The Rolling Stone article that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal sent shudders along the always sensitive fault line of military-media relations. When a reporter with a pad and a tape recorder helps to take down a four-star general in charge of winning a war, it gets the attention of both warriors and scribes, or what longtime war correspondent Joseph Galloway called the "control freaks" and the "anarchists." The questions we would like security bloggers to consider this week concern what, if anything, the incident says about media coverage of America's ongoing wars; what impact it will have going forward on military-media relations; and what lessons should be taken from the incident by both soldiers and journalists.
Ever since former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld allowed for the "embedding" of hundreds of journalists during the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a counter to Saddam Hussein's propaganda machine, the idea has taken hold that both the media and military can benefit from a close working relationship where journalists are given extended and unprecedented access to military units and commands. Do you believe that concept has served the military, the press and the American public well, in terms of accurate and in-depth coverage of U.S. conflicts? Is the Rolling Stone article the exception that proves the rule that reporters tend to get too chummy with their subjects under such conditions? Will the McChrystal firing set back military-media relations and cause the Pentagon to view extended exposure to journalists as a possible threat to careers and missions? How should the press cover a war fairly and accurately?