I seldom post other people’s blog posts verbatim, but Bill Roggio (who is one of the best out there) rebuts Joe the Plumbers comments suggesting that we should get rid of war correspondents so well. I couldn’t resist.

This one is a must read (from the Weekly Standard blog):

There has been no shortage of coverage of Joe the Plumber’s foray into reporting on the Israeli military operation in Gaza. As someone who started reporting on the war as an independent reporter, I could understand PJTV’s decision to support citizen journalism by sending Joe to Israel. Sure, the decision was clearly made to generate publicity for the conservative, web-based news service, but PJTV’s decision to expend their resources is theirs to make.

After a few days of watching Joe fumble through interviews and issue his awkward opinions, it’s clear the guy is in over his head. Here’s what Joe has to say about the media and their coverage of the war:

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war (sic). I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for them. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.

I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.

First, if the media shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a war, what are you doing there, Joe? And why did PJTV send you?

Second, while embedded as an independent reporter in Iraq and Afghanistan several times, I have seen journalists do some appalling things. I could probably write a book about it, but honestly I’m far more interested in the war itself. Despite what I have seen, I believe the media should have access during conflicts. Shutting the media out would entirely concede the information to al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, etc. who are increasingly developing sophisticated information strategies. Yes, there is bad and slanted reporting coming out of the combat zones, but there also are good reporters out there who can get the story right. The public needs to hear these stories to understand the nature of the war.

Third, if Joe’s spent any real time with the military, he’d know they typically don’t want reporters to cheerlead for them. In my experience, all the troops on the ground want is a fair shake (senior commanders may or may not want such candor). If something is working, they want you to tell that story, and if something is going wrong, they want that story out there too. One reason for the latter is that often the media can serve as a back door to get some problems fixed that the chain of command may be ignoring.

Finally, Joe is advocating a 1940’s media strategy for wars that are being fought in the 21st Century. We can’t roll back the mass access to print, television, the Internet, cell phones, etc. and push the news on grainy films at the theater.

The real irony here is that PJTV, a 21st Century, Internet-based news organization is sending a reporter–who doesn’t want reporters to report on war–to report on a war. And apparently Joe would love to return to the days when the news was influenced by the government and seen at the theater.


Somebody shoot me


TOLEDO, Ohio – Joe The Plumber is putting down his wrenches and picking up a reporter’s notebook.

The Ohio man who became a household name during the presidential campaign says he is heading to Israel as a war correspondent for the conservative Web site pjtv.com.

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher says he’ll spend 10 days covering the fighting.

He tells WNWO-TV in Toledo that he wants to let Israel’s “‘Average Joes’ share their story.”

Wurzelbacher gained attention during the final weeks of the campaign when he asked Barack Obama about his tax plan.

He later joined Republican John McCain on the campaign trail. At one stop, he agreed with a McCain supporter who asked if he believed a vote for Obama was a vote for the death of Israel.

Your fifteen minutes are LONG past up, man. Please exit stage left.

I sure hope this guy doesn’t start a blog.

Not only is the (in)famous WaPo military correspondent a new fellow at CNAS, but Tom Ricks also now has his own blog called The Best Defense at the new ForeignPolicy.com. Two big announcements on a Monday. Isn’t that a bit much Tom?

Old-school PAOs have heard of the “Ricks Rule.” We’ll see if he creates new rules for the blogosphere.

NORAD Tracks Santa

NORAD, you have out done yourself this year.

I’ve written about the famous NORAD Tracks Santa program — an effort that began accidentally in the 1950s when a department store catalog unwittingly listed the NORAD help desk as the number for Santa. Kids across the country started calling in, and NORAD played along.

Today, the DOD has brought that tradition into the 21st century.

I encourage you to check out their Web site, which is very well done. YouTube videos, a Santa countdown, even an app for iGoogle.

But what really impressed me is that NORAD Tracks Santa is Twittering — and doing it extremely well.

I’ll soon be taking a look at how the services are using Twitter — they all have accounts with this microblogging platform — but I should start now by saying that this Twitter handle should be considered a role model.


The services Twitter with varying degrees of success. Here is what is great about NORAD Tracks Santa Twitter:

  • When I followed them, I got an immediate return follow.
  • The page is fun and playful, like the NORAD Tracks Santa program. The page is managed by “Blitz the Twittering Elf.”
  • The Twitter feed isn’t just promoting NORAD — it is used to engage in conversation. All @noradsanta messages are returned with a personal comment.

And this approach seems to be working. The number of followers has been growing steadily, and NORAD has a strong follow base given that they have a relatively young Twitter account.

To the communications team at NORAD, BRAVO.

Well, it looks like my handicapping for the Pentagon top communication role came up empty (other than the fact that, as I surmised, Morrell will stay on with Sec. Gates as the spokesman).

Politico is reporting the Jennifer Palmieri, a senior Clinton administration official currently serving as senior vice president for communciations at progressive think tank American Progress, is in talks to become the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Puzzle Palace.

I don’t know much about her, other than she graduated from my alma mater. So she’s good in my book. Once an eagle…

How not to communicate

Great shot by Michael Yon. He is one of the best. If you aren’t reading him (and/or contributing to his continued journalistic efforts), you should be.

Dang. Scooped again.

Dang you, David Meerman Scott, for beating me to the punch on what the Air Force is doing in the world of social media.

Not only does he have a better, glossier and more professional blog photo than I do (left), but he also got the first interview that I know of with Capt. Faggard, USAF Public Affairs. I wanted to talk with him, but got beat.

Stupid day job is getting in the way of my unpaid pundit gig. (And for anyone from my company reading this, let me be clear that I’m only kidding.)

Oh well. At least if I was getting scooped it was by him. Damn fine post. Go read it.

And for corporate communicators, I’d definitely get familiar with the chart that the Air Force uses and Scott posts on his blog. It is a great template for judging how and whether or not to engage with bloggers: