Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Michael Yon and Milbloggers: A growing chasm

It’s really sad to see what’s happening between Michael Yon and a variety of military bloggers out there. If you’re not up-to-speed on what’s going on, I suggest reading this post at Blackfive, this one by Grayhawk and even looking up Michael Yon’s Facebook page for some perspective on what everyone’s talking about.

I wish I was better informed about what’s all going on, but all I really know is this: Michael’s been really critical of Gen McChrystal and of PAOs. He’s been “disembedded” from a recent embed and lays that blame squarely on the PAO. But this isn’t the first time this has happened (in fact, if Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive is to be believed, this was the fourth time he’s been disembedded). I remember reading some time ago about his getting pulled from an embed and he blamed the PAO then. I also remember him cutting into the PAO for not providing adequate facilities for journalists.

When I first read his dispatches about this first disembed, I just kind of wrote it all off. I was a bit upset about his rough treatment of PAOs (hey, being one, it’s hard not to side with your occupational brethren), but I figured it’d been a pissy experience for him and I let it go. However, his Facebook posts over the last month or so have just been wild. He refers to all the PAOs in-country as “crazy monkeys” and says that Gen. McChrystal “needs to be watched.”

I don’t know where Michael is coming from on a lot of this. I respect everything he’s done. I think he’s a hell of a patriot and a hell of a photojournalist. However this all seems so out of character. I get that he might have had one bad experience with on bad PAO – but four freaking times? That just doesn’t make sense. And how can every PAO in country be against you?

There are several milbloggers who have written to and about Michael’s recent FB postings. A lot of folks are reaching out to him; asking him to take a look at what he’s doing and what he’s writing. But there are a lot of folks who are coming to Michael’s defense. It’s sad. I can only comment on what I see and it looks like Michael’s in the wrong here, but all this is really going to do is further factionalize the folks out there who are trying their damnedest to provide us information about our War. That’s the shame, regardless of who’s right or wrong.


Andy said...

Cullen, I'm speaking from true ignorance here. But, maybe the stress is taking its' toll on him.

I don't know exactly how much time he's spent embedded, but it seems like he has been at this for a loooooong time now.

I understand that too many tours can wreak havoc on a soldier...maybe the same thing on a journalist?

Dunno. But thanks for the info.

Cullen said...

He's been in and out of Afghanistan and Iraq for years. I'd bet he's spent more time abroad than in the states the past five years or so. It's had to have some impact on him.

I kind of depart from a lot of the milbloggers out there. They chastise him for writing from first-person and putting himself in the story too much. I don't mind that "gonzo" style of journalism. But when he does it to the detriment of those around him - it's hard to know the truth of what's going on.

I'd just like Michael to calm down a bit and perhaps take a look at his situation and realize that everyone there isn't out to get him. Public Affairs Officers don't go kicking people off embeds without reason. I'm more worried about what this chasm will do to the respect engendered by milbloggers so far. The military and Pentagon have gone a long way toward facilitating blogging roundtables and such with subject matter experts. If guys like Yon can't play by the rules, the Pentagon will start closing off access. I mean, I'm in PAO. It's what I'd do.

Andy said...

Yeah Cullen, I see where you're coming from. The bloggers are really vital right now. If we relied on the MSM, well...you know.

You're not active, are you...Reserve, or Guard? Just curious.

Cullen said...

I was active from '94 to '03. I'm now a government civilian working for the Navy. One of them damn bureaucratic, government-teet-sucking types.

Andy said...

Heh! Good on ya'! I figured you for a teet sucker...

Just kiddin'! I knew that you were in the service at one time or another...just not sure of the current status. Thanks for the taking time to edjumacate me, Cullen.

Andy said...

Cullen, I'm still in the dark on this, but at least one guy has an opinion.

Cullen said...

Yeah, Uncle Jimbo on B5 linked that yesterday. Too funny.