Rivera leaves for Kuwait after flap

April 02, 2003|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN TELEVISION WRITER

Fox News Channel yesterday agreed to sideline Geraldo Rivera, its senior war correspondent, after U.S. military officials said he compromised the security of troops in Iraq.

In a statement, the network said that Rivera had "volunteered to return to Kuwait," though Pentagon officials had insisted on his departure from Iraq. Rivera had arrived late last week to accompany the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division's push toward Baghdad.

In reports that appeared on Fox News late Sunday and early Monday, Rivera sketched maps in the sand of that unit's activity, drawing the ire of U.S. commanding officers.

Rivera was not traveling formally as an "embed" - a journalist accompanying specific U.S. units for a long period. "He was given a temporary, short-term arrangement that was further shortened by his actions," said Marine Lt. Col. Dave Lapan, a military spokesman.

Fox News officials, including network chief Roger Ailes, lobbied Victoria Clarke and Bryan Whitman, the Pentagon public affairs officials who oversee relations with war reporters. By late afternoon, Fox released a statement acknowledging "concerns that he may have inadvertently violated the rules governing embedded journalists.

"Fox News believes that Geraldo did not knowingly disregard the rules of embedment."

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