Did Chicago Sun-Times Endanger a U.S. Soldier’s Life Just for a ‘Scoop’?


By: Warner Todd Huston

Long-time gossip columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, Michael Sneed, was one of the first to announce that the son of Chicago’s Mayor Daley volunteered as a private in the U.S. Army in 2004 after successfully attaining his MBA from the University of Chicago. That was interesting reporting, that such a big city mayor’s son would join the Army like a regular guy, of course, but has Sneed now taken her “exclusives” a step too far? On Dec. 11th, Sneed reported that Patrick Daley is being deployed overseas. Has this somewhat specific news endangered his life and/or that of his fellow soldiers now that the enemy has been told that the son of a famous politician is on his way to a specific theater of action as well as being told a targeted window of departure?

Sneed reported the following:

A soldier’s story: Sneed hears Mayor Daley’s soldier son, Patrick, 32, will ship out for duty in Afghanistan next week.

“Patrick has been preparing for this for a long time, but it is still stunning news to his family at Christmastime,” said a source.

Now, recall that the British government wouldn’t allow their royal scion, son of Prince Charles, to go to a theater of heavy action nor did they allow reporting of his whereabouts to be released. This only makes sense for a variety of reasons.

For one thing, each solder in a company at war needs to know that they are all equally important to their fellows. But, if one single solder (like a British Royal son, or the son of a famous politician in the States) is held as more “important” doesn’t that harm both the cohesion of the company and its safety?

Wouldn’t the extra fear for this famous son’s security cause extra pressure on the company to which he belongs, especially if the enemy is alerted to his location via the media?

And what of the self-respect of the famous son? Could that not be damaged, too? Patrick Daley was quoted by Sneed to have been quite self-effacing and desirous of starting at the bottom like everyone else when he first began his military career.

Here are a few of Daley’s past quotes as reported by Sneed:

“I left West Point during my freshman year when I was 18 years old and always remembered their motto, “Duty, Honor and Country.” But I was so young and not really old enough to understand what it really meant. But I do now.”

At the time, Patrick Daley was 29 years old.

“Although my family has a history of serving in the military reserve, I will be the first person in my family to go active,” said Daley, who decided to enlist rather than enter service through officers training. “It’s a close bet I may make a career out of the military, and it’s better to start at the bottom,” Daley said then. “It will be an honor to serve my country.”

Sneed’s reporting could conceivably cause the Army to jump to special treatment for Patrick Daley to assure his safety, treatment that is quite specifically contrary to his wishes.

So, the question here is, did columnist Sneed possibly put Patrick Daley in more danger than being in a war zone would normally present to a young combat soldier? Could her report have possibly alerted the enemy that a son of a famous American is on his way to their area?

One wonders if had the son of Chicago’s Mayor been about to hit the beaches of Normandy, if Michael Sneed would have alerted the Nazis that the Normandy invasion was about to happen just to get her “exclusive scoop”?

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