Preston: ESPN's Cowherd wrong to trash talk our military personnel

Bryan Preston (Courtesy)

Leading conservative editor and journalist demands apology from liberal sports-radio host who falsely misrepresents enrollment demographics in the U.S. military, as being low-income and uneducated.


“Today’s U.S. military is the most educated fighting force in human history,” said Bryan Preston, Editor-At-Large at “Cowherd just doesn’t have his facts straight.”

Colin Cowherd, who is the host of The Herd with Colin Cowherd on ESPN radio, disparaged the U.S. military on his program last week when he said people who join the military, join because they have no other economic choices.

“We know most people that go into the military in this country – they need the military often to pay bills,” said Cowherd. “That is almost a federal safety-net financially.”

These remarks propagate a false stereotype that is neither productive nor true, said Preston, a military veteran who formally worked for NASA. Cowherd’s attacks on Americans who join the military are flat-out wrong, he said. “The fact is today’s military is highly educated, highly professional, and the majority clearly knowing that the war on terror was underway, joined out of a sense of duty.”

Preston said military folks are insulted by these unfair stereotypes. It reminds them of when then-U.S. Senator John Forbes Kerry made similar remarks in Nov. of 2006. Kerry, who is the current U.S. Secretary of State, said, “If you don’t get an education and try to get ahead, you are going to end up stuck in Iraq.”


Kerry’s comments, in which he wound-up apologizing for, unfortunately had its negative effects then and now, said Preston. “I was in Baghdad, Iraq in January 2007 and military personnel and officers were incensed by Kerry’s statements,” he said. “They were shocked that a soldier of Kerry’s stature did not understand what it is to be in the military.”

The Heritage Foundation study that looked at military enlistees, their socio-economic origins, education levels, and demographics shows a U.S. military that is in stark contrast with the inaccurate, liberal stereo-type, said Preston.

The study found that the economic demographics are skewed toward the upper-class, he said. “It is actually the case that the middle-class and the upper-class are over represented in the U.S. military compared to that of the lower-class.”

Only 11 percent of enlisted recruits in 2007 came from the poorest one-fifth of neighborhoods, while 25 percent came from the wealthiest quintile, said the study. These trends are even more pronounced in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps program, in which 40 percent of enrollees come from the wealthiest neighborhoods.

George Washington University looked at educational demographics in 2013, said Preston, who is the former communications director of the Texas Republican Party. Heritage found that the U.S. general population lags far behind the U.S. population in terms of having a high school diploma, and in terms of having college degrees, he said. “Ninety-five percent of officer accessions have at least a bachelor’s degree.”


Those who have bachelor’s degrees or advanced degrees in the military tend to make a lot more money than their civilian counterparts, he said. “This idea that the U.S. military is not compensated well and uneducated and join because they do not have any other choices is completely false.”

Preston said there is not one-set of reasons determining why people join the military. “They are joining for a variety of reasons; some out of a sense of duty to defend their country, and some people join because family members before them created a tradition.”

But the bottom-line is, people are not joining to escape poverty as Cowherd has portrayed, said the former producer of the Laura Ingraham Show.

“When I joined the military in 1993, I had my bachelor degree and I served with a whole lot of people in the enlisted corps who already had college degrees,” he said. “Some of them would become career military; some of them went into the officer corps; and some of them, like me, got out and became civilians again.”

Cowherd is operating on a liberal stereotype that goes back to the Vietnam War era, said Preston.  Times are different now, he said. Drafting citizens for enrollment, while excusing the upper-class from participating, over 45-years ago compared to an all-volunteer force now, clearly has produced a different demographic of service members.


“We are 14 years in the war on terrorism,” he said. “Which means the vast majority of people who have volunteered for the military are not there to pay the bills, they are there to fight the war on terrorism, to defend America, defend democracy and defend our way of life.”

Preston has demanded that Cowherd get his facts straight and issue an apology to all U.S. service members – immediately. “People like Cowherd need to step-out of their liberal-bubble, and actually mingle with some military folks,” he said. “They would find their perception changed for the better.”

Join the conversation as a VIP Member