Sunday, August 14, 2005

I'm a bloodthirsty warmonger

OK, so there I was watching the Redskins losing their first pre-season game, when at halftime I switch over to Fox News. Low and behold, its a show about the Marines in Fallujah. I've missed the first 30 minutes, but its a two hour show so I decide to watch it instead of the game.

Greg Palkot is the embedded reporter. He's done previous work with India Company and I assume he knows the guys pretty well. Scenes of the battle are pretty good and he's got interviews with a few of the Marines as they prepare for the start of the action. But then I start to get annoyed. Too many commercial breaks, too much repetition of small facts and re-re-review of things to come. Some stupid questions that I would expect to hear on other MSM channels.

On Day 4 of the battle, the company suffers its first KIA when Lieutenant J.P. Blecksmith is shot in the back. Palkot asks "How does the death of a man like this make you feel?", and then extends the mic towards Captain Brian Chontosh, the company commander. Chontosh has his back towards the camera, and it takes a couple of seconds before he turns towards the mic. It is another second or two before he speaks. In that brief time it is apparent that there is a violent battle going on not only in the city around him, but in the mind of Chontosh as well. He's obviously biting back words (and maybe a fist) as he says "Any man goin' down, you know? It doesn't matter who it is." Palkot quickly follows with "How are the men taking it?" Chontosh answers after a second "The way you'd expect them to take it."

The other problem I had with the production were the numerous up-close-and-personal interviews with grieving family members. They were interspersed throughout the show and actually took up more time than the scenes of fighting. I feel like I'm being cold and callous expressing such a complaint. I've never lost a loved one in such a violent manner so I can't pretend to know how it feels. I do care about the Marines and I feel a very real pain in my heart when I hear about the death of one of them. I just don't see the point in focusing so much attention on the bad things that happened in Fallujah when there are a gazillion good things to report.

I guess I could be spoiled by all the videos the troops have made themselves. You don't see much soul searching or grasping for answers in them. Rather, you see what the soldiers and Marines think is important, and that's mostly action.

If I were Roger Ailes and I were looking over my "talent" pool to decide who should do this story, I'd have several perquisites in mind:

1. The correspondent has some experience reporting "under duress"
2. The Pentagon would approve the embedding of this correspondent
3. The correspondent will make the most of the opportunity
4. The correspondent knows his ass from a hole in the ground

Given the talent available, I would have given the assignment to Greg Kelly. He was embedded during the initial push into Baghdad, and from his official Fox News bio:
Before pursing his career in journalism, Kelly spent nine years as a fighter jet pilot in the United States Marine Corps. During his military service, Kelly amassed 158 aircraft carrier landings and flew over Iraq in Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the United Nations imposed "No-Fly Zone." He currently holds the rank of Major in the Marine Corp Reserves.

Duh, sounds like the best guy for the job to me! But, hey, what do I know?

At the end of the show was a scene that gave me a lift. The company was posed for a group photo, and they were sounding off. The last thing they shouted was "GET SOME!"

Now that's more like it.