Conservative Media’s Lack Of Empathy For Bowe Bergdahl And His Family Is Sickening



On Saturday, the President of the United States announced that the last American prisoner of war, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, had been released by the Taliban after nearly five years in captivity. The announcement was made in the Rose Garden and the President was joined by Bergdahl’s parents. However, by Wednesday, what should have been an uplifting story about the United States not giving up hope on retrieving every last soldier imprisoned by enemy combatants had been twisted into a dark tale of deception, desertion, treason and appeasement of terrorists. Republicans in Washington and the right-wing media decided to push all-in by claiming the President had negotiated with terrorists and endangered the nation’s security in order to save an anti-American deserter who deserved to be held as a prisoner indefinitely by the Taliban.

While the President is sadly used to this type of behavior from the right, it is highly doubtful that Bergdahl and his family was prepared to be such a huge target of disdain and scrutiny. The Bergdahls have had to deal with the awful reality of their son being held captive by the Taliban for nearly five years, not knowing if they’d ever get to see him again. Instead of being allowed to feel joy in the knowledge that their son will be returning home soon, they’ve had to endure numerous taunts from media figures, who have stated that Sgt. Bergdahl’s father, Bob Bergdahl, looks like a Muslim and a member of the Taliban, and have complained about comments he’s made.

For the right-wing media, nothing is off-limits when it comes to discrediting the President and finding any way possible to tie him to a scandal in order to run him out of the White House. Everything is fair game. Therefore, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and his parents are going to be subjected to this scorched earth campaign, where Bergdahl is going to be called a traitor, a deserter and a treasonous anti-American who sought out and collaborated with the Taliban. At the same time, his father is going to be labeled a terrorist sympathizer who wants to join his son as a member of the Taliban. All of this is just an inroads to smear President Obama. If conservatives are able to get any traction with these despicable tactics, they will continue. However, if they sense that the general public isn’t buying this latest made-up scandal, they will move on. But there will be no apology for the damage done from their actions.

It isn’t just the normal mudslingers that we are used to, either. Sure, far-right websites like Breitbart, National Review Online, The Drudge Report, Daily Caller and WND have all published dozens of articles and blogs tearing apart Bergdahl on a personal level. And, of course, Fox News has spent hours of airtime allowing guests and contributors to prattle on about whether or not Bergdahl deserved to be rescued and if we should have just left him with the Taliban. However, mainstream media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post have allowed emotionally charged screeds to be published, while MSNBC has treated the story like Hollywood celeb gossip. An example of this type of coverage was exhibited on Wednesday’s episode of Morning Joe.



Whatever questions there are about Bergdahl’s service, his potential desertion of his post and the actions taken that lead to his capture will be dealt with by the Army. The fact is, he was an active member of the service who was held prisoner by the enemy. It was this nation’s duty to get him back, regardless of his personal politics or feelings towards his country or service. Constantly disparaging and denigrating him and his family only piles on to the ordeal that all of them have had to deal with these past five years. This man was held captive by enemy combatants. His parents spent day after day, month after month, year after year wondering if he’d ever make his way back home. Now that he’s been rescued, all of them are subjected to even more anguish brought on by pundits and politicians, who are only looking to rile up Obama-haters ahead of the midterm elections.

Thankfully, there are some people who have already spoken out against this irresponsible and sickening display by the right. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters wrote an opinion piece Wednesday. In it, he took Fox News to task for its abhorrent behavior as of late.

When an emotional Jani and Robert Bergdahl strode into the White House Rose Garden on Saturday to the share the emotional announcement by President Obama that their son, Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would be returning home after being held captive for five years by the Taliban, it’s unlikely they could have foreseen that their family would soon be under attack by the right-wing media, or that Robert Bergdahl would be depicted on Fox News as a possible terrorist sympathizer; mocked on national television as he awaited a reunion with his ailing son.

They couldn’t have foreseen it because I don’t think it’s ever happened before. I don’t think we’ve ever seen a dedicated media campaign to not only undermine a returning prisoner of war, but to also cast doubt onto the soldier’s family; to portray them as un-American even as they prepare for their reunion.

