Friday, November 19, 2004

Saving Reporter Sites 

"Embedded reporter" Kevin Sites was on MSNBC several times an hour it seemed, and on Brokaw every night, until he took some rather famous pictures in a mosque.

He hasn't been seen since, on TV at least. This caused me concern, so I went to see what I could find.

WNBC TV (New York) says the "network has him under wraps" without specifying exactly where. Sites was working under contract as a freelancer, not as an NBC employee. What that means as to their ability to protect him I don't know.

As to why a reporter, doing his job, following every rule of the US Military and at the scene at the said military's request, might need protection? Did he do something bad, or at least precipitous? Let's look at some background:

The Chicago Tribune reports:

NBC, aware of how potentially damaging the footage of a wounded and possibly unarmed Iraqi being shot by a U.S. Marine could be while troops were still in battle, decided on its own to hold off on airing them for two days.

The footage was recorded Saturday by NBC News freelancer Kevin Sites, who is embedded with Marines in Fallujah. Sites was a pool reporter.

Pool footage usually is distributed via satellite transmissions, which can be intercepted by just about anyone with a satellite dish. Because of the sensitive nature of Sites' footage, NBC decided to send it out to the pool on a slow but secure Internet-based system, meaning it didn't get out until about 3:30 p.m. Chicago time Monday.
Did this restraint, this investigation, this attempt to "put the piece in context," get the network any pats on the back? It did not. We have here two viewpoints on this, which we will call the Centrist and the Right-Wing. Let's look at the calm, balanced Centrist point first:
Slate columnists:
Owen West and Phillip Carter
Updated Thursday, Nov. 18, 2004, at 10:28 AM PT

A Marine shot an unarmed insurgent in a Fallujah mosque on Saturday. We know this because we saw it. The digital video footage of the shooting—recorded by NBC reporter Kevin Sites, who was embedded with the Marines—is running nearly continuously on cable news channels worldwide.

This case would not exist without Mr. Sites.
Bullshit number 1, dear Centrists. "The case" is the shooting of an unarmed, wounded prisoner. That would exist whether Mr. Sites photographed it or not. What you mean is "this embarrassment" only exists because there is tape of it. As my mother was wont to say in difficult moments, "You're not sorry you did it, you're sorry you got caught." But to continue:

That a young soldier deferred to instinct over the rulebook in combat is unsurprising. What was surprising was the near-instant transmission of a battlefield video around the world, allowing us to witness the actions of one American rifleman.
Bullshit number 2. See Tribune quote above. The networks did NOT put this on the satellite and did NOT air it "instantly" but after two days of dithering, mostly waiting for the battle to be largely over.

But now let's look at the Right-Wing View on the unfortunate matter. They, the 101st Fighting Keyboarders as tBogg calls them, have a low opinion of moral ambiguity. They want swift justice, swift punishment of the guilty.

Of course they don't mean the Marine should be punished! They meay Kevin Sites. According to Jesus' General, who has a vastly stronger stomach than I to read this stuff, here's what they think at Free Republic (get yer own link):

Turn Sites over to the terrorist.
No need for anything overt. Unfortunate things happen in combat zones, and if the reporter fails to hear someone yell "Sniper!!", well, c'est la guerre.
The US attorney general may be able to charge him with sedition.
I wish. This guy Sites shouldn't walk away from this unscathed. Red America wants justice.
If the government won't police the press there will come a day when the people will.
It better charge Sites, that treasonous bastard!
He's an effin traitor. He is aiding the enemy. He should be tried and killed.
He sure behaved like a Judas didn't he? He certainly is doing the leg work for our Islamofascist enemies
Kevin Sites is a traitor. He shouldn't be allowed to get away with this
The Constitution was written for the common man and for Christian's sense of Justice. Common law represents God's law. American Justice may seem rough and crude to you, but it is based on godly liberties. Sites is in a WAR ZONE. He has aided the enemy. If he cared about what was going he should have ran back to the brass...not to MSNBC. He's either looking for a pulitzer or he's effin traitor. Either way...he's done.
Love that "Red America" bit, don't you? "Red: It's Not Just For Commies Any More!" Can you imagine the hissy, spitty fit they'd throw if this was a term "we" had come up with to describe "them"?

Snark aside, it's actually the Slate piece that I find more depressing. It boils down to "Well, this was an awful thing, but These Things Happen in War." Hey guys, after you get done parsing how much really, really worse the Terrorists are, could you turn your fine-tuned Moral Analyzer on the folks who brought the Marine, the reporter and the wounded guys together in that mosque that day?

UPDATE Tinfoil hat time. Hmmm, Kevin Sites showed up on a freeper hate site. Say, didn't Nick Berg's dad show up on one of those too? You know, I'd hate to think that "our" government has some sort of death squad operating, that's taking its names from the freepers. And certainly our Ambassador to Iraq, Negroponte, would know nothing, Nothing! of such activities...Anyhow, if Sites shows up in a video in an orange jumpsuit, you read about it here at Corrente first. —Lambert

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