Wednesday, June 24, 2009:Army bars Stars and Stripes reporter from covering 1st Cav unit in MosulMaybe it's just me, but I seem to remember a “goddamned piece of paper” saying something about freedom of the press.
Asserting that Stars and Stripes “refused to highlight” good news in Iraq that the U.S. military wanted to emphasize, Army officials have barred a Stripes reporter from embedding with a unit of the 1st Cavalry Division that is attempting to secure the violent city of Mosul.
Officials said Stripes reporter Heath Druzin, who covered operations of the division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team in February and March, would not be permitted to rejoin the unit for another reporting tour because, among other things, he wrote in a March 8 story that many Iraqi residents of Mosul would like the American soldiers to leave and hand over security tasks to Iraqi forces.
Additionally, Col. Gary Volesky, the 3rd Brigade’s commander, asserted that Druzin “would not answer questions about stories he was writing.”
Now fast forward a few weeks.
Monday, August 24, 2009:Journalists' recent work examined before embedsNotice there is nothing about accuracy in their standards.
U.S. public affairs officials in Afghanistan acknowledged to Stars and Stripes that any reporter seeking to embed with U.S. forces is subject to a background profile by The Rendon Group, which gained notoriety in the run-up to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq for its work helping to create the Iraqi National Congress. That opposition group, reportedly funded by the CIA, furnished much of the false information about Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction used by the Bush administration to justify the invasion.
Rendon examines individual reporters’ recent work and determines whether the coverage was “positive,” “negative” or “neutral” compared to mission objectives, according to Rendon officials. It conducts similar analysis of general reporting trends about the war for the military and has been contracted for such work since 2005, according to the company.
But wait, there's more!
Thursday, August 27, 2009: Files prove Pentagon is profiling reportersAnd if you call now you'll receive:
Contrary to the insistence of Pentagon officials this week that they are not rating the work of reporters covering U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Stars and Stripes has obtained documents that prove that reporters’ coverage is being graded as “positive,” “neutral” or “negative.”
“They are not doing that [rating reporters], that’s not been a practice for some time — actually since the creation of U.S. Forces–Afghanistan” in October 2008, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters Monday. “I can tell you that the way in which the Department of Defense evaluates an article is its accuracy. It’s a good article if it’s accurate. It’s a bad article if it’s inaccurate. That’s the only measurement that we use here at the Defense Department.”
But the Rendon profiles reviewed by Stars and Stripes prove otherwise. One of the profiles evaluates work published as recently as May, indicating that the rating practice did not in fact cease last October as Whitman stated.
And the explicit suggestions contained in the Rendon profiles detailing how best to manipulate reporters’ coverage during their embeds directly contradict the Pentagon’s stated policies governing the embed process.
“It’s troubling that the military is contracting a private PR firm, paid with U.S. taxpayer dollars, to profile individual reporters,” said one servicemember who declined to be identified for fear of official retribution. “It shows utter contempt for the Constitution, which we in the service pledge our lives to defend.”
Friday, August 28, 2009:Pentagon: Reporter profiling under reviewRiiiight, they never did it, and if they did do it they've stopped doing it, and if they did do what they said they didn't do and stopped doing they're still doing it and even tho they're reviewing what they didn't do they're not investigating it.
Under fire following revelations that a military command in Afghanistan is compiling profiles of reporters covering U.S. military operations, Pentagon officials acknowledged Thursday that they were reviewing the practice even as they maintained that they were not making use of “positive,” “negative” and “neutral” grades assigned to reporters’ work by a Pentagon contractor.
[Pentagon spokesman Bryan] Whitman told Pentagon reporters that he was inquiring about the issue, but he added that the Pentagon is not launching any formal inquiry to the matter.
“I haven’t seen anything that violates any policies, but again, I’m learning about aspects of this as I question our folks in Afghanistan,” Whitman said. “If I find something that is inconsistent with Defense Department values and policies, you can be sure I will address it.”
“USFOR-A has only used this information to in part help assess performance in communicating information effectively to the public,” USFOR-A spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks told Stars and Stripes in an e-mailed statement. “These reports do not ‘rate’ reporters or news outlets themselves, nor do we keep any reports on individual reporters other than personal information, name, passport or ID number, media outlet, etc….”
Shanks also contended that the compiling of the reporters’ profiles was halted in May of this year.
But those claims run counter to the actual media profiles, the existence of which Stars and Stripes revealed earlier this week. The profiles contain ratings and pie charts purporting to depict whether an individual reporter’s work is “positive,” “negative” or “neutral,” as well as advice on how best to place a reporter with a military unit to ensure positive coverage and “neutralize” negative stories.
One Pentagon correspondent who requested and received her profile on Thursday said it included her current work up through July.
"Confused? You won't be, after this week's episode of...Soap"
Saturday, August 29, 2009: Army used profiles to reject reportersCongratulations to the Stars and Stripes for their work in exposing lies from the Pentagon and maintaining the 4th Estate promise of keeping government honest. Unlike the stenographers of the corporate media, they did their jobs. There should be a Pulitzer in their future.
The secret profiles commissioned by the Pentagon to rate the work of journalists reporting from Afghanistan were used by military officials to deny disfavored reporters access to American fighting units or otherwise influence their coverage as recently as 2008, an Army official acknowledged Friday.
(You can go here to learn more about the history of Stars and Stripes.)
And now, the title song of this post starts at about 1:10:
Cross posted at VidiotSpeak