WASHINGTON — During last week’s Capitol Hill press gaggle, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. William “Mac” Thornberry, R-Texas, turned a chance to offer constructive criticism to national security reporters into a moment of praise for their work and empathy for the challenges they face.
“I think, in general, you know, journalists do a very good job – and certainly better than at any time in our history – of reporting events that happen around the world,” he said.
When asked how well the media has been covering the national security beat, Thornberry opted to stand aside.
“I think I am not very well-positioned to critique somebody else’s job,” he told the small group of reporters and staffers who sat around a table and along the walls of a Rayburn House Office Building conference room.
“I have a big enough problem just trying to critique myself at my own job.”
He empathized with the seeming sensory overload that he said is encountered by reporters and politicians, alike.
“I think all of us — including me — have a harder time seeing the bigger trends because there’s a constant barrage of new, individual events and developments,” he said. “One of the challenges of the intelligence community, one of the challenges for us, you know, as policymakers, is to just kind of … take into account these individual events that we get barraged with every day and see the broader trends that you can do something about. And that’s hard.”
He said that the onus of sifting through this commotion to uncover important patterns doesn’t just fall on journalists.
“It’s up to all of us,” he said. “It’s part of the information age.”