Did Rolling Stone Just Kill War Reporting?
Rolling Stone's bombshell profile of Stanley McChrystal has cost the general his job. The question many journalists are now posing is: has the story also damaged the military's relationship with the press? Undoubtedly, says National Journal's foreign affairs correspondent James Kitfield. He spoke with NPR's Diane Rehm on Wednesday:
There will be no embeds in Afghanistan in higher headquarters... for quite a while. This has probably set back the reporting quite a ways because the trust between the military and the media has just been shot out of the water.
NPR's Frank James agrees:
It took decades following the Vietnam War for the mutual distrust between the military and media to be broken down. Many in the military blamed the media for losing the war.
While the wariness was never completely gone, and there were good reasons for at least some suspicion to remain, reporters embedded with units in Iraq and Afghanistan have often reported back approvingly to colleagues back home about the access they've received. The ice had melted.
But many generals and other senior officers will now likely think twice about giving reporters the kind of access Rolling Stone writer Michael Hastings had.
Apparently, the military has already begun clamming up (via Sonia Smith, via Michael Calderone). NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel says "a media blackout has been issued" and officials "who control access to the troops, do not want any of the soldiers talking."