Thursday, March 22, 2007

It's All in the Timing, Redux

A couple of days ago, we noted a recent AFP dispatch from Baghdad, depicting U.S. soldiers who are apparently fed up with the war and want us to get out, now. We pointed out a couple of problems with that report--first of all, it doesn't jibe with other quotes from American military personnel; Secondly, reporter Bryan Pearson seemed to base most of his story on the comments of a single, unnamed (and apparently, low-ranking) soldier.

Terri at A Soldier's Mind took the inquiry a step further, sending a copy of the article to one of the officers quoted in Pearson's story. Here's a portion of his e-mail reply to her:

Thanks to you and all those who truly support us here and what we do. This was an example of a journalist with a hidden agenda. I took him out with me before I let him get in a vehicle with my soldiers. He never asked me any leading or difficult questions, but waited till he had access to a young soldier and asked him questions like what would the US Army do if Iraq were to implode; totally out of a soldiers purvue. He also embellished and exaggerated statements to add flavor to his point of view.

My intention is to alert others to his deceptive practices so that this doesn’t happen to another unit or their soldiers. The tone of the article is not what my soldiers are feeling and they were very upset that they were portrayed this way. Each is very proud of what they do here…… If any of your readers read this and think that soldiers here are in such disparaging conditions please caveat with the disclaimer that these soldiers were deceived, grossly misqouted, and had fabricated quotes.

Out of all the embedded reporters we have had up to this date, Bryan Pearson is the first negative experience we have had

Terri doesn't specify which officer responded to her e-mail, but I'm guessing it was Capt Chris Dawson, the platoon commander identified in the original story. Dawson was the only soldier in the story who stated that our military effort is making a difference. Not surprisingly, Pearson buried those remarks near the bottom of his report.

Kudos to Terri for digging deeper on this one, and to that 9th Cav officer (Capt Dawson?) for setting the record straight. As for Mr. Pearson, we'll read his future dispatches with even more skepticism. And, we've got a question for the public affairs officers running the embed program in Iraq (I've been told the 82nd Airborne PAO shop is currently in charge). Why was an agenda-driven reporter like Pearson given an embed slot instead of a reputable milblogger like Mike Fumento? An explanation is certainly in order.

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