Michael Yon throws down

| September 26, 2009

Remember that old saying about never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel? It applies even more with someone with as solid a ‘net reputation as Michael Yon. The British Media Ops over in Helmand Province (where my nephew, USMC CPL Darren Green, is serving) ended Yon’s embed with the British Army in an effort to shut him up.  Wrong move:

The Major said again that Lt. Col. Nick Richardson demanded that I leave RC-South, and that Media Ops would forward my satellite and night vision gear that was in transit.  Before the Major had stomped out, I said that I was not leaving Camp Bastion until those packages were in my hands.  I told him to call Lt. Col. Nick Richardson at Lashkar Gah—a nearby base—and say that if Richardson wants me gone, he’d need to call the Royal Military Police (RMP).  The satellite gear is crucial to the operation and the night vision gear is expensive.  I was not going to leave without the gear unless under arrest.  I had heard the Major arrogantly tell a correspondent how a soldier had punched another correspondent and “knocked him on his ass.”  Bullying apparently had been working for him; he was still doing it.

“Go ahead,” I said, “Call the RMPs right now.  Have them come down and flex cuff me and put me on an airplane out of here.”  I waited for the RMP’s to arrive and arrest me.  At least they would be professionals.

There is the maxim that a customer can judge the cleanliness of a restaurant’s kitchen by the restroom.  After much experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, I have discovered another: Soldiers always treat correspondents they way they treat the local people.  When soldiers treat correspondents badly, they treat local people even worse and are creating enemies.  Those troops who brag about how they mistreat or detest correspondents are abusing and resentful of the local population, and they cannot win this sort of war.  The people will kill them and the media will bash them and they will blame the people and the media.  When a soldier alienates sympathetic correspondents, he has no real chance against mortal enemies such as the Taliban and al Qaeda, and they will defeat him.  Yet there is subtlety: for “the people,” in the case of Media Ops, is you.

Be sure to take the time to read the whole thing. If there were any sense and/or justice in the world of journalism, Michael Yon would have received the Pulitzer Prize several times over.

And while you’re at it, go support Yon. He’s entirely self-funded. I don’t subscribe to any news magazines or newspapers. But I pay $10/month via my PayPal account to keep Yon out in the field.

Worth every penny.  ..bruce w..

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Category: Geopolitics, Journalism, Main, Media, Military

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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