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9 Jul, 2010 23:33

Media war continues over Rolling Stone exposé

A Rolling Stone article containing quotes from US Army troops and General McChrystal in Afghanistan has lead to a continued debate in the media over war journalism.

The article’s author, Michael Hastings, claimed there were no ground rules and that all of the information in his article was on the record. However other war journalists have come out saying that it is nearly impossible to believe there were no ground rules.

I talked to several sources who were either on that trip or had been briefed on what happened on the trip and they all said that it was completely untrue that there were no ground rules,” said Sean D. Naylor, senior writer for the Army Times.

Naylor explained that at different times the conversation was to be either on the record, off the record or on background.

Hastings and his editor have, at time, over the last couple of weeks have said that because Hastings had his notebook out or a recorder out that folks in the room should have assumed that it was on the record. My sources have repeatedly said that is a ludicrous argument and that just because somebody is taking notes that doesn’t mean anything about what the ground rules at that particular moment,” said Naylor.

At their senior level, McChrystal and his staff should have been more aware of the situation and should have paid closer attention to what they said around a newly arrived reporter, said Naylor.

Naylor argued that Rolling Stone should not have published the story if there were ground rules that were broken.

You have to keep your word,” he said.

Jamie McIntyre, former CNN Pentagon correspondent, says Hastings has nothing to do with the sack of the commander.

“It wasn’t Michael Hastings who brought down General McChrystal, it was General McChrystal and the atmosphere that he allowed in his command that brought him down. It was what he did, not the reporting of it,” says Jamie McIntyre.