Ladies and gents, let me present to you: The meaniepooface of the week
Here’s the article in full. Please read everything Modly said word for word and make up your own mind.
There were two major developments in the saga of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which saw its captain relieved of command after an email leaked in which he argued that he needed more assistance in dealing with a coronavirus outbreak among his crew. The first is that the former captain, Brett Crozier, has now had a positive test result for coronavirus. According to The New York Times’ sources, Crozier had already been experiencing symptoms when he was removed from command. In that, he joins at least 155 members of his crew, based on numbers provided by the Department of Defense on Sunday.
The second is that the man who relieved him, Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly, visited the Theodore Roosevelt to give a talk that was sent over the ship’s intercom system to the entire crew. In it, Modly blasted Captain Crozier, telling the crew he “put you at great risk.” Modly said that the former captain’s actions caused problems for the Navy staff that was caring for sick crew members, as well as for the government of Guam, where the ship is currently docked. “Think about that when you cheer the man off the ship who exposed you to that,” Modly told the crew.
“I understand that you love the guy,” Modly said, speaking of the captain’s warm send-off. “It’s good that you love him, but you’re not required to love him.” Instead, he reminded the crew that their duty was to the Navy and the US public.
As for Crozier, Modly suggested that he should have known that the email he wrote would have ended up being made public. Since Crozier wrote it anyway, either “he didn’t think that information was gonna get out into the public in this information age we live in … [so] he was too naive or too stupid to be the commanding officer of a ship like this,” or “he did it on purpose.” Modly also took some shots at the people who reported on it, saying, “the media has an agenda, and the agenda they have depends on which side of the political aisle they sit.” He also warned the crew that the media was out to get them: “They use [information like this] to divide us. They use it to embarrass the Navy.”
But US citizens weren’t the only targets of Modly’s ire. He reserved a fair bit for China as well: “One of the things about his email that bothered me the most was saying we’re not at war. We’re not technically at war. But let me tell you something—the only reason we’re dealing with this right now is because of a big, authoritarian regime called China [that] was not forthcoming about what was happening with this virus. And they put the world at risk to protect themselves and to protect their reputation.”
A reporter for Foreign Policy has since heard from Navy officials indicating that the remarks were intended to be private. But, to borrow Modly’s own phrasing, he would have to be naive or stupid to assume the speech would remain private. Our military expert Sean Gallagher indicated that the ship’s intercom would also reach workers on the dock, which would likely include civilians. But civilians don’t seem to have been necessary. CNN, which reported that senior Navy leaders opposed Crozier’s firing, also indicated that it received copies from “multiple Navy officials.”
So, it’s worth considering what Modly might hope to accomplish by demonizing the media and potentially antagonizing China for seemingly no reason. It’s notable that both of these themes have made regular appearances in recent media campaigns of supporters of President Trump, the man who placed Modly in his acting position. It could be an effort to ensure that Trump retains him in this position.