In Other Words

What They’re Reading: Over There

Pfc. Erik LeDrew is a combat journalist assigned to the U.S. Army’s 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in Iraq. He contributes articles and photos each week for the 1st Cavalry Division’s newspaper, Cav Country. Foreign Policy: Where do you get your news about the outside world? Erik LeDrew: I watch CNN here in the chow ...

Pfc. Erik LeDrew is a combat journalist assigned to the U.S. Army’s 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in Iraq. He contributes articles and photos each week for the 1st Cavalry Division’s newspaper, Cav Country.

Foreign Policy: Where do you get your news about the outside world?

Erik LeDrew: I watch CNN here in the chow hall. And I read things like Time magazine and Newsweek. And, of course, Army Times and Stars and Stripes, when I can get them.

FP: Can you think of a specific instance when what you read didn’t match your experience in Iraq?

EL: In the first week of April, there was the uprising where Moktada al-Sadr had his militia basically revolt against us and it was the worst ground action since the end of combat.… There were eight or nine guys who died that day. I took pictures [at the memorial]. When a soldier dies, you’ve got the M16 and the dog tags hanging on the M16 with their helmet on top. And there is this row of eight or nine of them.… They were human beings. In Time magazine and Newsweek, they are just numbers. "Oh, we’ve had 800 people killed so far in Iraq…" Well, I was there when these guys’ commanders are bawling their eyes out because they couldn’t save their soldiers. You don’t see that.

FP: There is a big debate in the United States right now. The Pentagon has banned the media from showing caskets or being at the airport when the bodies arrive home. How do you feel about that?

EL: Right or wrong, I’m not going to say what I feel about this. I have my personal beliefs.… But I will say that coverage is definitely biased, as far as what the civilian media is covering [about] what happens over here. And a part of me kind of hopes that people back home will read both the Army news that we put out about humanitarian missions and the civilian news regarding deaths. And they will take both of those information outlets and put them together — and between the two find the truth.

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