January 6, 2004
Pentagon To Embed Soldiers With M-16's In Newsrooms Across Country

Hope Initiative "Softens" Tone Of War Coverage

Defense Department spokesman Larry DiRita first complained about Post military reporter Tom Ricks in a letter to editors, then met with the newsroom bosses to press his points, reports Harry Jaffe. . . .Ricks has not exactly been a cheerleader for the war in . The Pentagon was not pleased with his March 27 piece quoting military brass that they had trained for the wrong war against a different enemy that would take longer to defeat.
The Pentagon announced a bold new program today for "encouraging the exchangement (sic) of views between journaliists and the military." Soldiers armed with M-16's, hand-grenades, rocket launchers, and MRE's will be placed in "virtually every newsroom in the nation."

"This way journalists will be able to turn to the heavily armed marine with the brush cut and the Semper Fi tattoo who's sharpening his bayonet when they need a fresh read to help them put the story in perspective," said General Harvey Frond of the Pentagon.

The Pentagon has also started to embed soldiers with journalists in the field, although the program has already met with one mishap. Yesterday, one of the first soldiers to take part in the program misunderstood his orders and actually embedded a reporter in a field. Sgt. Ruddy Baker promised he would not do it again.

This reporter finds the practice questionable and certain to impact negatively on the impartial reporting of the American military a boon to journalism in a free society.

Posted by Tom Burka at 12:08 PM in