The number of embeds in Iraq is so small it’s grotesque. During the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, more than 600 reporters, TV crews and photographers were embedded with Coalition Forces, according to the Associated Press. Last year, during the vote to ratify a new constitution, there were 114. At the end of September, there only 11 and one of them was me.
Embeds offer a unique perspective on the war in that they’re actually viewing it. Contrast this with the mainstream media Baghdad press corps that bizarrely believes it can cover a country of 26 million people and the size of California from hotels in a single city using stringers, phone calls, and email. They may as well be back in the States except for their desire to have the coveted title of “War Correspondent.” Vietnam gave us the first war in virtually real time; Iraq is giving us the first virtual war.
Further, it speaks volumes that war critics like screenwriter-director Nora Ephron has vilified embeds, insisting they’re “too close” to the war. And reporters covering Hollywood should be in Des Moines, right? What Ephron means is that the American public has no right to know what’s happening in Iraq. Embeds, through their actions, declare the opposite.
But what accounts for this dearth of embeds? Writings by Sig Christenson, president of Military Reporters and Editors (MRE), picked up this month by CNSNews.com place the blame squarely on the military. But based on my experience from three embeds in the volatile Sunni Anbar Province, I find Christenson’s conclusion lacking and his alleged statements of fact to often be flat-out wrong.
Christenson complains the emailed embed application is laborious. But I've filled out online job applications that take three times longer to complete. If you can’t fill out a questionnaire from the comfort of your desk, you have no business going to war.
Then CNS, citing Christenson, reported on the alleged enormous flight costs. "The reporter must either wait to travel to Iraq [from Kuwait or Amman, Jordan] on a U.S. military flight or fly there commercially. Roundtrip airfares from the U.S. to Baghdad begin at about $2,000."
Michael Fumento is a, journalist, and attorney specializing in science and health issues as well as author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing Our World .
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