FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2007
 
CNN Snubs Veteran’s Issues During YouTube Presidential Debate
 
If you are a veteran, or the family member of a veteran, or you are currently serving on active duty, you were probably very disappointed and even embarrassed by the content of Wednesday night’s televised debate. The CNN regulated YouTube video questions ranged from tax cuts, to illegal aliens, to gays in the military, to the New York Yankees and Red Socks baseball teams. Apparently, the news crew at CNN felt these were the most important issues of the 2008 Presidential Election. Some of the submitted video productions were very clever and featured cartoon illustrated questions. One video showcased one Mr. Jay “NRA supporter” Fox firing live rounds from an assault rifle in a reckless way and catching a loaded pump shotgun thrown to him from off camera. The only thing missing was a dog and pony. During the two hour broadcast, several candidates referred to our troops and bragged about the success of the current ‘surge’ in Iraq. But, not once did any of the candidates address the future of our troop’s healthcare, or show concern for their earned future benefits, entitlements, or services.
 
In spite of all this, and according to CNN’s crack correspondent, Anderson Cooper “It was a fascinating debate” and “The candidates took it all on tonight!” A review of the 4927 YouTube video submissions reveals several very legitimate questions about veteran’s affairs, renewable energy, education, and national healthcare. Obviously, CNN felt no obligation to air any of these questions. Apparently, Mr. Anderson Cooper and CNN felt baseball and homosexuality was more worthy of nationwide recognition - then squeezing in a meaningless question about our disabled and retired veterans and their earned healthcare. The question I have for CNN is; if you don’t ask the Republicans the same questions as the Democrats, how in the hell are we suppose to know the differences between candidates on any particular issue?
 
The low point of Wednesday night’s CNN debate coverage was when Retired Army, Brigadier General, Keith Kerr delivered a very lengthy comment on gays in the military - in addition to his YouTube video submission. At one point, it appeared CNN intentionally cut the General’s microphone off in an effort to get him to sit down and shut up. It was extremely obvious that everyone on the stage was very uncomfortable with the General’s disgraceful display. According to my clock, General Kerr and homosexuality were given the most time of all the CNN YouTube submissions. Evidently, General Kerr feels ‘gay rights’ in the military is the most important problem and urgent situation facing our military personnel and their families today. I’m certain our wounded troops recovering at Walter Reed and Brook Army Medical Center were glad to hear that. CNN later reported that General Kerr was a registered Democrat and political operative from the Hilary Clinton camp, and that he (General Kerr) infiltrated the CNN debate (at the invitation and expense of CNN) in an effort to embarrass the Republican candidates. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against homosexuals or generals. However, I really don’t think this issue deserved a reserved front-row seat at the Presidential debate.       
 
Over the past few months, several of the Democratic Presidential Candidates have publicly endorsed mandatory full funding for veteran’s healthcare, yet, not one Republican has been asked to address this very important issue. During past televised Democratic debates the subject of veteran’s healthcare has been openly discussed, but the very same subject has been omitted in all of the Republican debates. Democratic Presidential Candidate, Bill Richardson has even published a comprehensive veteran’s healthcare plan, including the introduction of a HERO health card which would allow eligible veterans to access local medical services outside of the VA. To view a list of OFFE Resolution endorsements, visit;
http://offe2008.org/public_html/resolution.htm
 
Now, I know some will accuse me of just being ‘jealous’ that baseball and gay rights received national coverage and a few questions I personally thought were more important weren’t asked. Well, jealous is the wrong word. I was insulted that the Yankees and Red Socks baseball teams trumped the urgent healthcare needs of all of our troops. I was incensed that several very legitimate questions were omitted from the program in order to showcase the improper and dangerous way to handle a loaded firearm. I was embarrassed that Retired Army General Kerr would put his personal sexual preference above the greater good and healthcare needs of all former military personnel. I was offended that CNN and Anderson Cooper chose the YouTube video submissions based on entertainment and shock value rather than substance. And I was disappointed to see this country’s news media cares so little about the immediate needs of our veterans. Jealousy has nothing to do with it.
 
Thank you Mr. Anderson Cooper and CNN for dropping the ball! CNN might know about New York baseball, but they have no idea what the score is. I would love to have been a fly on the wall at that pre-debate CNN production meeting. “Well, Anderson, we have enough time for one more question, what do you suggest? How about a question about baseball, or man on man sex in the military?  BRILLIANT!”
 
Operation Firing For Effect (OFFE) is a bi-partisan grassroots leader in the battle for full mandatory funding for VA healthcare. Last year, OFFE authored a Resolution for full mandatory funding for veteran’s healthcare. As of this date, OFFE’s Resolution has been signed by a number of prominent politicians and high profile celebrities such as, Willie Nelson, Bill Cosby, Senator Hilary Clinton, and Governor Bill Richardson just to name a few. The OFFE Resolution has been endorsed by several major Labor Unions, including the AFL/CIO. Voters in several counties in Illinois (led by Cook County) will see a question on their February 5, 2008 Primary Election Ballot concerning full funding for the VA. And the necessary paperwork has been filed to put the very same question about veteran’s healthcare on the California General Election ballot. There is very little doubt that veteran’s healthcare is on the minds of many voters, and they deserve to hear from the candidates on this issue before they cast their vote, not after.  Last Wednesday night’s CNN YouTube fiasco was far from informative or focused. The American public learned nothing about the candidates. No, wait! I take that back! I did learn something! I learned that the New York Yankees won 4 World Series Championships while Rudy Giuliani was Mayor. And I also learned Senator John McCain believes the U.S. never lost a battle in Vietnam. The Senator obviously wasn’t on my last patrol in Vietnam when my patrol was ambushed and we got our collective asses kicked, but I digress. The point being, nothing of any real substance was revealed during Wednesday’s CNN YouTube debate.   
 
If you are tired of the political parlor games and you are fed up with the same old canned responses from our politicians, the time has come for you to get involved. If you would like to join the OFFE Team and help us improve and protect the entitlements and services earned by our men and women in uniform, please visit; www.offe2008.org. We are also asking all former military personnel and their families and supporters to contact CNN and comment on this issue.
 
Here is a link to just one example of a question rejected by CNN.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a311ncaqlU
 
If you are fed up with our former military personnel being treated as second-class citizens, we suggest you tune in to ‘VFVC Live on the Air’ every Tuesday night at 9PM [EST] on Stardust radio. You can listen to the program on you computer at www.stardustradio.com.  The time to stand up and be counted is NOW!
    
Operation Firing For Effect (OFFE) is a bi-partisan Veterans Advocacy group, and subsidiary of Veterans For Veteran Connection, Inc., a 501(c)19 non-profit corporation devoted to the protection and improvement of entitlements and services earned by our men and women in uniform. OFFE does not endorse political candidates running for office. OFFE does report on issues of importance to our former military personnel and their families and that includes ‘News’ from both sides of the aisle. OFFE will grant equal time to any candidate (regardless of political affiliation) who wishes to share and explain their position(s) on ‘Veterans’ Affairs’.
Please give this article the widest possible distribution.
 
Jere Beery
National Public Relations Director
Operation Firing For Effect
www.offe2008.org