[See UPDATES below, including links to bio info.]
Late last night I mentioned the shocking, still unexplained news that John P "Jack" Wheeler, a graduate of West Point -- and Harvard Business School and Yale Law -- who had devoted his professional life to healing the after-effects of the Vietnam war, had been murdered in Delaware.
So how does FoxNews.Com decide to present this story?
This is beyond parody. Or shame.
Jack Wheeler cared deeply about public issues, his politics were increasingly conservative, and he held jobs with the federal government under various Bush (and Reagan) administrations. But he was a "Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force" -- not some White House aide -- in the GW Bush era, and, according to his personal CV (pdf here), was briefly part of the "Bush Transition Team to Create Earth Conservation Corps" for George HW Bush. That's his dossier in "politics." (FWIW, he also worked as a young lawyer at the SEC, starting when Jimmy Carter was in office.)
What he actually cared about was civic values and civic virtue; the health of the military; the welfare and self-respect of his fellow veterans; the future direction of great institutions where he had studied (West Point, Yale, Harvard); the long struggle to complete the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; the ongoing effort to restore ROTC programs at Harvard and other elite schools; the level of ethics in public discussion; a number of issues involving disabled children. And more. Recently he paid increasing attention to the nuances of the "cyberwar" threat, and the rise of China. He was a very complicated man, of many parts. But if you gave me ten hours to come up with a thousand descriptions of him, I still would not have thought of.... "Former Bush Aide."
That's the thought that came first to Fox. This tells me more than any number of critiques about the ways Fox differs from a "news" organization.
I am very saddened by Jack Wheeler's loss, but I'm angry that his life would be reduced to a little marker in the neverending partisan wars.
UPDATE: I see that New York Magazine, MSNBC, and some other outlets have also gone with variations on "Former Bush & Reagan Aide" headlines, but based on what I can tell from the Google News history, Fox was the first to use that ID.
ALSO: Many people have asked where they can find out more about Jack Wheeler. Rick Atkinson's Long Grey Line is the obvious place to start, but this site has some of Jack's most recent writings, thoughts, activities, and so on.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.