15-year-old ISIS fighter he was accused (and acquitted) of killing was "wrong," although Gallagher added that his conviction (LATER PARDONED!) (BUT NOT LATER EXONERATED!!!) on taking the photo itself was totally unfair.
Gallagher: It's wrong. I'll say it's wrong now. I've definitely learned ... learned my lesson. It's distasteful.
Martin: It's more than just bad taste, it's against the law of war. It's illegal.
Gallagher: I'm pretty sure I'm the first person ever to go to a general court-martial for it, for taking a picture,. It's been done on previous deployments.
This is the moment where Martin could have pointed out that while Gallagher was convicted (AND LATER PARDONED!) (BUT STILL NOT EXONERATED!!!) for the trophy photo, that wasn't exactly the main charge he was tried for. There was that bit where he was accused of stabbing the prisoner to death. But we are treated to a close-up of the trophy photo, and Gallagher pointing out there's no blood on the knife or him, so clearly he was innocent. The story makes much of the fact — twice in the 14-minute segment — that forensic experts found no blood on the knife, although there is the small matter of how Gallagher wasn't arrested until a year and some months after the May 2017 death of the captive.
Gallagher also explains that in the photo, where he's holding the knife right next to the dead kid's head as he holds it up like a deer, he was simply trying to "look tough." Further, when he texted the photo to friends with the message "Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife," that wasn't him bragging about a murder, heavens no: "I know how bad it looks when it gets out into the public, which it was never supposed to. It was like a joke text. Dark humor."
Gosh, some people just don't understand wit!
We meet Gallagher's attorney, Tim Parlatore, who is presented as a pit bull for justice. And we learn that the Navy investigators were not nice people at all!
Martin (in voiceover): By the time Parlatore signed on, Gallagher was already in the brig, and the full weight of the federal government had descended on his family. NCIS agents executed what they called a standard search warrant at his home when only his two sons, ages eight and 18, were there.
Parlatore (back in interview setting): They dragged the kids out of the house, at gunpoint, in their underwear. Didn't give them the opportunity to get dressed. Searched the house.
Martin: Did they have a valid search warrant?
Parlatore: They did. But the way that they did it was excessive.
Martin: This was a murder case.
Parlatore: Yeah. The suspect was already in custody. This was pure intimidation.
Martin: Did it work?
Parlatore: No. It just made Eddie mad. And more importantly, it made Andrea Gallagher mad.
Then we get both Gallaghers interviewed together, with Andrea Gallagher cast sympathetically, a wronged mother outraged that in her America, investigators would be "fully kitted up like they're going to war" to gather evidence from someone's home.
She's not wrong, either. It's an excellent argument against excessively militarized policing. Which, not incidentally, gets applied every day, and usually against people who aren't accused war criminals. But those folks don't have the nation's chief executive and an entire rightwing news network portraying them as the unfairly abused victims, so those other less sympathetic folks probably deserve to have their dogs shot and their children's faces disfigured at a minimum, if stronger measures like killing them in their own homes aren't called for. The real outrage here is that War Criminal/Hero Eddie Gallagher's family was treated like a common black person with a warrant for anything.
Sorry, we digress.
And yes, the prosecution in the case was full of sleazy behavior, although that doesn't make Gallagher innocent. What really got him acquitted was a top witness testifying — after getting full immunity — that he, the witness, had actually been the one to kill the kid, by blocking off his breathing tube. "60 Minutes" frames the moment as a bit of brilliant lawyering by Parlatore, who happened to seize on the witness's saying the prisoner had "asphyxiated," not bled out.
The possibility that it was all a big favor to Gallagher by an immunized witness who had previously said he'd seen Gallagher stab the victim doesn't get mentioned, because why would anyone lie in court?
We get to see Gallagher's home gym and "glory wall," complete with a photo in a frame with the team's motto, "Kill 'em all," which is more dark humor. HOLLOW MORDANT LAUGHTER, and also some fact-checking on Twitter by New York Times reporter David Philipps, who notes that "motto" was news to the men in the platoon.
Then Martin gets to see the knife itself, wow, and we get to see him unsheath it, wow what a piece of history!
"No blood was ever found on the knife, although it has become tarnished over time," Martin intones. "Much like the reputations of so many that have been involved in this case."
And now, so has the reputation of CBS News, which probably still won't be loved by Donald Trump. For whom Gallagher says he'd be happy to campaign, because after all, Trump saved his life.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.