Instead, Fox News has helped transform the prisoner swap involving Taliban detainees into “an increasingly vicious partisan issue,” as Buzzfeed described the Republican decision to go into relentless attack mode, complete with enlisted publicists and strategists, to subvert the return of an American POW.

It’s symptomatic of a conservative media mini-mob that now obsessively politicizing everything, and does it all with the knob turned up to 11.

Another piece that was released on Wednesday was written by Shane Bauer at Mother Jones. Bauer, as you may recall, spent 26 months in an Iranian prison before finally having his release negotiated in 2011. If anyone can truly relate to what Bergdahl might be experiencing right now, it is Bauer. In his article, an open letter to Bergdahl, he tells the returning POW that he will “need to relearn how to be a person.” Bauer also advised Bergdahl that he’d have to deal with some very nasty things directed his via the media.

You will have infinitely more support than most prisoners do when they are released. People will recognize you on the street and welcome you home. But you’ll soon discover that others, in op-eds, blogs, and emails, say terrible things. You’ll find that many are blaming you for your own captivity. Ironically, these are generally people who feel very strongly that your captors are their enemies. Some of them think you should be punished further. You’ll see that many blame you for the deaths of American soldiers, rather than blame the war itself. Blaming the victim is always a way to protect the powerful.


At the end of his piece, Bauer adds a postscript asking a favor from his fellow journalists:


It would be nice—though its hard to imagine—if the media didn’t descend on Bowe Bergdahl like a pack of wolves. When I was released from Iran, some journalists tried to squeeze their way onto my flight home. One tried to embed with our families as they waited for Josh’s and my release, even though our relatives were very clear that they did not want this.

There are some things more important than a scoop. Nothing special will be added to the world if you are the first person to interview this man; you will only satisfy your own ego. He is new to the world. He is going through the slow process of coming to grips with freedom, to being able to function on his own. Don’t prey on him. Give him a chance.


We can only hope. But I think we know that this won’t be the case.

48 Replies to “Conservative Media’s Lack Of Empathy For Bowe Bergdahl And His Family Is Sickening”

  1. Republicans/Conservatives and their bastard children the teabaggers have no soul. They have no empathy. They are a cancer. And what do with a cancer? You nuke it, use chemicals and if all else fail you cut off the infected limb.That is all

  2. As a veteran who served honorably I feel I am qualified to have an opinion on this ordeal. NO MATTER WHAT you DO NOT leave a man behind. I don’t care what the circumstances are or what conditions exist you DO NOT ever leave a man behind. That is such a basic belief that is instilled in your very soul.

    Did he serve honorably? I don’t know. I am not qualified to know. What I do know is that this guy is entitled to due process. That is a right that I fought to defend. Even for the right wing idiots.

    In my opinion there was a reason for whatever this guy did. The truth will come out and I believe it will not favor these nay saying jackholes.

  3. He has to get well and then he will be questioned. There will be an investigation and, if warranted, some kind of military hearing or trial, right?

    Why are people so quick to play judge, jury and executioner in this matter then? Do we not afford people – ALL people – a defense? Seems there are a lot of people who think that “freedom” only applies to perfect people and that if you’re not perfect, you don’t get the benefit of a trial or anything – you just get smeared and so does your family.

    All these people that say they’re all about freedom and justice and the rule of law.

    Give me a break.

    We don’t even know all the facts of this case, yet this guy – and his family – are getting tarred and feathered.

    It’s disgusting.

  4. And the world sits in wonder why any young man would want to serve.
    When politics and special interests and knee jerk patriotism governs the military then you have wars decided by cowards fought by fools.

  5. The GOP/Teabaggers are the most evil people on this earth. The Taliban has nothing on these people. What the world is now observing, is the just how vicious, and hateful Americans can be. And we attempt to tell other countries how to live. Give me a break! We have the greatest country in this world compared to the rest of the world, unfortunately we are being destroyed within. As Proud Americans we must do everything and everything in our power to vote these people out. Otherwise it’s just a matter of time before complete destruction. Our mission is to VOTE!!!!!

