Pentagon Nominee Promises Embed Policy Review to Prevent ‘Ratings’

By: Joe Strupp

The Pentagon’s likely new public affairs chief said Thursday he would review Defense Department rules regarding journalist embeds to make sure they are not being denied access based on the “tenor of their reporting,” Stars and Stripes reported.

Douglas Wilson, who is expected to be confirmed as the new assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that he was opposed to rating reporters as “friendly” or “negative” when considering embed requests.

In written testimony presented before his nomination hearing, Wilson went even further, stating, “In my view, we should never be a party to efforts to place so-called ‘friendly reporters’ into embeds while blocking so-called ‘unfriendly reporters’,” Stars and Stripes reported.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked Wilson about the issue and cited Stars and Stripes stories that revealed the Defense Department’s contract with the Rendon Group, a Washington, D.C. firm that had been hired to review journalists’ embed credentials and was grading their past work as “positive,” “negative” or “neutral.”

Wilson agreed to Levin’s request to review the issue and ensure that no such profiling or editorial interference is still happening.

“[The department] has a long history of enabling news media representatives of all kinds – print, photo, TV and radio – to view the department’s operations first-hand, regardless of any perception that a particular reporter or his or her news product was ‘supportive’ or ‘non-supportive’ on a given military issue,” Wilson wrote. “If confirmed, I fully intend to continue in this tradition.”

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