Two top Army generals reportedly tried to kill an article running in the New York Times about concussions occurring frequently at West Point.
Back in June, the Times made a Freedom of Information Act request for data on concussions “resulting from mandatory boxing classes at the United States Military Academy.” The paper also apparently asked for similar data from the Air Force and Naval Academies.
During a mid-September meeting at the Pentagon, Lt. General Patricial Horoho reportedly recommended to the superintendent at West Point that “the Army delay responding to the Times’ request.”
That information was revealed in a meeting summary that was created by West Point staff. In the summary, the Army surgeon general suggests that to “undercut a Times report on concussions at the academy,” the Army could “stall fulfilling a request” and instead “try to publish findings of an Army study elsewhere.”
The West Point public affairs staff and the surgeon general’s office were reportedly instructed to promote a study — by West Point sports medicine doctor, Col. Steven Svoboda — to the Wall Street Journal or USA Today. But neither one of those publications ended up running a story about the Svoboda study.
The high-level officials apparently hoping those publications would write a more favorable Army study on concussions.
But in a statement last week, Lt. General Robert Caslen – the superintendent at the United States Military Academy –said the summary document had “inaccurately portrayed my discussion with Lieutenant General Horoho.”
After learning of the document, the Air Force Academy and West Point “quickly released concussion numbers.”
According to the summary, this is not the first time General Horoho tried undermining news media coverage. Last year, she apparently manipulated coverage of the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division at Fort Carson. “We were able to do something similar with the 4th ID when The Colorado Springs Gazette attacked them with treatment of wounded warriors last year,” she’s quoted as saying in the document.
When the Times covered a story, in early September, about a West Point pillow fight — which caused 24 concussions— General Horoho said she was blindsided.
“Next time when cadets are injured and it is sensationalized, please let me know ahead of time,” she is summarized as saying. “I can help shape the reaction from my position as surgeon general. I actually learned about this incident from the news.”
The news of the pillow fight traveled incredibly fast as many cadets were quick to post them to social media.