Open Letter to Lt.Col. Barry Johnson, CPIC
Subject: Recent Interview on Pat Campbell's show.
I happened to be listening to Pat Campbell's show when I heard him ask you if you knew Michael Yon. You may think it was my imagination - but I'm sure I heard you gasp as you were not only blindsided by the question but clearly uncomfortable at the mere mention of Michael Yon's name. A five second gap of silence on radio does not go unnoticed; the emnity you were harboring was palpable.
I'm sure a few people were touched by your deep concern for Michael's well-being, but surely you, better than most people, understand that you cannot spin to a PR savvy audience - especially to someone who has worked in Hollywood as long as I have- so don't insult me or Michael's far reaching, savvy and very influential global audience, by trying to do so.
I have a quote from you which appeared in TMCnet.com in March and subsequently went viral in various news media forms in which you state that CPIC:
"tries to support what the commander wants, since they're fighting the war. We don't turn down embeds at all. When we get a request, it may be very specific or broader. We go to the unit involved. They manage their own embeds! We don't force them to take anyone; we\'re not going to force anyone to interact with media. We may offer advice and talk to them about their reasoning. In the end, we respect the wishes of the unit."
So which lie do you want me and over 1 million weekly readers of Michael Yon's on-line magazine, not to mention Pat Campbells audience, to believe?? The one I just quoted or the one you told us in that interview with Pat Campbell ( an MP3 version will be circulating the Internet and blogosphere rather quickly) in which you admited turning down Mike Yon's embed?
While I am sure you believe your concern for his personal safety and well-being is heartfelt and noble, I find it utterly disingenuous.
After all, Pat Dollard, who I know personally, isn't sponsored by any MSM media, his financial health is in dire straits and he was injured TWICE, once very seriously, while being embedded with the Marines on two separate trips to Iraq. Apparently your concern for health and welfare of embeds stops at Michael Yon. Do you think that's fair??
Stop spinning Barry - you're lousy at it - you couldn't spin your way out of the mess you created when you decided to PAY to have stories planted in the Iraqi media in order to control the dissemination of information - and you can't spin your way out of the this truth - that your personal biased agenda partly fueled by a desire to prevent some truths about this war from being reported by Michael Yon, but more likely to punish him for having the audacity to take legal action against the PAO for the blatant theft of his intellectual property- are the ONLY reasons you have chosen to deny him an embed.
I do remember Michael having been credentialed by The Weekly Standard, yet his embed has still been denied.
I have read your Hold Harmless agreement, which indemifies the Military from any harm any journalist incurs. To claim that you won't allow him to embed regardless of his signing this agreement proves that there is another agenda at stake.
The Marines, the soldiers, their families and those of us in the civilian world that still support this war - and understand that Iraq is a big, complicated problem and that while the mainstream media flee or hunker down deeper in their hotel fortresses, the Western world's understanding of Iraq suffers with each passing second - want Mike Yon and Walt Gaya in the frontlines in order to salvage the mess being inflicted upon the general populace, created by an inept PAO which under your directorship, is responsible for doing a major disservice to the those who lay their lives on the line for freedom and truth.
Nothing you say or offer up to the press can be trusted since you have proven yourself to be disingenuous, incompetent, and a really bad liar!
Your unsuccessful effort at spinning the truth regarding Michael Yon, your senseless denial of his embed request, and your even more unsuccessful effort at winning over the media and by fiat the hearts and minds of ALL Americans with regards to our war on terror resulting in the undocumented efforts and success of our troops is not a legacy you should be proud of.
Does it make you feel somewhat humbled to know that the terrorists have been better able to work the media in their favor than you have in ours?.
