Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Today’s quote: A lesson in how to handle the military-media relationship

While reading the memoirs of Maj. Gen. Sir Francis de Guingand, chief of staff to that jerk Montgomery during World War II, I was struck by this aside as he recounted one of his monthly dinners with British war correspondents: As always, I was perfectly frank with them. It is no use being anything else ...

military photo
military photo
military photo

While reading the memoirs of Maj. Gen. Sir Francis de Guingand, chief of staff to that jerk Montgomery during World War II, I was struck by this aside as he recounted one of his monthly dinners with British war correspondents:

As always, I was perfectly frank with them. It is no use being anything else with intelligent war correspondents -- a fact often forgotten by some commanders."

At the dinner in question, in late 1944, he discussed with them the growing friction between Montgomery and the senior American generals, Eisenhower and Bradley. So much for the U.S. military theory that you should never go off the record.

While reading the memoirs of Maj. Gen. Sir Francis de Guingand, chief of staff to that jerk Montgomery during World War II, I was struck by this aside as he recounted one of his monthly dinners with British war correspondents:

As always, I was perfectly frank with them. It is no use being anything else with intelligent war correspondents — a fact often forgotten by some commanders."

At the dinner in question, in late 1944, he discussed with them the growing friction between Montgomery and the senior American generals, Eisenhower and Bradley. So much for the U.S. military theory that you should never go off the record.

Speaking of the media and the military, take a look at Reach 364’s interview from Hell. He’s a U.S. Air Force pilot who decided that, in the interest of world peace, he should go to Jordan and study Arabic and the Middle East. He was paid for his interest with a hellish TV interview in which he was asked, among other things, whether he would shoot a Jordanian classmate.   

UPDATE: Reach 364 writes in to clarify, "I DID NOT consent to do a TV interview. This interrogation came during an ordinary classroom discussion, when the teacher decided it would be a good idea to do a practice interview. This was ‘practice’ for a TV show he wanted me to participate in, but I of course declined."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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