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Yon and Fumento on Embeds

Mike Yon has a scathing evaluation of the embed process run by CENTCOM in the Weekly Standard:

Censoring Iraq
In a counterinsurgency, the media battlespace is critical. When it comes to mustering public opinion, rallying support, and forcing opponents to shift tactics and timetables to better suit the home team, our terrorist enemies are destroying us. Al Qaeda's media arm is called al Sahab: the cloud. It feels more like a hurricane. While our enemies have "journalists" crawling all over battlefields to chronicle their successes and our failures, we have an "embed" media system that is so ineptly managed that earlier this fall there were only 9 reporters embedded with 150,000 American troops in Iraq. There were about 770 during the initial invasion...

Michael Fumento has been blogging from Iraq and has a great read about real journalists that embed and the others who tell stories from their hotel rooms.

Covering Iraq:  The Modern Way of War Coorespondence
...Most rear-echelon reporters seem to have studied the same handbook, perhaps The Dummies’ Guide to Faux Bravado. It usually begins with the horrific entry into Baghdad International Airport. Time’s Baghdad bureau chief, Aparisim Ghosh, in an August 2006 cover story, devotes five long paragraphs to the alleged horror of landing there.

It’s “the world’s scariest landing,” he insists, as if he were an expert on all the landings of all the planes at all the world’s airports and military airfields. It’s “a steep, corkscrewing plunge,” a “spiraling dive, straightening up just yards from the runway. If you’re looking out the window, it can feel as if the plane is in a free fall from which it can’t possibly pull out.” Writes Ghosh, “During one especially difficult landing in 2004, a retired American cop wouldn't stop screaming ‘Oh, God! Oh, God!’ I finally had to slap him on the face – on instructions from the flight attendant.”

The Associated Press gave us a whole article on the subject, titled “A hair-raising flight into Baghdad,” referring to “a stomach-churning series of tight, spiraling turns that pin passengers deep in their seats.”

I’ve flown into that airport three times now; each time was in a military C-130 Hercules cargo plane, and each landing was as smooth as the proverbial baby’s behind. But Ghosh is describing a descent in a civilian Fokker F-28 jet, on which admittedly I have never flown. (It’s $900 one-way for the short hop from Amman to Baghdad, and therefore the transportation of well-heeled media people.) So I asked a reporter friend who frequently covers combat in the Mideast and Africa, and has also frequently flown into Baghdad on those Fokkers. “The plane just banks heavily,” he said. “It’s not a big deal.” He requested anonymity, lest he incur the wrath of other journalists for spoiling their war stories...