Category Archives: The Middle East

What up, Peeps?

Friday, 03.21.08 Posted by: Mebz

Greetings from a flooded Missouri. (Send Boat!)  Happy Good Friday and early Easter to everyone!

Hangin’ with my Peeps

Usually, I’m a purest.  Particularly with my Peeps, the yellow have been good enough for years.  But I recently had the new green variety, and I must say they are tasty.  Anyone else have opinions on the expanding color palette of Peeps?  Good? Horribly wrong?  Or am I the only one who cares about these things?

Okay, moving on… Millie put the pressure on me to do a good job today and then proceeded to steal the subject I was going to cover i.e. John in Jerusalem.  So I went hunting through the archives and found a few things to share with you today.

I found CNN’s Election Night Blog from 2004 and it’s amazing how primitive it looks compared to today’s CNN blogs.  John has a few posts on it, however the one I really wanted to share with you is from Karl Penhaul (IMO, one of CNN’s best, yet under-utilized reporters.)  In light of the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war you have to ask yourself, besides the names, how much has changed?

From Karl Penhaul, Video Correspondent for CNN, reporting near Fallujah, Iraq
“One Marine, just about old enough to vote for the first time, shook his head and said to me: “Out here this is politics of the rawest kind.” He was a grunt, not an officer.
He didn’t mean Republican-Democratic party politics or even Bush-Kerry personality politics. Clausewitz (“war is an extension of politics”) or Chairman Mao (“political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”) have written about the kind of politics this Marine was talking about. He didn’t know those names maybe; he certainly hadn’t read the textbook theory. He just sensed it, a world away from the fancy gloss-wrapped, shrink-wrapped vacuum-packed TV debates, party spin doctors and expert opinion polls.
This marine, when he’s ordered, will simply go out and do politics of the rawest kind … kicking in doors, blasting away with an M-16 assault rifle.
The outcome on the extreme edge of his political frontline isn’t about Bush or Kerry. There’s no vote and no recount, just life or death.”
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If you didn’t see AC360’s Shock and Awe special last night, you missed a very fine hour of television.

 

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Moving on.  John tidbits:

Ever wondered what a Canadian thinks of our Election coverage? National Post‘s Jian Ghomeshi likes John’s electronic thingy:  “Whiz-kid King stands at a massive computer map — stretching and seducing it, taming and testing it..”  Thanks for taking me down THAT road, Jian.

And from the JOPLIN GLOBE (Joplin, Mo.- Which is on the OTHER side of the state from me.)  By Mike Pound: “That Wolf guy and some guy with good hair named John King stood in front of a large computer screen and talked. While they talked, John King played with a map of the United States on the large computer screen. I’m not sure exactly what John was doing with map on the large computer screen but apparently it had something to do with the election. Wolf, though, was so impressed with what John was doing with the map on the large computer screen that he told the viewers that they could go to the CNN Web site and be “just like John King for the night.”

I found that sort of creepy.”    Funny.

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Mebz’s Weekly No-Good Irrelevant YouTube Video

Wow, that really was irrelevant.

Weekend Discussion Question: Favorite Holiday for candy?  Easter? Christmas? Valentine’s Day?  Discuss!

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Filed under Election 2008, Foodstuffs, From The Archives, Iraq War, Technology, The Middle East

John King’s Week Abroad

03.20.08 Posted By Millie

Sorry that it has been a slow week here for us at Johnthenewsking…

To be honest, this whole John Mcain trip, while certainly newsworthy, just doesn’t appeal enough to me to cover in this blog. There are plenty of other places to check out information on McCain’s trip abroad… cnn.com of course being one of the best places to check out!

Still, it just doesn’t float my boat to write about it. Therefore, I shall leave you today with some video caps of John interviewing McCain up close.

Happy Thursday and let’s see what Mebz has up her sleeve for tomorrow!!

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Leap Day

Friday, 2.29.08  Posted by: Mebz

It’s Leap Day, People! That means today, like Presidential elections, only comes once every 4 years, good news for 48 year olds everywhere-they finally turn 12! It is also the only day I vaguely associate with frogs.

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CNN has decided to celebrate this time-space anomaly with MORE POLITCAL COVERAGE! WOO0000oooooo… Sorry, I’m living a lie! I can’t keep up the excitement anymore. You would think as a contributor to a blog dedicated to CNN’s former White House correspondent and current Chief National correspondent, that the increased political coverage would be welcomed. And it was- 6 months ago. But I just can’t do it today.

On The Daily Show’s website they have a segment entitled “Remember when we cared about…” and I thought I’d adapt a John King version. So today I give you:

Remember When John Covered: Israel vs. Hezbollah

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Mebz’s Weekly No-Good Irrelevant YouTube Video

Weekend discussion question: Talk amongst yourselves.

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Filed under From The Archives, The Middle East

Short But Sweet

Monday, 11.05.07

Here’s an interesting little find from myspacetv. A soldier named Jimmy had a video camera on hand when John was in Kuwait. There is no indication of exactly when this was taken, or where in Kuwait it was filmed, but in the clip you see John laughing and carrying on with some soldiers.

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The only problem?? It’s only 7 seconds long! Too bad! It would have been much nicer to see the whole thing. I don’t know if Jimmy filmed it himself, or if he found the clip elsewhere, but maybe Millie can pull a rabbit out of her hat and locate the person who made this video and perhaps find out if there is a longer segment available. If I have any updates, I will certainly let you know, but in the meantime, I couldn’t help but share this “short but sweet” find!

Unfortunately I am unable to embed the clip in the blog (it’s a WordPress limitation) but you can check out the link here.

Enjoy!

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“A Pampers Moment”

Wednesday, 9.05.07

In early August, when John sat down for a Q and A with us, he mentioned that he had been in the middle of a “dicey” situation while covering a battle in Khafji, Saudia Arabia, during the 1991 Gulf War.

Here is what John had to say:

Question: What is your proudest moment as a journalist?

John: “It’s hard Millie to pick one moment because I have been so lucky to have a very varied career in terms of the stories I have covered and places visited, and so so so so so lucky to have had the friendship, mentoring and support of wonderful colleagues. If I had to pick one, I guess it would be my assignment to cover the first Gulf War. I was the first AP reporter sent to Saudi Arabia and ended up building a large operation there at a relatively young age. And we tested the tight military coverage rules as much as we could. I snuck into a town called Khafji one night during a battle and was able to provide some exclusive coverage that made the US military angry because they were not telling the truth about US involvement. It was dicey. A pampers moment. NBC interviewed me a day after I got out of there and my mother saw it (and me talking about the gunfire and grenades) and sent me a short note that still makes me cry, telling me my father would be proud of me, now please come home. ”

I decided to do a little internet research about the battle of Khafji. Here is the region on a map. Khafji is right on the border of Saudi Arabia and Iraq:

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Wikipedia has an entry about this battle. Here are some tank and battle pictures:

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Read some of John’s own words about being in the thick of battle, as told to Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post on Friday April 3, 1998:

“John King, a CNN White House correspondent who got two hours’ sleep Wednesday night, says that ‘there’s certainly adrenaline involved in what we do. Some letdown is human’. But, he said, ‘I would hope we aren’t driven that way. We’re supposed to detach our opinions from what we do. We should also detach our emotions.’

Still, King has found himself feeling deflated before. ‘After the gulf war ended, I felt sort of let down, which is a sick thing,’ he said. ‘I found myself wishing I was back in Khafji [near the Saudi Arabian border] getting shot at.’”

Whaaa? John wanted to get shot at? Actually, though I think I know what he means. It’s all about the adrenaline – not the actual prospect of getting hurt. As an adrenaline junkie myself, I can relate. Although I don’t know if I would want to get my kicks that way.

I also came across a thesis written by a guy named Aaron Naparstek of Washington University, who cites John’s role in the Khafji media meltdown. The title of his thesis was “Partners in Conflict: The Media and the Military in Grenada, Panama and the Persian Gulf Wars”. Here is the excerpt that mentions John:

The battle of Khafji also illustrated the extent to which the Pentagon tried to maintain control over imagery and events, and was a turning point in media-military relations of the Gulf War. On January 31, coalition forces retook Khafji from Iraqi forces. During the eighteen hours which pool reporters were not allowed into the town, the world was just going to have to rely on U.S. briefers to find out what was happening in Khafji.

