Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Formerly Embedded British Journalist Reacts to Meo: "I Was Appalled"

A seasoned British war correspondent who has been embedded with American combat troops is aghast at the conduct of Daily Telegraph reporter Nick Meo. As reported here and elsewhere, Meo recently accompanied our troops on a mission in Afghanistan. When the mission turned deadly, the uninjured Meo wangled an escape on board a Medevac chopper, and later filed an error-filled report that took pot-shots at the very troops who saved his life.

Until now, public outcry against Meo has been limited to the American milblogging community (whom I have dubbed The Pitchfork Brigade). Yesterday, however, I learned that certain members of the British media are rummaging through their own garden sheds in search of some multi-tined, manure-shifting implements to use upon Meo. The most outspoken is a highly respected journalist who accompanied U.S. troops into combat in Iraq. The journalist spoke to me only on condition that I conceal his identity. I assure you, though, that I have vetted his bona fides, and he is thoroughly legit.

The journalist read Meo's original article and also viewed Meo's on-scene video. His reaction:

"I was appalled. It was a crappy piece of work."

The journalist took issue with Meo on a number of points.

"I read what Meo reported, and I saw the video. It did not sound like the soldiers were going crazy with firepower [as Meo described]. It didn't even sound particularly chaotic to me." It was, if such a thing is possible, a normal combat scene. "It was nothing other than what you would expect."

The journalist scoffed at Meo's comparison of our National Guard to the U.K.'s Territorial Army. "The Territorial Army in Britain is kind of a joke. It's nothing like the National Guard. Meo doesn't appear to understand what the National Guard is. He has no clue."

The veteran reporter was dismayed by Meo's behavior and attitude. High on the shamefulness scale was Meo's scramble to get the Hell out of Dodge when things got too hot for comfort.

"He flew back to base in a Medevac because he was too scared to ride in the convoy." One thing Meo seemed to forget: "The troops don't have that choice."

That incident alone violates the unspoken creed of serious combat correspondents. "If you're embedded, you live and maybe die with the troops."

Meo violated other tenets of the creed, as well.

"The whole thing about being embedded presents a minefield of what you report and what you don't. The last thing you want to do as a reporter is to put down your notebook or your camera when something interesting happens. But when you are embedded, you are being protected by the troops. They feed you and take care of you. They do their best to make sure you are safe. In return, there are rules. A primary rule is, you don't film casualties until the next of kin are notified. And you don't use that protection to take advantage of the troops or to take hits against them."

Nor do you show disdain for the dead. "I read about Corporal Dimond, the man who was killed. He was a very interesting man. A good man. Meo could have written a nice tribute piece to him, with quotes from the family." Instead, Meo wrote only that he was glad he had not bothered to get to know the fallen soldier. "I doubt now that anyone from Corporal Dimond's family would even speak to Nick Meo or the Daily Telegraph."

The journalist did not like the tone of Meo's articles. "I hated the 'it's all about me' angle in his story." Worse yet, though, was that Meo took cheap advantage of prejudice and misconceptions directed at American soldiers.

"I spent a lot of time with American troops, and I can tell you without hesitiation, I have tremendous respect for them. There is a smug British conceit, though, that British troops are precise and that they only take 'aim shots,' whereas American troops are cowboys who use overwhelming force at every opportunity. That's bullshit."

Meo apparently failed to detect the fetid smell surrounding the conceit. "Meo pandered to the view that Americans are brutes. That's an easy shot to take in Europe. No one will challenge you if you take that shot."

Was Meo trying to undermine American troops or their mission?

"He was probably under pressure from his London office to file something, and he came up with that crappy piece of work. He's a pretty small fish at his newspaper. He's not particularly well thought of. The self-aggrandizing article was an attempt to boost his status in-house."

The attempt backfired. "He clearly did not know what was going on."

Note: Neither Nick Meo nor the Daily Telegraph responded to requests for interviews.

18 comments:

brat said...

I was also appalled, and said so in my own piece. It WAS all about Meo, who obviously was totally clueless (at the least) about American troops and what they were doiong there.

I could think of many clever adjectives to reiterate what I think of him, but I don't need to. Others have been far more eloquent.

Thank you for this one. And oh yes, I am still waiting (altho not with bated breath...lol) for a response to MY Memo to Meo.

Susan Katz Keating said...

Thanks, Brat. Excellent work on that Memo to Meo. Let's see if you get anything back (tho I'm not doing any breath-holding, either!)

Ky Woman said...

Ladies,

You BOTH Rock!!!

Pitchfork Brigade at the ready...

Bill and Bob's Excellent Adventure said...

Great post; great opinions from someone who knows how it's supposed to be done.

The Daily Telegraph is paying attention. They spent 8 minutes at my site today. I bet they've been by to view you, too. It does matter.

Susan Katz Keating said...

Oooo.... I best Meo's pea brain is working overtime trying to figure out how to get out of this one. Heh, heh.

Anonymous said...

Stop picking on Nick. He was only trying to do his job, just like you.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 10/30/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

ROGUE GUNNER said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, I will post this story on my Blog and let the wider British military community know what a buffoon this guy is , God Bless America & Great Britain on the War On Terror

RG.

StewFalcon said...

Very good piece Susan. Thank you for staying with this story.

Susan Katz Keating said...

RG and Stewfalcon, I appreciate the comments! Rest assured, I'm not finished on this one.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to have to say this but the British journalist's comments would have carried more weight had he been willing to reveal his name

NahnCee said...

What difference does the British journalist's name make, since no one in America will have ever heard of him any way.

And really, when it comes down to it, the only ones who matter in this story are the American soldiers doing the job and the American taxpayers paying for them to do the job.

It's awful what this little scab on the ass of humanity chose to write, but ultimately it's also pathetic because it just doesn't matter one way or the other *what* a Brit journalist thinks or does.

Nevertheless, roast him slowly over the white flame of internet publicity and send him squealing home to his mum's basesment.

Susan Katz Keating said...

Response to Anonymous:

Yes, the comments would have carried more weight had the journalist used his name, just as yours would have. Like yourself, though, the journalist had reasons to withhold his identity. The difference is, I know HIS reasons, and can affirm that they are legitimate.

bis said...

Great article Susan!! I have been reading this same unbelievable report from several different areas so that tells me it has to be true. One report was from a military commander that was in the same area so it is obvious that Mr. Meo is lying and did a horrible job of videoing and reporting. Shame on him and I do hope no one holds his actions against any of the other Brit troops because they are not all like him. God Bless all of our troops and May God bless and teach Mr. Meo some manners and help him to mature into a real man.

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hmm... bookmarked post ))

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