  6. This is being orchestrated: look at how all the dogs reversed course at a whistle! Look at how, earlier, the NRA apologized to the open-carry bullies at a whistle! Look how, after the Santa Barbara massacre, all the misogynists piled on at a whistle! I think we need to find and expose the central whistler, that entity that means to break our society and remake it in its own image.

  7. @VIC, you asked the question why would anyone want to serve. I can answer that. You want to serve out the basic belief in your country and what it stands for, out of allegiance to the duty to preserve freedom. You serve out of the belief that if no one else will step forward and defend this great nation then it is your duty to do so. You serve your country in appreciation for what your country has done for you.

    It is a thankless job, and often despised by many. As you said we are fools. Yet without us fools you wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms you have.

    Am I a liberal? Hell yes, all my life. But I recognize that I have to defend that right to be a liberal.

  8. From what I have read about the sgt, I think he has been an innocent who did not mean to be embroiled in any of this.
    I read that prior to his leaving the base he asked his superior if he would be able to take a certain item with him if he went off the base, he was told no, so took a compass, a notebook and something else I cannot remember, something innocent. I feel in my bones he had a desire to meet some of the local people & families (I know it is probably silly) but that he got caught, which I know he should have known better but it does not make him a callous deserter.
    I think he was someone who wanted to see the best in the local people.

  9. If Bergdahl’s father looks like a muslim terrorist then so do the boobs that sarah palin WISHES she had – tripleD’s (duck dynasty dix). Some people like beards and some people are just dix.

  10. And within a few weeks repugs will be talking about how much they support the troops while the Dems do not.

  11. It’s very sickening how the republican party treats the veterans and those in active uniform. They always mention about saluting their soldiers, but always cut their benefits or make them stay longer in the middle east. I was reading about the way Chambliss from Georgia won the campaign against former Sen. Cleland. The commercial is really disgusting and infuriating.

  12. The Right wing is sorely lacking in empathy for anyone or anything. This is not surprising. They are full of hate with rotted souls.

    No American should EVER be left behind. The Right wing favors leaving children, elderly, frail, and minorities behind.

    They are in no way a measure of what real Americans are like.

  13. There is a certain pathetic tone of rationalization in your emotional regurgitation of society reflects. Yet I say “I think” not because I think “There is a certain pathetic tone of rationalization in your emotional regurgitation of society reflects” as that is a fact. But in that is a form and convention of speech that many today ignore in stating their opinions as if they were facts, and stating facts as if they were opinions. So as to avoid being attacked for the courage to state facts in what resembles opinion you conform your speech to state facts as opinions so they can be defended for it being also opinion but the fact is many people today do not respect others opinions under any circumstances in what makes many blush in the embarrassment due to that lack of respect. Where the weak forms of public speech are lacking, many are too bold, and other timid, while others still are cowardly in that they choose the easy routes. The easy forms of speech in what caters to the mob.

  14. No. Now is not the time to bail out. Now is the time to stand up and support our country and get rid of the idiots.
    Put some decent people in place.

  15. These traitorous scum should be reminded at every turn, that if conservatism had taken it’s job seriously before 9/11, there would have been no captives and no war. All that has happened since is their fault.

  16. djchefron, spot on.

    I’ll bet the ones chastising this soldier the loudest have never served 1 day in the military for our country.

  17. Starting with the theft of the 2000 election, what used to be the Republican party has become a cadre of what I can only describe as antihumanists, Hell-bent on breaking everything that was ever egalitarian or kindly in America and remaking society in their own Randian image.

  18. We all need to be reminded that G. W. Bush deserted the military, the man who became president of the USA!

  19. The nasty Republican party has gone waaaaaaay over the top with this one. What hypocrites! What bastards! What low lives!

    Like the old TV show, “Maud” (well some may remember) who used to always say in every segment of her shows, “God will get you for that.”

