I enjoy letters to the editor (or content chief) in The Gazette. Stop by nearly every day to read them, either in print or on Gazette.com.
Last week, a letter to the editor stated that The Gazette “portrayed Asher Clark as a martyr.” Let me first say I always appreciate those who take time to question what we do. The best readers are the most concerned – and often the most critical – readers. These readers care about what we’re doing. They write letters. So thanks for the letter.
But let me also say I don’t agree with the letter. A martyr is one who suffers unjustly for a cause. That’s the definition. Clark, the former Air Force football star, is not suffering for a cause. He was removed from the academy for violating rules. He smoked Spice, a synthetic form of marijauna. I don’t see him as a martyr. I have not talked with anyone who considers Asher Clark a martyr.
I think I know what the letter writer meant. When she said Clark was portrayed as martyr, I believe she meant he was being portrayed with too much sympathy.
Let me explain the background of The Gazette’s coverage:
Frank Schwab and I talked last week with Mark Clark, Asher’s father. Mark spoke at great length to both Frank and me. He was a father defending his son. He was trying to paint a sympathetic portrait of his son, who is, by all accounts, an exemplary teammate and a solid student.
Frank sought out officials at Air Force Academy to comment for his article. Those officials have not responded with a meaningful comment. Trust me; we want to hear from Air Force officials. We want to hear their side of the story. Academy spokesperson David Cannon reminded me late Tuesday afternoon that Air Force officials are unable, by law, to offer details about Clark’s removal.
“Because the action that we took with Asher was administrative in nature vs. judicial, we are not allowed by the Privacy Act to say what the specific infraction was. That’s law,” Cannon wrote in an e-mail.
Thanks, Mr. Cannon.
The academy’s virtual silence left us talking with one side of this story. And, yes, I know every story has two sides.
The result of Frank’s story and my column was a look at Asher and his troubles through the eyes of his father. Frank and I were reporting on Mark Clark’s version of his son’s removal. That was the strength and the limitation of the story and the column.
The letter ended with these words:
“The academy should not be blamed for Clark’s poor decision making.”
I agree with that statement. Nobody at The Gazette tried to place blame on the academy for Clark’s decision.
Your thoughts? Did The Gazette portray Asher Clark as a “martyr”? Would love to hear your views on the letter and the story and column on Clark.
Here’s Frank’s story on Mark and Asher Clark:
And here’s my column on the Clarks: