Pentagon Ends Controversial Reviews of Embedded Reporters

By: Joe Strupp Less than a week after Stars and Stripes revealed the Pentagon was reviewing past work by embedded journalists -- rating some of their reporting as "positive" or "negative," the program has been stopped, the newspaper reported Monday.

A story today revealed that the U.S. military planned to end its contract with The Rendon Group, which had been conducting the reviews of media embedded in Afghanistan.

"The announcement follows a week of revelations by Stars and Stripes in which military public affairs officers who served in Afghanistan said that as recently as 2008 they had used reporter profiles compiled by The Rendon Group," the story added. The newspaper first reported on the program Aug. 24.

The Pentagon had initially denied it was conducting such reviews, but high-ranking officials later admitted they had been used in overall reviews of embeds. Stars and Stripes eventually found that at least two journalists had been denied embed slots, at least in part, because of information found during their reviews.

"The decision to terminate the Rendon contract was mine and mine alone. As the senior U.S. communicator in Afghanistan, it was clear that the issue of Rendon's support to US forces in Afghanistan had become a distraction from our main mission," Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, told Stars and Stripes in an e-mail Sunday.

"I have been here since early June and at no time has anyone who worked for me ever conducted themselves in a manner as your newspaper alleged. I cannot and will not speculate on the past, although I have found no systemic issues with fairness or equity in the way U.S. forces have run their media embed program."

The entire story is here.


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