Welcome to the 'Sheeniverse'
Brown, Tina, Newsweek
Byline: Tina Brown
Two wild men hang out together.
One insane celebrity deserves another. The writer of the piece this week on Charlie Sheen is Michael Ware, the blaspheming, crooked-nosed Australian war correspondent whose unnerving reporting from Iraq for CNN was gotten by living on the edge of death for 10 years. "You've put me in a f--king craphouse hotel that even in BAGHDAD would have been considered a S--THOLE," he shouted down the phone at me in the course of a fee discussion that better resembled a hostage negotiation.
What Michael Ware has done in the line of fire makes Apocalypse Now seem like a Boy Scout training video. In 2004 he was held at gunpoint by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's murderous thugs who intended to execute him on video until his Baath Party guards negotiated his release. In 2008 he filmed a shooting of a young Iraqi man by U.S. troops. The bullet did not immediately kill him. "We all spent the next 20 minutes listening to his tortured breath as he died," Ware told an Australian newspaper. A friend, journalist John Martinkus, says Ware became "obsessed" with the footage, watching it "over and over again," haunted by the stark moral choice between helping the dying man and performing as a journalist. (The footage was deemed too graphic to air.) Severe (and understandable) posttraumatic stress triggered a leave of absence from CNN, and eventually his resignation.
In the course of editing The Daily Beast over the past few years, I made repeated efforts to get the gifted Ware, self-exiled since 2010 in Australia and dealing with his drug problem, back to writing. His tortured replies spoke of not being ready. It was the death of the great photojournalist Tim Hetherington, who was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya in 2011, that finally--after a series of late-night emails--enabled me to pull a great piece out of him for our newly acquired Newsweek. …