I wasn’t going to talk about this but it keeps coming up on FNC so I have to step in here and clear the air with a bit of a fact check. There’s been a lot of write ups on Geraldo Rivera’s 40 years in TV. Rivera is controversial. Some like him. Some can’t stand him. But he has had a more diverse career than most reporters will ever hope to have. So it’s right for Rivera to get his victory lap. He deserves one.
That all said, there’s one particular aspect of the victory lap that sort of puts a damper on the festivities for me. It concerns the “line in the sand” incident; where Rivera was accused of giving away troop positions on the ground. That incident made Rivera’s highlight reel along with a lot of other stuff like Al Capone’s vault and the chair throwing incident on his 90s talk show. I suppose the “line in the sand” is noteworthy though I wouldn’t put it in my top 5 or even top 10 highlights of Rivera’s career (though his on FNC’s air meltdown about NBC being out to get him after there were reports he was being kicked out of Iraq was must watch TV). But whatever, they decided to include it. That’s their prerogative. It’s what happened after that which got to me.
Rivera tried to downplay the incident, like it was no big deal and then went on to highlight his devotion to the US troops and included a video clip of David Patraeus thanking Rivera for his support of the troops.
I was going to let that slide Saturday night, except Rivera brought it up again on FNC this afternoon with Megyn Kelly and Rivera expanded his defense to include an attack of MSNBC. So now I have to set the record straight that Rivera is trying to gloss over.
I will not deny Rivera’s devotion to the US troops and what they’ve done. I think journalists in general could learn a thing or two from watching Rivera’s work with the troops. But to say that the “line in the sand” was no big deal is an argument that exists in an alternate reality we do not live in. It was a big deal and anyone who wants to know more about just what happened and how seriously this was taken by CENTCOM, the DOD, and FNC, one should re-read David Carr’s New York Times article on the incident…
Geraldo Rivera, the Fox News Channel correspondent who broadcast a report from Iraq on Sunday night that gave details of the position and plans of United States troops, is expected to be pulled from the country on Tuesday, military officials said yesterday.
The expected decision by Fox, a unit of the News Corporation, to remove Mr. Rivera from the battlefield, after intense pressure by the military to do so, followed a day of conflicting statements.
Yesterday morning, an official at Central Command headquarters in Camp Saliya, Qatar, said Mr. Rivera’s reporting had compromised ”operational security” and that he had been escorted back to Kuwait.
By the afternoon, Bryan G. Whitman, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for media relations, said the matter had not been settled.
”We have been in contact with the news organization,” Mr. Whitman said. ”They are taking it very seriously, and we will make the appropriate determination once we have been able to evaluate all the facts here.”
And it wasn’t just a line in the sand that was the issue here but time has dulled people’s memories apparently. Here’s another refresher courtesy of Carr…
”At one point, he actually revealed the time of an attack prior to its occurrence,” Lt. Mark Kitchens, a spokesman at Central Command, said yesterday morning. Lieutenant Kitchens added that Mr. Rivera had been escorted to Kuwait.
You mention Rivera’s name these days and most people aren’t going to think of “line in the sand” too much. Yet, it’s been front and center on FNC twice now in the past three days. Fine, if FNC and Rivera want to dredge up ancient history most people don’t care about, okay. But dredge it up properly. Don’t try to sugar coat it to make it more palatable.
Related: Odd that Rivera would bring up “line in the sand” in his highlight reel but not the “hallowed ground” incident in Afghanistan which even Roger Ailes labeled as a “rookie mistake” to Broadcasting & Cable…
We asked him to apologize for a rookie mistake. He got off the helicopter, had one source; it was a Northern Alliance source. He said this was a friendly-fire incident or something. He went to air with it, immediately. He should have checked it with another source. We apologize for jumping the gun. We thought it was a rookie mistake. Sorry.
Guess that one would be a little tougher to gloss over.