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12-28-05, 11:04 AM #1
Bill Roggio fights back against the Washington Post...
Bill Roggio fights back against the Washington Post...
Radioblogger ^ | 12/27/05 | Bill Roggio / Hugh Hewitt
Bill Roggio fights back against the Washington Post hit piece on him.
HH: I'm so pleased now to continue part two of the lookback at the meltdown in the mainstream media by talking to Bill Roggio right now. I believe he's still in Iraq. Bill, are you still there?
BR: Hi, Hugh. No, I left Iraq. I've been home for about a week now.
HH: All right. Bill, you were the subject of a slamdown in the Washington Post yesterday. I read it the same way you did, an attempt to cast you as bought and paid for propagandist. And you responded today. What's the reaction been to this Washington Post attack on your credentials, and have they responded yet to your post later today?
BR: Actually, I forwarded by response to Jonathan Finer, and he basically said he didn't disagree with anything I said. He doesn't seem to understand why I might be upset by the article. I'm not really upset. Actually, when I granted the interview, I expected to be branded as an information operation. But I figured it was better for me to get my voice out there, and to tell my side of the story, rather than allow them to tell it for me, but...
HH: Bill, let's back up a little bit, in case someone just joined us. Tell people about why you went to Iraq, what you saw there, what you reported there, and why you came back.
BR: Sure. I've been covering the operations in Iraq, and the political situation for about a year and a half, and in depth, I've been covering the military operations in Western Iraq, along the Euphrates rat line. Ever since Fallujah, I recognized that it seemed to me that we had a clear plan to defeat the most violent element of the insurgency, al Qaeda's influence along the Euphrates rat line. And I began to document the operations along the Euphrates River, and elsewhere in Iraq, and also put in context the training of the military, and how this was improving the situation in Iraq. Over the spring, my website, my writing got noticed by the 2nd Regimental combat team, the operations officer, Col. Starling and Col. Davis, the commander of 2nd Regimental combat team, they told me that...they called my site the command chronology of Western Iraq. And they basically said that I'm the only person that's discussing the operations in context, and providing a balanced look at this. So in the fall, they suggested to me...they basically sent an invite, said hey, come on out to Iraq, and see what you're talking about. See for yourself. And they planted a seed for me to go. I never considered it. I didn't know it was an option. I thought embedding was only for journalists. So I looked into it, and raised money from my readers. I made arrangements with work to take a leave of absence, and I went to Iraq. And I embedded with the Marines, and I went from Ramadi, all the way up to the Syrian border, and I observed what the Marines were doing, walked patrols, rode on the river, went on an IED hunt in Ramadi. It was amazing to see our troops and our Marines operating in Iraq, and to see the success that they've had. I've been very positive about the progress in Iraq, and I was stunned by the progress that I saw out there.
HH: Now, and you were with the troops in front line situations a lot. I read your dispatches.
BR: Yes, I was. As soon as I would get to a place, I'd say okay, let's go out. When's the first patrol? Let's go out, because I wanted to see what they were doing, and I wanted to see how they were operating, how the Iraqi people responded to them. And I also wanted to...the Marines out there were working hand in hand with the Iraqi troops. We'd send out a squad of Marines and a squad of Iraqi troops together. They would conduct joint patrols. I wanted to see how the Iraqi troops operated. I was an infantryman myself, so I was curious to see how their tactics were, while walking patrol, if they were proficient...
HH: So why do you think the Washington Post slagged you? And they did slag you, Bill, because they implied you were just bought and kept.
BR: I think that there's...I can't explain why they would do that. I do think that they're threatened by folks like myself, and Michael Yon, that are looking beyond what the mainstream media has to offer in Iraq, the gloom and doom situation, and are striking it out on our own, and trying to...other milbloggers as well. I've seen this happen with other milbloggers. They're trying to tell...they're telling a different story, one that doesn't match what they see, and it doesn't match when we read, and what the analysis we're doing. And I think it threatens them.
HH: I couldn't agree with you more. Now has the blogosphere rallied to you, by the way?
BR: It's been...the article's been well-linked. I mean, of course, the right side of the blogosphere's been very supportive, and the left side of the blogosphere's accused me of being a paid shill for the U.S. military.
HH: How can they do that? I mean, those people are nuts.
