McChrystal's Potty Mouth May Have Cost Him His Job
Rolling Stone piece's impact helped by vulgar language
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2010 4:40 PM CDT
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force and Commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, arrives to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill...   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(Newser) – What does a journalist have to do to effect a major change in US foreign policy? In the case of Michael Hastings' Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the answer may be to use lots and lots of curse words. The piece uses "fuck" 18 times, from the vulgar dismissal of a French diplomat dreided as "fucking gay" to one soldier's bleak assessment that "we’re fucking losing this thing.”

And language matters, writes Barry Sussman for Nieman Watchdog. Without the vulgarity to lay bare the contempt McChrystal and his staff had for their superiors and peers, the move to oust him might not have coalesced so quickly. In fact, the curse words may have worked too well—the media response has focused almost entirely on personal insults, and not on the article's substantive and devastating critique of the US effort in Afghanistan, an argument that extends well past McChrystal's involvement.

 

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