Dr Laura Schlessinger, Deryk Schlessinger MySpace Investigation
Army Wraps Up MySpace Probe, SLC Reporter At Issue
The US Army has wrapped up its probe into allegations that radio talk show host Dr Laura Schlessinger's son Deryk was responsible for a lurid MySpace page while serving his country in Afghanistan, according to a Santa Barbara newspaper.
On both sides of the debate, however, many questions remain unresolved, including the motivations of the reporter who first broke the story. His reports were subsequently picked up by the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and other publications, with the controversy briefly proving damaging for Dr Laura's career.
The Santa Barbara Independent is reporting that the Army is not indicating whether Deryk was innocent or guilty of the allegations, but left open the possibility that other soldiers had access to the page and might have added the offensive content. They have ruled out enemy sabotage, however.
Since he continues to serve in Afghanistan, any punishment must have been light, if imposed at all. Your Radio Equalizer covered this controversy extensively in May, when these allegations first surfaced.
From their report:
It seems the final chapter has an open ending in the Deryk Schlessinger saga, which began last May when Salt Lake Tribune reporter Matthew LaPlante discovered that the son of Santa Barbara resident Laura Schlessinger, a.k.a. Dr. Laura, was the subject of a military investigation.
Tipped off by a former schoolmate of the soldier’s, LaPlante reported that Deryk Schlessinger’s MySpace page was awash in objectionable material, from the aforementioned images to written entries such as “I LOVE MY JOB, it takes everything reckless and deviant and heathenistic and just overall bad about me and hyper focuses these traits into my job of running around this horrid place doing nasty things to people that deserve it . . . and some that don't.”
When Independent.com repackaged and localized LaPlante’s story on May 22, it became one of our most emailed and widely read articles to date. It was then also picked up by both the Los Angeles Times, who interviewed this reporter, and the Washington Post, among other newspapers. Since then, multiple people have called The Independent asking what happened to the investigation, and that public interest is the primary reason for this update.
While LaPlante apparently tipped off the Army about Schlessinger’s MySpace page, the Pentagon was already in the midst of shutting down soldier access to such social networking sites because of security concerns and bandwidth pressures. And one of those security concerns was that “our enemies” could be possibly behind objectionable material on soldiers’ websites, according to Army spokesman Robert Tallman. He was quoted in LaPlante’s article as saying, “It may be possible that our enemies are actually behind this. Our enemies are adaptive, technologically sophisticated, and truly understand the importance of the information battlespace. Sadly, they will use that space to promulgate and disseminate untrue propaganda.”
While the Army's vague public statements aren't likely to satisfy the lefty anti-Laura crowd (who went nuts when the story first broke), the real ongoing focus should be on the actions of Salt Lake Tribune reporter Matthew LaPlante, who moved well into the territory of journalistic advocacy by actually tipping off the military as to the website's existence.
One might assume a reporter would defend himself by saying he merely phoned the Army for a statement in the course of investigating a story, but LaPlante had a previous history of attacking her, to the point where the paper received a number of complaints from readers. That makes it difficult to trust his motivations. To defend LaPlante, the Tribune shrugged off this criticism, claiming it came from a campaign by Laura's fans.
But LaPlante didn't do himself any favors by refusing to appear on the FOX News Channel with Bill O'Reilly and Dr Laura in May, where he would have been given a chance to better explain his actions.
It's one thing to investigate a story based on a tip, that's what reporters do for a living. When one seems determined to ruin the career of another based on a political agenda or even a personal vendetta, that's another matter entirely.
In this case, it appears LaPlante was looking to capture the trophy for bringing down a major and decidedly un- leftist talk show host, which has been the particular aim of many in the mainstream media since the firing of Don Imus earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Dr Laura continues to raise money for war veterans and their families. On September 11, she will take part in an effort to support injured Marines. From a press release:
Dr. Laura Schlessinger to Perform in Circus Vargas and Take Pie in Face to Honor American Heroes on September 11
LAGUNA HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Radio personality and best-selling author Dr. Laura Schlessinger will be a special guest performer in Circus Vargas when it honors America’s heroes at its 7:30 p.m. show, Tuesday, September 11 under the big top at the Laguna Hills Mall. All firefighters, police officers and military personnel will be admitted free and Circus Vargas will donate 100% of the proceeds from all tickets sold to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. In addition to performing in the show, Dr. Laura will be taking a pie in the face from the top bidder at intermission in auction to raise money for the fund.
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund provides financial assistance to injured Marines and other service members injured while in support of Marine Units, and to their families. The fund provides a grant which may help with financial needs such as travel, childcare, lodging or problems resulting from lost family wages. Assistance is also given for long-term needs such as modified homes and vans. Since its inception, the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund has provided more than $12 million in assistance to wounded heroes.
"I am happy to join Circus Vargas in honoring America's heroes on a day that has come to symbolize so much to our country,” said Dr. Schlessinger. “The work that the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund does is so important to help give back to the families that have sacrificed so much for all of us."
Though the Army may have finished its investigation, don't expect the left to let this one go anytime soon.
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