Within the span of a few days this week, two award-winning journalists penned fawning articles about an Air Force colonel whose promotion to brigadier general is in jeopardy.


Casual readers, who know nothing about Col. Ben Jonsson other than what The Washington Post and Military.com reported, likely would conclude that he deserves the promotion.

Of course, both publications told only part of the story—a classic case of media bias by omission.

Daily Signal readers may recall a series of stories last year about Jonsson’s radical views on race and scathing internal assessments of his leadership at MacDill Air Force Base and the U.S. Air Force Academy.

At the time, he was one of hundreds of military officers whose promotions were blocked by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., in a standoff with the Biden administration over the Pentagon’s abortion policy. The Senate eventually approved those promotions in December, except for Jonsson, whose promotion now is being held by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo.

Nearly three months passed without any mention of Jonsson in news stories—until this week. That’s when Rebecca Kheel at Military.com and Joe Davidson at The Washington Post took aim at Schmitt for blocking Jonsson’s promotion.

A Promising Air Force Officer Took a Stand Against Racism. Now, His Career Is in Political Jeopardy,” read Military.com’s headline Tuesday afternoon.

A colonel promoted diversity. So a GOP senator is blocking his promotion,” The Washington Post added Thursday morning.

Their stories follow a similar pattern:

  • The Air Force Times publishes Jonsson’s op-ed, headlined “Dear white colonel … we must address our blind spots around race,” after George Floyd’s death in police custody in 2020.
  • Jonsson is courageous for fighting “institutional racism.”
  • Former Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson comes to Jonsson’s defense, offering praise and admiration for him.
  • The Post’s article calls Jonsson a “devout Christian devoted to his biracial family,” while Military.com’s story describes him as “a man of deep Christian faith.”
  • He’s “absolutely qualified” and being unfairly blocked by a Republican senator.

Both stories appeared within days of NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson’s March 1 letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., calling on Schmitt to release his hold on Jonsson’s promotion.

“Senator Schmitt’s decision to hold Colonel Jonsson’s nomination hostage is part of a political effort to advance an anti-Black, anti-equity agenda,” Johnson asserted. “We commend Col. Johnson for his distinguished service to the American people, and extend our deepest gratitude for his bravery. He expressed support for DEI following discussions with members of his command with clear understanding of how to improve force readiness.”

There’s no doubt that Jonsson supports diversity, equity, and inclusion—known as DEI—within the ranks of the U.S. military. He’s also endorsed critical race theory promoter Robin DiAngelo’s book “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.”

The views Jonsson expressed in his “Dear white colonel” commentary are also consistent with DEI principles espoused by Defense Department leadership and embraced by all branches of the U.S. military.

At the Air Force Academy where Jonsson served as vice superintendent, a “Diversity & Inclusion” slide presentation advised cadets to “use gender-neutral language and avoid terms such as mom and dad.” It also urged cadets to avoid the term “colorblind” and instead be “color conscious.”

Under Jonsson’s leadership, the academy faced criticism for promoting DEI and CRT.

Writing under a pseudonym for the Washington Examiner, one cadet documented his experience with “divisive teachings” at the Air Force Academy. “The leftist ideologies, including critical race theory and diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings, being forced upon us by academy leadership have divided the cadet wing from within, in a profession where unity is essential,” he wrote.

Before serving at the Air Force Academy, Jonsson was the subject of blistering criticism from subordinates at MacDill Air Force Base, according to a survey obtained by The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project and shared with The Daily Signal in November. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s news and commentary outlet.)

Responses to this Defense Organizational Climate Survey of Jonsson’s leadership paint a picture of his tenure and concerns about his views on DEI and CRT. The survey, completed in January 2022, was conducted anonymously.

“I trust [squadron and group] commanders, but not Col. Jonsson. He has bias in [equal opportunity] and [judge advocate] matters especially if someone is white,” one respondent stated. “He wants anyone white to feel ashamed.” 

Survey respondents also said skin color was a factor in opportunities for promotion under Jonsson’s command. 

“Wing hiring practices are not based on [the] most qualified person, but focus solely on perception of diversity,” one comment states.

Another adds: “The core of promotion, advancement and opportunities must be performance based … period [but] that is not what we do at MacDill.” 

Following publication of our November story, The Daily Signal obtained more information about Jonsson’s time at MacDill, including an official DEI policy memo and email from a field-grade officer promoting a diversity agenda to his wing.

“I worked under Col. Jonsson when he was the wing commander at MacDill Air Force Base and witnessed many troubling things,” said a veteran Air Force officer, who asked for anonymity to speak openly without facing retribution. “When [President Joe] Biden was elected, he said elatedly in a meeting with all squadron commanders, ‘Now we can start doing diversity training again.’”

Perhaps the most glaring omission by the Post and Military.com is the effect of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” initiatives on military readiness and recruiting.

Last year, The Heritage Foundation commissioned the National Independent Panel on Military Service and Readiness, warning that full-scale embrace of DEI is compromising military readiness and warfighting capabilities.

“[T]he precepts of DEI distract from developing a well-trained, merit-based military, and some manifestations of DEI, such as the teaching of postmodernist theories, run counter to the foundational principles that define the United States,” the panel concluded.

It’s also contributing to a recruiting crisis in the military. Last fiscal year, the Army, Navy, and Air Force missed their recruiting numbers by “historically large margins.”

These are important elements of the public debate. It’s no secret that corporate media outlets leave out critical facts.

That’s why The Daily Signal exists—to tell the whole story when others fail to do so.

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