THE FOLKS AT CNN’S “RELIABLE SOURCES” just emailed me this excerpt from today’s show transcript with UPI reporter Pamela Hess:

KURTZ: Pam Hess, has the sending of 20,000 additional troops gotten a fair hearing in the media or has it gotten caught up in this wrenching, emotional debate about whether the war itself was a mistake?

PAM HESS: I think it’s gotten caught up about it, and the debate about it is actually all wrong. What reporters know and what Martha says is that 20,000 really isn’t that big — isn’t that big a jump. We’re at 132,000 right now. It’s going to put us even less that we had going in going across the line.

What we’re not asking is actually the central question. We’re getting distracted by the shiny political knife fight. What we need to be asking is, what happens if we lose? And no one will answer that question. If we lose, how are we going to mitigate the consequences of this?

It’s so much easier for us to cover this as a political horse race. It’s on the cover of “The New York Times” today, what this means for the ’08 election. But we’re not asking the central national security question, because it seems that if as a reporter you do ask the national security question, all of a sudden you’re carrying Bush’s water. There are national security questions at stake, and we’re ignoring them and the country is getting screwed.

Better that the story should be missed, and the country screwed, than that a reporter might look unacceptably friendly to Bush!

UPDATE: Read this, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Pam Hess video is available here.

MORE: Don Surber has questions for the press. And the CNN transcript is now available online.

And courtesy of reader Jim Brant, here’s someone who’s asking the tough questions that, as Pam Hess notes, other journalists are afraid to.

Gerard van der Leun: “As always in these times, both the Right and the Left are wrong, have been wrong for quite some time, and will continue in their error since the object of their policies is neither victory abroad or security at home, but the mere destruction of the other in political terms. It is a small and ignoble goal, but it seems to be all our pundits and politicians are capable of at this time. The times demand heros and giants but we are only seeing pygmies and cardboard figures. This is likely to continue until some deeper shock wakes us from our sleep.”

Jules Crittenden: “Thank you, Ms. Hess.”

More thoughts from Bruce Kesler.