In 1980, the top “censored” story of the year was about the distorted press reports of the crisis in El Salvador; in 1981, the sixth most overlooked story told about the illegal training of exiled Nicaraguan terrorists at Camp Libertad, Florida; in 1982, the fifth most “censored” story of the year was titled “The Real Story of Central America.”
Yet, even today, we are still not getting the full story of what is happening in Central America. Admittedly, there are a variety of explanations for this, not the least of which is the intimidation and assassination of journalists. In addition, there is the misinf’ormation disseminated by our own State Department and the confusing and complex political situation in that region. (The range of obstacles to reliable press coverage in the area is well documented by Michael Massing’s Columbia Journalism Review article which suggested how the recall of a New York Times reported seemed to send a signal to the rest of the press to go soft on El Salvador.
However, not all journalists were confused by the political situation, intimidated by the terrorists, manipulated by the Meagan administration, nor transferred by their newspapers.
One such journalist is Peter D. Fox, city editor of the Billings (Montana) Gazette. After a 12-day study mission to Central America, he wrote a series of article with revelations which were cited by one observer as “important to Central America as Harrison Salisburv’s 1966 New York Times revelations were to Vietnam.” In his lead article, Fox reported “What we say and learned during our time in Managua and the countryside was alarming because it did not correspond with what we had been reading in U.S. newspapers, seeing on U.S. television and hearing from our U.S. government.”
Fox cannot be easily accused of being a “bleeding heart liberal journalist taken in by Communist propaganda.” Rather, he is a conservative, former U.S. intelligence officer, who supported President Reagan’s Central American policy until he went there himself’.
Fox was so outraged over what he saw his country doing in Central America that he publicly resigned his commission in the U.S. Army National Guard. He wrote: “Despite the emotional, patriotic, and financial losses which I will incur, I cannot continue to serve as an officer in the Army of the United States while it is being used immorally, if’ not illegally (in Central America).
The personal sacrifice that Peter Fox, an American journalist and soldier, make to tell the true story of Central America, was itself a censored story. Peter Fox, who may be America’s first military conscientious objector over the Central American War, deserves to be more than a minor footnote in history.
THE BILLINGS GAZETTE, 8/31/83, 9/4/83, 9/18/83, 9/25/83, Another side of the fight,” by Peter D. Fox; COLUMBIA JOURNALISM REVIEW, November, 1983, “About-face on El Salvador, by Michael Messing; THE ITHACA TIMES, 12/1/83, “A Conversion Story,” by John E. Milich.