Quoting Sec Def Rumsfeld:
"We've arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press, and reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact"
Had it not been for Michael Yon- a writer who possesses a better understanding of military ops than most credentialed journalists on the big media payrolls, who can and does provide full context to the events he witnesses, who continues to be interviewed by major print, radio, tv and on-line media as the GOLD standard for ALL coverage in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and who garners the respect of generals, a long list of Lt.Col's, grunts, Marines, airmen, seamen, special forces, Hollywood celebs, and even "administration hating, anti military, lets cut and run" Democrats - this war would have been completely lost on the homefront in 2005 thanks to a biased agenda filled media, thus handing over a huge victory to jihadists around the world; and not even your plan to pay for good news to be planted in the media could have salvaged that scenario.
People want the whole picture - something besides combat- which is exactly what Michael Yon provided in his evocative, insightful, informative, riveting and honest dispatches. Yet you deny him an embed for personal reasons and then mislead the public as to why you took this ludicrous action.
This is reprehensible Lt.Col, simply reprehensible. It smacks of censorship, a vendetta, and an overall misguided need to control the dissemination of information from both Iraq and Afghanistan - none of which bodes well for you, the Military and especially our troops in harms way.
I seriously question and strongly doubt your commitment to ensuring that the entire truth - good bad and ugly- reaches the minds and hearts of a global populace.
I just returned from LA - where I spent time with many of those I've worked with during my 10 years of being an agent in Hollywood. The Hollywood elites HATE the military and this Administration and feel they were lied to about why Iraq needed to be invaded and Saddam removed from power, but, in every conversation I've had Mike Yon is cited as the best and most trusted source that they read. There are offers being fielded to turn his soon -to- be -released book "The Battle For Mosul" into a film project. In relaying to these people why his embed has been denied (based on what you said in this radio interview and what Mike wrote on his website) the response has been that once again the man at the heart of, if not directly responsible for paying to have good news placed in the media shines the spotlight on why anything coming out of Military Public Affairs Offices is subject to skepticism.
Again I ask you, Lt Col Johnson - is THIS the legacy you want both personally and professionally?
Let me be clear that this isn't just "small talk" amongst jaded celebs - this meme is growing fast and going viral - and not just among Democrats but among the Hollywood Republicans - one who is a very important political figure and running for re election - and also among milbloggers, media bloggers, and those responsible for ultimately taking down Dan Rather at CBS and Eason Jordan at CNN.
It is a well known fact that the Pentagon Public Affairs has reached out to bloggers writing about the military and continues to do so. Bill Roggio was
" invited to embed with the Marines by Col. Lapan who arranged his embed. In Lapan's view: "We have invited bloggers . . . to embed in an effort to tell the story. Bloggers, in my mind, are just another means to communicate accurate, truthful information about what we do"
Marine Col. Lapan GETS IT. Either you don't which means you should NOT be the CPIC Director - or you do - which means you refused Mike Yon's embed soley to exercise a personal vendetta.
I cannot sit by idly as you continue to contribute to the souring of media and military relations that both Joe Galloway and Marine Col Lapan have cited:
"I see things headed in the wrong direction. I don't think we're at the point we were post-Vietnam, but it's headed that way."
We have lost this war in the media, Sir, and as the CPIC Director, you remain completely accountable for that failure.
I have already contacted influential Generals and Lt.Col's I know personally - some stateside and some now deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan - who have praised Mike Yon and who want him embeded with their units. I further intend to contact a rather extensive list of milbloggers, as well as more Republican and Democrats elites in Hollywood and the political arena.
This will go viral, Lt.Col. Johnson, and it will blowback on you professionally as it becomes clear that you have done a HUGE disservice to our troops, their families, the Military in general, our President, the media and the American people.
I ask you to put aside your personal vendetta, your pettiness and your ego, and to please provide Mike Yon and his team with any embeds he requests.
And furthermore, I ask that you stop standing in the way of others who have requested embeds and for no understandable reason, been denied.
Pajamas Media "How Many Embedded Reporters Cover The Iraq War"
The Belmont Club - "Censorship By The Military"
The Adventures of Chester " Michael Yon Names Names