Factual · Powerful · Original · Iconoclastic
. . . it was a bit like going to Ramadi. You had to be there to believe it. I liked the odds, three of them against me. Along with Franken, there was Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director and founder of the leftie Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Jane Arraf, a press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the former Baghdad bureau chief for CNN. Asked if I thought Americans were getting the real story from Iraq, I said no and much of the blame lay with reporters who refuse to leave their Baghdad hotels. Instead they rely on wholly unreliable stringers. I said if they didn't have the guts to go out to get the stories, they had no place taking the slot of somebody else who might. Naturally Arraf leapt to the media's defense, talking about the dangers of being shot down by a missile while landing in Baghdad, the dangers of the airport road to the Green Zone . . . I cut her off. Nobody has ever been shot down landing at that airport and virtually nobody has been killed on that road this year. Reporters come in by armored bus or helicopter. She was spewing reporter bravado, I said, and I didn't want to hear it because there are brave reporters who truly do risk their lives. Here's where it gets unbelievable. She told me I had no idea how bad a Baghdad hotel could be! Holy cow! I just came back from being machine-gunned, mortared, and sniped and she's complaining that the linen is sometimes dirty at the Al Rashid?
Turns out I just couldn't win. Later Rieckhoff commented on my having left the womb of hotel land by saying there are civilians who just love seeing combat, giving it some derogatory name that I don't recall but basically equates with "adrenaline junkie." So get this. If you don't report from where the action is, you're a chickenhawk or chairborne ranger. If you DO, you're pathological. Thank you very much for that analysis, Paul! I hope the book you're hawking sells one copy and that when your mom is through with it she takes it back to the store for a refund.