previous post next post  

I likes me some Michael Yon

He went in early, on his own (and subscriber's, in a sense) dime, and took with him a greater understanding of what he was seeing and who he was walking with that informed his reporting on the war in ways that the MSM reporters didn't/wouldn't/couldn't.

To me he's at his best when he's covering the troops, doing it the Ernie Pyle way.  But that's my bias - if I had it in me to do what Mike does, I'd be doing the units, the grunts, the infantillery, the tankers-who-are-dragoons.  The kids that drive the trucks along the IED and ambush-beset MSRs.  The Medics, god love them.

And there's no doubt that in the early days, when the Army was doing long-war OJT in a microscope world, that there were lots of issues about handling the press in all its forms and associated vainglory.  And that it was really really really frustrating when you were a shoestring operation like Yon.

Things are different now, however.  Not perfect, and they never will be - the nature of the beast is that there will always be tension between the press and government.  If there isn't, then it isn't a free press, it's a Public Affairs organ of the government.

Getting tossed from an embed once due to conflict, especially early on, when things were immature (in all senses of the word) everywhere?  Gottit.  I'm with ya.

Twice?  Okay - there's that tension thing again. 

Three?  Now four?  Calling out the CG on Facebook?

You have to start to wonder if the problem goes a little beyond the normal tension of things.  Especially when there are others, who are also independents, who also write from arms length regarding the leadership, who don't have these problems.  Roggio, Totten, Lubin, West, et.al..

But one thing I'm sure of - when the focus of the story becomes the journalist, then the focus of the story has been lost, and the story suffers.  The real story.  The one, that in the end, matters most.

The grunts.  The gun dogs.  The tankless-DATs.  The truck drivers.  The Operators.  The 27-inch zipper folk. The Medics, god love them.  Theirs is the story not being told.  The story of the generals and politicians and diplomats will be told over and over and over again, ad nauseum.

And while getting into squabbles with the gatekeepers of the leadership may seem all Saint George, sometimes it's more Don Quixote... and the story gets lost.

Bring back Ernie Pyle.

I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Chuck Z
Uncle Jimbo
Greyhawk I and Greyhawk II 
Kanani Fong
You Served (Marcus)
 Laughing Wolf
Commander Salamander
Greta

1 Trackbacks

TrackBack this entry at http://www.thedonovan.com/cgi-bin/mt41/mt-tb.fcgi/11876

I’ve been a Micheal Yon supporter. I’ve helped raise money for his embeds over-sea’s. I’ve had him linked here and at my other websites. I’ve endorsed him to people looking to get a ground level view of the wars in Iraq an... Read More

20 Comments

Michael you have done so much, and sometimes it is just time to stand down and let others carry the torch.
I myself face that, you get so emotionally embedded, you lose site of why you were there to start. 
You are very very loved. Come home, let's get your pictures and stories complied into the history books. Let's make sure no one forgets that the brave men and women who stand for freedom,  
FREED not one but 2 countries. 
Love
Patti Patton-Bader
ps Thank you for your courage in this post all!
 
Thank you Patti. You are without a doubt, an Angel.
 
I have enormously enjoyed his ground-level reporting and photography.  I had wished it was more mainstream.

I think he's quite within his rights and even duty to question the character of this man but the method is all wrong.  It would have to be very well backed up and relevant but all I got was a sense of instability, frustration and anger, possibly hubris too.

It is said a good friend learns and comes to know the music of your life.  Then they do sing it to remind you when you forget.  These posts are all trying to help you remember.  Refocus on why you originally did it.

 
The problem is that Michael Yon seems to have started believing his own press about how significant his reporting is.  Much as I like his perspectives, like any other reporter he needs the permission of the combatant commnder in order to do his job.  And if you keep making an ass of yourself, eventually you'll wear out your welcome.

Much as it dislikes me to apply it to Michael Yon, this is a perfect example of the old dictum that  stupidity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
 
There is a wisdom in the first comment or even a *great life truth*, Thank you, for reminding us. *There is a time to stand up, but equally so, there is an appointed time to step down.* *There is a time to keep things secret, but equally so, there is an appointed time to reveal that which was secret for all to see.* What is that saying? "Judge not, lest you be judged!"  When you think you know, it is then that you are most vulnerable.
 
Mike Yon is a great journalist, and friend to the American fighting man and woman.

Everyone makes mistakes, and Mike is no exception.

I will give him a pass on his comments (not actually a dispute, but difference of opinion on what is correct approach) with McChrystal.  It may be impolitic, and may well be wrong, but Mike calls them like he sees them.  

Still, he has darn sure EARNED some down time to R&R and write and regain his usually spot on perspective.
 
Here’s Michael Yon’s response to the “kind supportive and respectful attempt” at an intervention.

It’s posted on his Facebook page (where else) in response to the love letter.. errr “Defense of Michael Yon – An Open Letter to Milbloggers” which he also posted on his Facebook page.


