Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq

Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq

Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq

Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq


"The interviews crackle with immediacy." -The New York Times

"It is my hope that this outstanding piece of work will reach the widest possible distribution and readership." -Dan Rather, CBS News, on the John Burns interview

EMBEDDED is a collection of deeply emotional and highly personal accounts of covering the Iraq War. Many of the world's top war correspondents and photographers speak candidly about life on the battlefield. Here are articulate and heartfelt descriptions of fear and firefights, of bullets and banalities, of risking death and meeting deadlines.

With over sixty interviews conducted in Kuwait and Iraq shortly after many returned home, Katovsky and Carlson allowed these journalists to step outside their professional role as journalists and examine the lethal allure of combat reporting.

Here is CBS Evening News correspondent Jim Axelrod discussing the perils of racing to Baghdad while despondent over the death of a television colleague and being unexpectedly comforted by ABC News Nightline's Ted Koppel; Newsweek reporter Scott Johnson unwittingly driving into an ambush and then kicking out the windshield of his bullet-riddled car to escape the Iraqi gunmen; New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns's brave refusal to be intimidated by his Iraqi information ministry minders; and many, many more.
Each interview in EMBEDDED maps its own personal path and narrative arc, while presenting an emotional window to war and reporting. Taken individually, each offers a unique view of the most-covered war in history. Collectively, EMBEDDED is an eyewitness to history that will do for the war in Iraq what Michael Herr's Dispatches did for Vietnam.


Let's start with one simple fact about the war in Iraq: Statistically, journalists were ten times more likely to die than the 250,000 American or British soldiers.

Long before cruise missiles slammed into Saddam's suspected hideouts in late March, and long before convoys of Abrams tanks, fuel tankers, and Bradley fighting vehicles rumbled from Kuwait through holes bulldozed in Iraq's defensive berms, the Pentagon issued a Super Bowl's worth of media credentials—2,700 of them—to a worldwide army of reporters, photographers, and television and radio crews. “This will be the most covered war in history,” observed Jim Wilkinson, the U.S. Central Command's director of strategic communications, prior to the fighting. His prediction hit the bullseye.

This journalistic invasion marked a significant turnaround from the first Gulf War, when a wary military, still trying to shake the Vietnam monkey off its back, micro-managed battlefield news by limiting press access. in the buildup to the new Iraqi campaign, war planners tossed aside any lingering doubts they had about the media by presenting a slick new public-relations concept known as “embedding.”

Embedded reporters ate, lived, traveled, and slept with the troops. They choked on the same sandstorm grit, and carried the same mandatory gas mask and chem suits. They dined on the same MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), and bounced along the same rutted desert tracks. They faced the same enemy fire.

Not all embeds were created or treated equally. Ted Koppel, ABC's latenight institution, traveled with Major General Buford Blount iii, division commander of the Third Infantry Battalion, while reporters from mid-size newspapers found themselves wedged into foul-smelling Humvees loaded with privates and specialists—kids actually, old enough to shoot, but not necessarily old enough to drink.

Embedding borrowed from earlier wars. General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander in World War ii, declared that “public opinion wins wars, and I have always considered as quasi-staff officers [the] correspondents accredited to my headquarters.” Censorship was still the norm. Throughout the duration of the Vietnam war, the first television war, nearly 700 reporters rotated through the countryside, slogging through the jungles . . .

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