    Am sure they will. Am sure they will.

  20. Oh, they are good. They are good at waving their flags. At calling themselves “pariots.” Calling themselves the real “christians.” They have tainted so many words in our vocabulary, that I can’t stand to use them anymore.

  21. I heard on tonight’s news, 6/4, the family and friends of the prisoner, Sgt, Bergdahl, had to cancel their homecoming celebration due to security reasons.

    The right has caused this.


  22. Reading the comments about Sgt. Bergdahl on various news/political sites almost makes me physically ill. The degree of vitriol is nothing less than shocking. Somehow I have a feeling that all these people that seem to be totally without compassion and without a shred of forgiveness are the same people that maintain that we are a Christian nation.

  23. Republicans this Republicans that… did you people seriously think everyone was going to be happy about the release of 5 high value detainees for a hostage that could turn out to be a deserter or something even much worse? If you thought everyone was going to be happy then you’re naive.

    Secondly even left leaning outlets, like morning Joe, NYT and others had their field day with the Bowe story, as the article points out. In fact the most scathing remarks about the Bowe story attacks came from a left wing outlet, the Daily News. In it’s article titled “Surrender without honor” the daily news had this to say,
    “Obama swap with Taliban endangers the country… In other words, he (Obama) wants out so badly that he accepted the Taliban’s terms, regardless of the threat to American security. He is surrendering without honor.”

    This is not a right wing outlet, it’s Daily News, known for its left-leaning bias.

  24. I find this hilarious. The 5 had been prisoners since 2002. High value? I hardly think so. They are more then likely going to be looked at as information givers when they get home after a year in Qater.

    This “hostage” was an American. Something you are not familiar with. If he is guilty of something he will be punished. But he is still American and deserved to be brought home. There is something about people like you that smells very badly.

    The media has no idea if this guy is guilty or not. Morning Joe is NOT left leaning. You can go by the media all you want, but you are just farting in the wind. Lets not forget your daily news also endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012.

    Why dont you look up classes that you can take to make you a better American? Then get rid of your hysteria

  25. Morning Joe a show on MSNBC isn’t left leaning? Nice try, but won’t work with me.

    The 5 detainees are in fact high value — most of them had senior positions in terrorist Taliban organization, and the UN has been after them for serious crimes. In fact Politifact concluded that these detainees are the hardest of the hard-core, and they are the highest high-risk people.

    CNN also went after Obama over this swab, accusing him of breaking the law, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN, Obama “clearly broke the law” by not informing Congress, and so did Sen. Dianne Feinstein. People on both sides are speaking out, not only Republicans. Even Bowe’s fellow soldiers condemned Bowe, unless you want to accuse them of being nasty Republicans.

  26. Funny how the right were calling for Obama to
    save this hero, that it was unthinkable not to go to any means possible to save him. They are now franticly scrubbing away all traces of their praise for him, now they want him hanged.
    There are other facts in this story that need to be considered before they try him in a kangaroo court.I think they will be sorry for all of their sleaze and vitriol when the facts come out.
    By the way, isn’t the very existence of Guantanimo illegal?

  27. LOL anyone who thinks Morning joe is left leaning has real problems or has never watched him.

    These 5 are no different then the 520 Bush released from Gitmo. But of course for you that’s different. The taliban these 5 worked with are not in power. Only 2 were soldiers. They will be meaningless.

    Lets face it, you hate Americans
    “There’s precedent for Taliban officials being released from Guantanamo and then going back to the battlefield. In 2007, the George W. Bush administration released Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir. Despite being considered less of a risk than any of the five released in exchange for Bergdahl, he rejoined Taliban forces and pushed a campaign of improvised explosive devices.”

  28. Shivas says above, the released terrorists will be harmless because the Taliban they worked with are no longer in power; a claim so obviously false since these man had direct ties to Taliban’s top leader, Mullah Omar, who is very much still in power. Shiva’s claim is also contradicted by Politifact’s ruling that these 5 detainees are the hardest of the hard-core,

    and by Obama as well who said, “Is there the possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us?” Answering himself, he said, “Absolutely. There’s a certain recidivism rate that takes place.”