The Captain’s Journal » In Defense of Michael Yon: An Open Letter to Milbloggers
http://www.captainsjournal.com

You can read Hershel’s piece attacking the milblog community in its entirety but here’s Yon’s response:

Michael Yon

Herschel Smith sent a kind email.

Thank you, Herschel,

Bottom line questions: How many milbloggers who were not on active duty (hence sent to the war as a troop) have spent more than a year in the wars? I know of zero. Does one exist? The milblogging community is largely a hurricane of hot air.

There are some …good and responsible writers working milblogs but most of them are LESS ACCURATE than the MSM they oppose.

Please name the top five milblogs — and one person from each — who has spent a year (less than 15% of the war) as a civilian journalist/writer in Iraq/Afghanistan.

Start with http://www.longwarjournal.org/ and Blackfive.

People who are seriously tracking the war seriously don’t track these guys.

Michael Yon
 
Feel free to give Yon a pass John, but I won't.  It s not just about what he wrote with regards to McChrystal its the LIES he fabricated about Canadian BG Menard in March, and the awful things he said about Canadian troops. It was at that time that it became clear to many people- but not the milblog community - that Yon had lost it completely.

Matt over at B5 hated me for exposing all Yon's lies insisting that this intervention was done out of love and respect for Mike, , but I told him that Yon would respond as he did above, because Yon has always seen himself to be light years more important and superior to 'milbloggers' .

He doesn't care. Yon is always right.  Everyone else is always wrong---unless they agree with Mike
 
Yon wrote his comment about McChrystal because he got fired from his embed by McChrystal.
And he got fired because he FABRICATED lies which he continues to perpetuate about BG Menard, ( not the  rifle incident - but the'Bridge' incident), insulted, denigrated and lied about Canadian troops, and broke several embed rules----YET AGAIN.

For more background - feel free to read my latest post on my website,and the four previous posts I wrote that all start with 'Michael Yon " in the title.




 
Unfortunately for Yon's meme... people who are seriously tracking the war aren't tracking him, either.  That doesn't mean he doesn't have readers.  Or that he doesn't have an impact because of who some of his readers are.  But a lot of the people I think he thinks he's reaching... not so much.

And he totally missed the point, which was predicted.

He's not covering the war, either, in a meaningful way any more.

He's pursuing his grudges.

And then, oddly enough, he chickenhawks us.  I can't have an opinion, because I wasn't there this time, in *his* war.  Doesn't matter how many others I might have been in on.

A parallel response would be, "You can't critique a movie unless you've made one."  Which is, of course, what many critically panned directors say.

Not that Mike is going to care, but there are milbloggers out there who agree with those of us who posted.  Some of them are too busy training the Afghan Army or training the people who are training the Afghan Army, actively fighting in both theaters, or who sit in operations centers who have voiced support. 

Just as there are journalists, who meet Mike's definition in the comment above, who agree, in varying degrees.

Then there's the fat retirees like me who have spent the time patiently, and impatiently, building the relationships and thereby gaining some credibility for small j journalists with the leadership, an on-going and easily damaged relationship where one aw shit wipes away the attaboys.

Chickenhawked. Irony abounds.
 
I guess all MilBloggers are now required to serve as a embed in order to qualify as MilBloggers, despite previous service, criteria, length of service, branch or prior deployments.

Sounds a lot like the last presidential campaign heh

As you said, sir, Irony abounds.

All said and told I have enjoyed his writings, but as a former silent professional he should know enough to stay silent in order to gather intellgience. Or as one of my peers once told me "Play stupid, you surprise people more when you kill them." 

I doubt he'll see the forest for the tree's. i strongly think he may have gotten a bad case of self importance. He may have forgotten why he's there besides to fulfill a need to return to where he was once a member. I can understand that drive.

But it doesn't forgive kicking the over the hive. Repeatedly.


 
And Dangergirl - just to make it clear, which it might not be to someone who isn't a regular - John of Argghhh! and John (Not-The-Armorer)  are two different folks.

I'm prettier and have more hair.  Well, I have a lot more belly, too.
 
He's pursuing his grudges.

Aiyup.
I was shocked when I read his name-calling FB posts about the Admiral and the General, although I'm really not a fan of Gen. McChrystal.  His embed removal became an "all about me" campaign instead of an 'all about the troops" campaign, which is how/why he started to gain the respect and attention of both milbloggers and the MSM.  Notice the MSM isn't covering his removal?  They've stepped away from the golden boy too.

Honestly, I don't know why his other embeds were cancelled, but I do know that over the past year his personal slant (as in "it's all about me" slant) has been disappointing and borish.  I hope he takes your advise and goes back to doing what he USED to do best:  providing those who want to know unbiased reporting from the front.

I feel like I'm watching a star in the heavens crash through the atmosphere as a burning ball of gas and rock, waiting for it to implode.  I don't like that picture, and only Yon can turn it around.
 
