I’ve only ever had one run in with the media, back when I was the operations officer of the USS Constellation in 2003. Prior to Phase III kinetic operations in OIF, a NYT reporter button-holed me in the foc’s'l after a PAO tour and asked if we had counter-terrorist tactics, techniques and procedures to prevent being attacked while in port in Sharjah, UAE. “Of course,” I answered (this was after the USS Cole bombing).
“What are they?” he asked.
It seemed so much like a Saturday Night Live skit that I almost laughed in his face, before composing myself and answering, “That’s classified. Revealing our TTPs could create an exploitable vulnerability for the enemy.”
He wasn’t happy, and didn’t try to hide the fact. Dude had a job to do, and undoubtedly PAO pictures of anchor chains and windlasses doesn’t sell papers. But I’ve been yelled at by better men.
This, on the other hand, is something else entirely:
US Navy Commander Jeffrey D. Gordon has filed a sexual harassment complaint against the Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg.
FishbowlDC obtained a copy of the July 22, 2009 letter addressed to Miami Herald Senior VP and Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal. In the complaint, Gordon calls for a “thorough investigation” to put an end to Rosenberg’s “appalling behavior” that includes comments about the Commander’s sexual orientation.
The complaint outlines examples of Rosenberg’s alleged “abusive and degrading, comments of an explicitly sexual nature.”
Go to the link to read more if you’d like, her language doesn’t fit on a PG-13 rated blog.
Rosenberg apparently has a reputation as an “aggressive” reporter, and CDR Gordon has had the no doubt thankless task of running the GTMO beat for the last four years. Some friction is probably inevitable as the PA force attempts to put the detention center in the best possible light, while journalists keep prying for the keys to the top secret abbatoir, wherein detainees are slowly roasted in the depths of a giant Slor. That just has to be around there. Somewhere.
The case has broken the signal-to-noise ratio at the WaPo as well, with a mostly straightforward “he said/she said” article by Howard Kurtz that nevertheless ends strangely:
Gordon, a career officer who joined the secretary’s office under Donald Rumsfeld in 2005, is retiring early next year, an exit date that may help explain the unusually harsh nature of his complaint against a journalist.
Now, maybe that makes sense to a seasoned journalist, but to me it’s a jarring non sequitur. It’s obviously placed in the closer to impugn Gordon’s motive, but what is that supposed to even mean? PAOs are trained to work with pushy people, but Gordon’s complaint against the journalist has less to do with any retirement date than the nature of Rosenberg’s insufferable bullying and unprofessional behavior.
Combined with the tautly framed face shot accompanying the Post’s article – always a good way to make a subject look bad – it smacks of circling the wagons more than reporting the news.