The Associated Press’s John King, however, slipped into a U.S. armored personnel carrier and drove into the city with a group of Marines. For political reasons, the Pentagon wanted to give the impression that the battle for Khafji was fought and easily won by their Arab coalition partners with little help from the U.S.. King and other reporters who eventually made it into Khafji were stunned to hear General Shwarzkopf and other military briefers in Riyadh telling the world that Saudi and Qatari forces had successfully retaken the town even as the battle raged around them. Listening to the radio as Shwarzkopf described how U.S. forces did not take part in the liberation, King saw one U.S. officer point to an exhausted Marine who had just escaped from the town minutes earlier carrying with him a charred Iraqi AK-47 machine gun and say, ‘Tell him that.’

The Khafji incident laid bare the disturbing willingness of the U.S. to alter the facts to make sure that military goals coincided with political ones. The discrepancies between the official story and journalists’ versions that came out of Khafji severely hurt the credibility of the coalition. Reporters’ fears that military briefings were telling them partial or manipulated truths were confirmed in Khafji”

Time Magazine published an article dated Monday, Feb. 18, 1991 which also mentioned John:

“Though pool reporters were stationed with the 1st U.S. Marine Division outside the Saudi city, they were not allowed into the town until 18 hours after fighting started between Iraqi armor and coalition forces. Early accounts of the battle came mostly from reporters operating on their own.

One of them, John King of the Associated Press, sneaked into the city on the first night of fighting and watched as Arab troops tried to retake the town. ‘The pools did not get an accurate view (of the battle) because they didn’t see it,’ says King. ‘They wrote that the Saudi and Qatari liberated the city, but they had no realistic view of how long it took, what happened or how many Iraqis were in there.’

The best footage of the battle came from two French TV crews and a team from Britain’s Visnews, which were in Khafji well before U.S. pool cameramen. (Little of this was seen on American TV.)”

What I couldn’t find in my research were any pictures or videos of John at the time. That surely would have been interesting to see. I wonder if his old NBC interview is still around aomwhere?

It was a pampers moment indeed.

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Battlefield Breakdown Re “cap”

Sunday, 08.12.07

Hi everyone! Sorry it has been a few days since I lasted posted, but to be honest with you I had a nasty spell of Blogger’s Block again.

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I hate it when that happens!

Actually, on Friday I was going to screencap some pictures of a July 2006 video in which John tests a General Motors hydrogen vehicle prototype, but for some reason the caps would not copy to files correctly. Alas, no screencaps. But you can still check out the video here. It will be interesting to see if GM will actually be marketing these cars soon. However, from the piece we learn that may be a way off, due to ongoing testing as well as cost and production factors.

I nonetheless wanted to post some John King pictures today, so I decided to cap some stills from his recent Battlefield Breakdown special aired in early June. (You can read the entire transcript of the program here.)

Sorry for the quality of the pictures, I was capping them from a video posted on YouTube. (Note:  johnthenewsking not share the opinion of the guy who posted this video) I am not tech-savy enough to cap directly from TiVo – heck, I don’t even have TiVo – but even if I did, I still would not know how to do it (cap).

Anywho, here are some shots from “Battlefield Breakdown”:

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A truly gripping part of the piece to me was when John went riding with the convoy:

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I was at first frightened for him and the men he was profiling, but then the reality sunk in that these brave men and women have to do it on a daily basis — it was not just a photo op for a journalist… the possibility of them getting hit by a roadside bomb was all too painfully real. I couldn’t get out of my head the audio of the soliders talking about their blood type as they were driving along. Thank goodness those soliders and John made it safe, but it was scary to think of the danger lurking around every corner. As John said, it could be something as inconspicuous as a pile of trash.

After his well-deserved break, I am looking forward to seeing John again on TV soon!

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