The only thing I want to say is this, I would have liked to have seen a chat between GEN Stanley McChrystal and one of his Rangers, CPL Pat Tillman on this subject. This 'truth-telling' would be without limits. In all ways this will not just be an imaginary event, but a real one. There will be other actors in the role of Pat Tillman.

R.i.P. CPL Pat Tillman, US Army, Ranger
 
Damn,

Haven't posted here in years, but here goes,

Before I got myself 86'd, I used to jump shark on anyone who posted any negs or pointed a finger at W for his prosecution of OIF, I would throw flame at the slightest hint of nay sayin and after awhile John, you would put my posts in the "Check Aim" corner for a time-out.  Pretty soon it was a full body scan with additional cavity search and that was it, I quit posting.

I started tracking Mr. Yon in 05, and have read all his work with a growing admiration since then because his ground level reporting was simply THE BEST at  giving a true sense of the troops doing the daily heavy lifting day in and day out and having that kind of perspective was critical for me since my #1 would end up doing 4 trips to the sand box so to speak. To be honest, I have not read his dust-ups on FB, I do have his book and all his dispatches and would put that body of fine work up against anything produced by ANYBODY during OIF.  I'm sure if the mil-blogs dug a little deeper they would find some things are amiss and that it's not all about Michael Yon.
  
 
We probably agree more than disagree on this Richard.  I agree that Yon's early work and his dispatches, etc, and the book are generally good stuff.

I wish he'd go back to that, rather than Quixotically go after all the senior leaders who don't do what he believes he would do if he were king.

And then get upset when, gee, he doesn't have the access he once had, or believes he should have... because he is The Yon.

That's the point.  He's the story, which means he's missing the story.  That's what we want him to come back to.

We don't want him to quit writing.  We want him to regain his focus on what he does best.

Which, sadly, to many of us who are scattered throughout the inside and the outside, is not what he's doing now.

Just pissing off general officers because they don't treat you  like you think you should be treated isn't the way to success.

And, as noted, there is backstory to this that no one really wants to bring into the open.

We're not trying to destroy Mike.  But many of us have our own inside sources of data, and or personal experiences, that lead us to be concerned about where he's headed.
In other words, we have done the digging, or been there (the been there is obviously not me) and we are concerned.
That said, welcome back. The Rulez are still the Rulez, but things are quieter hereabouts these days.
 
Armorer. It is always difficult in situations like this one. No General or Journalist believes he gets the respect he truly deserves. My question to both of these men,  "Are you sure you really want it?"  Isn't this equally true for some mouthy commenters, like myself? You so accurately write,  "*THE RULES*, not your 'Rulez'  are still *THE RULES*!" I will always try to comply with your Rulez, out of respect to you!

Let's talk about your post. I hear people talking about going back to a 'historical Mike Yon', is that realistically possible? Is it possible your view of "normal" is *gone*? The greater battle will be within yourselves, victory will be when you can let let it go.

As I read your last paragraph, you write, "We're not trying to destroy Mike." I firmly believe that is your intent, but I'm not no sure that will be your end result.. 'Been there, done that', for me, this is not about inside sources of information, it is my life. As I see you and your "inside sources", you'll listen and then do an extensive verification process, before you even consider sharing the counsel. Even then, you'll still have questions. Good grief, you do this already, but this is the reason I read your writings.

 
Grumpy - if Mike goes up in a puff of smoke, it will be because he doused his flag in gasoline, wrapped himself in it, and lit a cigar.

Not what we did.
 
"A parallel response would be, "You can't critique a movie unless you've made one." Which is, of course, what many critically panned directors say."

A better parallel response would be to say that Yon hasn't commanded a division, so what's he going on about how McChrystal is running a theater.

As a joke analogy, I got knocked out of here by the hurry and wait nature of the comment system. Couldn't stand that machine at all.

A combination of factors seem to be getting to him. He hasn't lost it in the sense that his personality has changed. But a former SF guy who used to keep his mouth zipped tight on OPSEC, is now coming out into the open like some guy with a crack addicted monkey in the driver's seat, calls into question whose judgement can't be trusted any more.

If Yon truly believes he is in a war, then he shouldn't let that monkey drive his bus. There's no point in imagining past wrongs as current/future wrongs, future possible wrongs as current life threats, or whatever it is the emotional monkey tells us is going on. Because it ain't going on.


 
Armorer, The last I read, Yon got himself an attorney. I figure let him earn his own pay. I think it's time for me to just let this go. Are there concerns? Of course, but I can't change things. As my Dad used to say, "There are times like this one, when you just take off like one *BIG ASS BIRD.*" No, I'm not leaving the site, but I AM leaving this constipated subject. - Grumpy
 
 
Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire editorialof yours and it was quite good but since I'm more of a visual beginner,I found that to be more helpful well let me know how it turns out