Since its launch four years ago, the website Task & Purpose has built an ardent following among veterans, military personnel, and defense intellectuals with smart, unvarnished coverage of military issues and veterans’ affairs. This week, the site analyzed President Donald Trump’s proposed Space Force, described security careers for veterans, and led with a follow-up to one of its own scoops on the wounding of a Marine: “The Pentagon Is Trying To Spin The Truth Of How A Marine Got Shot in Syria.”
Given this brand of journalism and its 2.5 million monthly readers, the news a week ago that its top editor had resigned over alleged interference by the site’s CEO was jarring and troubling. Adam Weinstein, the acting managing editor, announced in a tweet that he had resigned after the CEO and founder, Zach Iscol, had asked to change a headline on a ProPublica investigation into Trump’s influence over the Department of Veterans Affairs that referenced “three non-vet Mar-a-Lago members” running the agency. In the tweet, Weinstein said the attempted headline change was “the latest in a series of such demands over our editorial content.”
While Iscol denied ever attempting to “censor or change Task & Purpose reporting,” he acknowledged having asked Weinstein to change the headline, before backing off, and said he had now established clearer lines of authority to ensure newsroom independence. The broader issue at play, according to Weinstein and numerous contributors and staff members, involves Iscol’s sensitivity to attacks from conservatives in or close to the military who see the site as too crusading and focused on social issues affecting a diverse defense community.