    That said Morning Joe is left leaning, deal with it.

  29. Yeah the recidivism rate occurred when bush released over 500. There are no guarantees in life but I bet you were one of the ones when they told you to put duct tape over your house home depot was glad to see you

  30. That makes no sense. The ones that are the loudest are the ones that served with him! Bowe is a selfish traitor. He abandoned his country when he left those gates in free will.

  31. The republicans sent this young man to war, if he gets mentally broken during this republican war, they still own him. He deserves the respect and treatment he needs to heal, not be used by the GOP in their hateful, hate filled, hate mongering hate of the twice elected Democrat President. What is more disgusting, elected republicans or those that elect them.

  32. Coach what to say by rethugilcan goons and if you read Hastings Rolling Stone article that whole platoon was a bunch of fuck ups. So they are pissed at him because he didn’t want to hang with them. According to Army records no one was killed looking for him but your idiotic simple minded ass don’t read and find out for yourself but like a crack addict you turn on your right wing propaganda media to get your fix of the stupid and hate. I despise your kind.

  33. Morning joe is left leaning, too rich! he was a conservative congressman!

    My quote came from your link. Also you have no idea if Mullah Omar is still in power. When OBL was killed he was no longer in power.

    You are living on cliches and wishes.


    From the article: Asked whether the Taliban would be inspired by the exchange to kidnap others, a senior Taliban commander laughed. “Definitely,” he says. “It’s better to kidnap one person like Bergdahl than kidnapping hundreds of useless people. It has encouraged our people. Now everybody will work hard to capture such an important bird.

    Your desperation is getting worse with every post. Mullah Omar, is STILL the spiritual leader of the Taliban.
    In fact After the 5 detainees were released, Mullah Omar delivered a rare statement Sunday calling the trade a “great victory..we shall thank almighty for this great victory,” said the statement. “The sacrifice of our Mujahedin have resulted in the release of our senior leaders from the hand of the enemy.

  35. Drudge Report: “SHOCK POLL: Americans say Obama less competent than Bush…”

    From the article: With President Obama’s approval rating still deep underwater, a new survey from Fox News finds that Americans generally think George W. Bush ran a more “competent” administration. In the survey, a 48 percent plurality said Bush’s White House was more competent, while 42 percent picked Obama’s.

    This poll isn’t shocking, Obama released senior Taliban leaders in a move that has inspired the Taliban to kidnap more soldiers

  36. LOL Drudge report!

    Fox News!

    Go away. ANd Bush released 520 taliban and alqeada. While you kiss his ass for it

  37. I’m glad my fellow Americans have woken up from Obama’s spell. Obama is incompetent, this New poll is refreshing. Obama has put the lives of our soldiers in harms way, as Time Magazine reports, a senior Taliban leader has threatened that they will work extra hard to kidnap our soldiers.

  38. Hey dumbass out troops been in harms way since we invaded. The only way they wont be in harms way is when we come home. But being the cowardly chickenhawk that you and the rest of you war mongering sociopaths you would want to be there forever. BTW have you ever served your country

  39. Liberal/progressive lack of empathy for the 6+ soldiers who died to try find Bergdahl after he deserted, is disgusting.

    Liberal/progressive lack of empathy for the families of those killed in Benghazi is disgusting.

  40. I do believe this so-called Christian nation has descended into hell. What happened to innocent until proven guilty. The words of a few, with less than stellular reputations themselves do not make a guilty person make. Judgement can be with held until the facts are in. It for surely won’t hurt any one to refrain from spreading unproven allegations. Who gave you the right to determine he is guilty without proof. Hearsay is NOT proof. If this is the way our soldiers are repaid for being in a war that was not of their making, who do you think will volunteer/enlist in the next needless war? All of you brave people that are so quick to condemn can go. I do hope you will do a good job.

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