BR: They can do it, because they have a platform. I mean, I'm a blogger at heart, and I'm a big fan of the blogosphere, but there are times where they just will pick up the untruths and run with them. I mean, I can provide a full list of my donors. I've had dozens of donors e-mail me and comment at my site saying give them my name and tell them how much I donated. I don't care, because I know. I know who gave. I know how I raised this money.
HH: Oh, and Bill, it's also...I meant to say this last hour, when Joshua Micah Marshall went up to cover the conventions last year, or the New Hampshire primary in 2004, I believe it was, he raised money to cover the trip. And it's fine. It's just how citizen journalism works. It's absolutely a model. But I have never seen anyone raise a question about that before the Washington Post story slamming you yesterday.
BR: Yeah, it's astonishing. It's just a cheap tactic. I don't understand why people can't...I think the fact that what I tried to do...I think people find it very hard to believe that I have convictions, and I have the willingness to follow through. I mean, my job was in jeopardy. I made a...my family was very upset with me for going, until I explained to them the reasons why I went. It wasn't a very easy decision. I have three small...I have a five, a three, and a one year old at home.
HH: Yeah, I guess your wife was upset.
BR: My wife has been my biggest supporter.
HH: But you have to do what you've got to do, right?
BR: Yeah. I just felt that this was very important, and it's one thing to sit home and write about it. I wanted to go out there and see what was happening with my own eyes.
HH: Now, the most telling criticism in your response, is that the Washington Post embeds a lot of people. And they mischaracterized the embed process, didn't they?
BR: Yes, they did. It's...I thought that was very interesting. They certainly have the resources to find out...to know how the embed process works. And Jonathan Finer e-mailed me and said he's embedded with the Marines before. He has to understand how the embed process works. I thought another telling thing was...I asked the public affairs officer out there if other jounalists had been invited to embed, and they have. And you know, this article made it sound like me being invited to embed with the Marines was just some unheard of, novel, and unique situation. The media, just before Operation Steel Curtain, Jonathan Finer himself was invited to embed with the Marines, and he declined.
HH: Oh, now that's very interesting. He did do an embed during the invasion.
BR: Sure. He has embedded, and I'm not going to disparage him. He's certainly had the willingness to go out and get on the front lines with the troops, and my hat goes off to him. But he's been invited to embed. So to say that it's unheard of to embed a blogger, when the media is being invited to embed in situations, what's the difference?
HH: Now tell me something. Did you see any other media out with you when you are in Anbar Province, along the Syrian border?
BR: Yes. I ran into media only at media events in Ramadi, and then right on the Syria border in Husaba, where they had a ceremony with the prime minister, or the...I'm sorry, the defense minister of Iraq, and General Casey. And some of the questions they asked were very amusing. I was standing there chuckling at some pretty idiotic questions.
HH: Do you think the mainstream media is simply ignorant of basic military vernacular in operations?
BR: I do. I do. One of the questions they asked General Casey point blank, and I saw the expression on his face. I felt sorry for General Casey. They said we have 150,000 troops on the Syrian border. What makes you think that the Iraqi troops can stop infiltrators coming across.
HH: Oh my gosh.
BR: There's no 150,000 massed on that border.
HH: Who asked that question?
BR: To be honest with you, at that point, I didn't catch who it was.
HH: Did they go out with the troops to the extent that you and Yon have done so, to your knowledge?
BR: You know, there was...I believe it was...my apologies for forgetting the name, but the woman with the Christian Science Monitor, I did go out on a run out to look up...there was a report of some munitions out on a farm, and she did go out with them. That was the only time I saw reporters...oh, actually, and there was a Sky News team that went and embedded with a front line unit, and they had a...the cameraman was a 19 year SAS, a British special forces veteran.
HH: So Bill Roggio, I've got thirty seconds. Grade the mainstream media's performance in the last year in Iraq.
BR: I'd say it's been poor.
HH: A D?
BR: A D. Sure.
HH: That's what I think, too.
BR: But they focused on the bomb of the month, and they're not looking at the overall progress.
HH: And that's why, Bill, the Post, and every other MSM, is going to slap you down. Because they don't want anyone out there with the credibility and the experience to contradict the garbage they're putting out there. Bill Roggio, welcome home. Good to have you home. Great blog today. It's linked at Hughhewitt.com.
End of interview.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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