By Chuck Strouse
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Paulison blames the media for creating the controversy. "The media got carried away without letting us do our investigation," he observes. Although Paulison's statement certainly is true, it is not entirely complete. South Florida media outlets such as WSVN-TV (Channel 7) may have blown the story out of proportion, but there were those within his own administration who incited the media's interest and then fueled it for days with bad information. The men were portrayed as radical Muslims when in fact none was a Muslim.
As Paulison left the department for his new job in Washington, the firefighters were cleared of the more serious charges against them. They did not remove an American flag from their fire truck out of disdain for what the flag represents but rather because it was blocking their line of sight. The department, however, was still trying to find a way to punish the men for, among other things, making imprudent comments to the media.
The attack on these men should be stopped immediately, a sentiment Paulison appears to share. "I wasn't there at the very end of all this, so I don't know what the department is trying to do," he says. "I wish I were there in Miami to help diffuse the situation and try to make things right again. I know those firefighters. I've worked with them a long time and they are good firefighters."