Why is Paula Broadwell’s faith such a mystery?

Former GetReligionista Sarah Pulliam Bailey noticed something weird about today’s stories about Paula Broadwell. They all refer to her faith but they don’t tell us what her faith is.

Above you see the example from CBS News, headlined:

Seeking “redemption” after Petraeus scandal, Paula Broadwell looks to faith


Paula Broadwell looks to faith to rebuild after Petraeus affair

And here’s CNN:

Petraeus’ mistress Broadwell: I’m looking forward with faith

All of the stories are based on an interview she gave to the local CBS affiliate in Charlotte. And it’s Broadwell who is oblique about the “faith-based” environment she’s referring to. She’s interviewed while attending a YWCA prayer breakfast, which could give a clue, but the YWCA is no longer necessarily Christian (as it’s original name, the Young Women’s Christian Association, would lead you to believe).

She mentions God and family and trying to find meaningful work, none of which narrows it down terribly much.

To be completely honest, I don’t even see the need for a story on Broadwell’s faith right now. But if you are going to do it, do it! The basic questions of journalism should be answered in a story on a given topic. Readers should not have to guess or surmise what the faith in question is … in a story about someone’s faith.

More than that, I’d like a bit more digging down on the particulars of a person’s faith. Once you find out which general religion we’re talking about, wouldn’t it be nice to learn a bit more about what, specifically, their religion is helping them with or what has been most challenging?

In light of the journalistic response to Chris Broussard’s comments on sin the other day, I’m wondering if the media have just completely dropped the ball on knowing how to talk about such religious concepts as sin and redemption. It’s clear they’re not handling the topics very maturely or very well. This is just the latest example.

The decline and fall of King David Petraeus

Even by Friday night news dumps, this one was a doozie. David Petraeus resigned on Friday afternoon for reasons related to adultery. Which led Joyce Carol Oates to tweet:

Don’t understand why “adultery” is quasi-illlegal in a nation in which church & state are separate….

…..the ugly word “bastard” has been phased out of usage & next should come “adultery” with its Biblical rectitude & cruelty.

How we treat our spouses and how honest we are about our liaisons are interesting ethical discussions. I was intrigued by this New York Times piece about the self-destruction. It mentioned an interesting Biblical reference:

“P4,” as he was called for the four stars he earned, was viewed with respect — but often grudging respect. His celebrity brought positive attention to an all-volunteer force that at times struggled to meet recruitment numbers over a decade of grinding ground conflict. But that same publicity, and the fiercely ambitious man who pursued it, drew private criticism from some officers, who nicknamed him King David.

Biblical Echoes

As word of his resignation resounded across the Pentagon on Friday, more than one officer cited the biblical adultery of King David and Bathsheba.

I love the Biblical references if for no other reason than that when we report stories, people frequently use Biblical references that never make it into print. It’s hard to know how to put them in a story or what, in general, to do with them. But while I was happy to see the reference, I actually wish it would have been spelled out more.

We’ll see plenty more discussions about the ethical concerns related to Petraeus’ lack of rectitude (sorry, Ms. Oates). But I wish that the media were as interested in other aspects of CIA operations as the sex scandals (interesting though they may be).

I’ll take this opportunity to highlight this piece in The Economist about how Petraeus requested more drone capabilities in recent weeks. The article doesn’t shy away from the ethical issues, noting:

Because drones can loiter over potential targets for hours before firing their missiles, they are more discriminating than either fast jets or helicopter-borne special forces. Nor are their pilots put in harm’s way. Yet it is disturbingly unclear how many people the attacks have killed (some estimates suggest more than 3,000). The vast majority appear to have been militants, but some have been unlucky civilians. The distinction may also be blurring. New looser rules allow so-called “signature” attacks on unnamed fighters; that can easily mean any male of fighting age in an insurgent-held area…

But Kurt Volker, a former American official close to Senator John McCain, sees a bigger problem: drones have made killing too easy. In a recent article he asked: “What do we want to be as a nation? A country with a permanent kill list? A country where people go to the office, launch a few kill shots and get home in time for dinner? A country that instructs workers in high-tech operations centres to kill human beings on the far side of the planet because some government agency determined that those individuals are terrorists?” The debate over drones is only just starting.

It’s a start. Neither of the two presidential candidates seemed particularly interested in discussing ethical concerns of drone warfare during the campaign. The media frequently seem more interested in other topics as well. As the CIA moves toward increased drone killings, I wish the media would go ahead and ask some tough questions about their use.