|LETTERS FROM A WARBLOGGER: DEAR GERALDO RIVERA.|
|By Grady Olivier||
Mr. Geraldo Rivera (née Jerry Rivers)
Dear Geraldo Rivera:
I must first ask that you excuse the informality of this letter. Never have I, anonymous and unwashed, dared approach someone of your stature with anything other than a well-rehearsed and politely phrased plea for an autograph. My request here is slightly more demanding, though only slightly. I ask not for an autograph but for a datum, a one-word answer to a question. That is, I ask, is there any "journalist" in active practice who is as demonstrably unsuited to the task as you are? Should this note find you expansive and with time to spare, I further ask that, in the event of an affirmative response, you supply a name. On the latter score, though, I won't hold my breath.
I inscribe myself as among the most ardent devotees of your work, having followed your genesis from a hanger-on advocacy attorney for the Young Lords to an intrepid scourer of vaults, on through those tough years as a largely unsuccessful sparring partner to neo-Nazis, up through to your defection to Fox News. At each successive step, distracted by concerns over improperly coifed hair and insufficiently waxed moustaches, you stumbled horribly. I thought your very advent at Uncle Rupert's splendid network would mark the nadir of your pitiful career in self-absorption. You were deployed to Afghanistan in short order, where you proved my supposition wrong by establishing a stunningly low low-water mark.
I am referring of course to the poverty of your initial reports and their subsequent dissection by David Folkenflik and others sharing Folkenflik's interest in the inner-workings of outsized egos. Your insincerity when relating your dispensation of the Lord's Prayer over the "hallowed ground" of Kandahar where three servicemen perished was patent. Folkenflik and others would then demonstrate just how insincere you were by showing that you were hundreds of miles from the hallowed ground under question. Lame sputtering about the "fog of war" was offered - never mind that a war correspondent's primary duty is to minimize the effects of that fog for his customers -, as were personal denunciations of Folkenflik ("a pathetic display of almost penis envy. His idea of adventure is jaywalking"). When you at last saw fit to marshal facts to back your whine, you claimed to have confused Kandahar deaths with another incident in Tora Bora - much closer to where you had filed your report, though, unfortunately, three days after filing.
I confess finding immense enjoyment in your grotesque squirming, and thought it rather harmless at the time. Your own avocation, despite the snorts of fellow practitioners, suffered but little. After all, war correspondents paid for and built the pen in which they were kept for the duration of the first Gulf War, and known plagiarists such as Mark Steyn are allowed to operate without incurring professional sanction. There were days when lying was punishable by dismissal. As someone tickled by Geraldo - a sort of television warblogger - I was endlessly pleased on your continued employment with Fox, a happy reminder that those days are gone.
But you began to trouble me with your bizarre behavior in Afghanistan: odd rants about kicking in Osama bin Laden's head, which you then promised to "bring home and bronze," and carrying a pistol with which you would shoot bin Laden on locating him in "enemy territory." With this you ceased being laughable, and became instead liable. With the propagation of the idea that neutral correspondents actually had a battlefield function beyond the reportorial, your colleagues came under suspicion. In my judgment, this was a minor sin. Those alongside you in the Afghan wastelands proved only marginally better than you, and I doubt receipt of news of Talib's bullet ending the miserable career of, say, Judith Miller would have provoked many tears in my home.
But now you've gone and done it. Mister, do you not know that we are at war with the supremely and unambiguously forces of global Islamofascist terror? Oh, and with Saddam Hussein. Given your demonstrated inability to reckon your temporal-spatial location within 500 kilometers or 72 hours, you may well not. But ignorance, as they in civics class, is no excuse before the law, and you violated the cardinal correspondent's proscription by blabbering allegedly "crucial details of military plans" before a live camera. To expose troops - many of whom have little interest in being where they are - to additional danger as you did is unpardonable.
My unsolicited counsel: cease with your pathetic recriminations against your former employer and don't bother with your about "all the courage I've displayed and serious reporting I've done." After all, Seymour Hersh has been branded "the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist," and FReepers and allied loons are orchestrating a campaign to have Peter Arnett brought before the bar as a traitor. The danger, Jerry, is that one day these people may actually investigate and prosecute actual transgressions. Should that day come, well, one of us is . Recall my original question, and reply at your leisure. Should the same Fox that derides anti-war protests as treasonous prove itself at all consistent, you will shortly have a superfluity of it.
Keep on Truckin'
Grady Olivier is a man of many, many words. His hardcore blogging can be found at Like Father, Like Sun.