'B Block' War

July 23, 2004 
New York

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I was sitting in Carl Glogg's truck outside the United Nations. Glogg is a cameraman for Geraldo, and likes to go to hotspots. He had satellite radio on, so we were listening to FOX in between liveshots at the U.N. FOX News Military Analyst Col. Oliver North came on from Ramadi, Iraq. A roadside bomb had gone off right next to their vehicle and the Marines they were traveling with got into a major firefight, killing 25 of the attackers. Col. North was with FOX cameraman Mal James. He tossed to a report saying the explosion happened right next to Mal's vehicle. Then, sitting in the Ford, Glogg and I heard about 20 seconds of explosions. After the initial blast you could hear small arms fire, then the big, full sound of the .50-caliber guns opening up from the Bradley Fighting Vehicles. It was strange to be sitting there in New York, listening to it on the radio, with a chicken salad wrap and a "Real T" Ice tea on my lap. I recognized the clear boom of the .50-cals, but kept it to myself. Glogg and I were both smiling.

"That's the .50's opening up from the Bradleys," Glogg said. It was good to be sitting there with a guy who knew that. I nodded.

"Mal is really in the s...," I said, smiling. We were both grinning broadly, listening to the explosions. Mal James had gotten exactly what he wanted. When I was with him in Pakistan a couple of months ago, he had talked with fervor about how he wanted to go to Iraq, how he wanted to get into the fight. And now he had gotten exactly what he wanted. The roadside bomb, which had exploded right next to his vehicle, was an opportunity. He had been prepared, ready, and had gotten it all on tape. At least, I bet he had gotten it all, because all we could do was hear it. [Ramadi video!]

I checked myself. Did I feel bad not to be there? No. Not this time. The report was over now. Did the ordinary listener know what had happened, why this was important, what Mal had gone through? Or was it a blip on the news radar that flashed by? Did that even matter?  When you are in such an event, it sometimes seems to you, from inside the fight, like the entire world stops to focus on it and everyone pays attention. If you have such powerful video, you want to make the most of it, every hour, so everyone is watching it and talking about it. The ability to do that depends on the reporter, but it also can depend on other news events that can crowd you out, or if the event seems to be repetitive or old hat, it can be dismissed. There is nothing worse than putting your life on the line for a story that does not get the play it deserves. A giant Australian cameraman said it this way in Chechnya:

"I don't want to die in a B-block war."

E-mails to Steve

Dear Steve,

I know you don’t know us (your fans), but through your blogs we feel like we know you a little.  You are doing all of us a great service and the blogs help to bring it down to a personal level.  Please keep up the good work.

Lee Anne [Katy, Texas]

Dear Steve:

My husband (Steve) and I love when you come on the news to report.  We both shout out, "Shteve" as an endearment.*  (There are 3 friends all named Steve here that have adopted that pronunciation for each other.)  Anyway, we love your reports and absolutely delight in seeing you.  But we missed last Saturday night's special.  Is there going to be a re-airing?
*Next time you start rolling tape, remember there are two 50 year olds in Charlotte, NC calling out to the TV, "SHTEVE, Shteve's on."

Dear Mr. Harrigan,

Your article "Sounds of Baghdad" was the first article to make me realize that reporters such as yourself are giving up a great deal in order to inform the American people. I am what people call a military brat; born and raised in army tradition.  I have many friends stationed in Iraq as well as my two oldest brothers who have been there since January.  In a way, you are just like a soldier; your life and the lives of your crew are in constant danger, yet you are doing your duty for your country.  Thank you so much for doing your part and God bless.


Jessica [Germany]

Just wanted to drop a note note to say I truly respect your courage and ability to get at the truth with bullets and bombs flying around you. Look forward to seeing more of your reports. Glad you're home and safe for now.
— Alan

Hey there,

Just have been wondering why there's no new blog lately. We miss you, and hope that you are resting and recuperating and rejuvenating.

— Alison [North Carolina]

Mr. Harrigan,

I really enjoy and appreciate your reporting. You are a brave reporter who is doing a great service to all of us who are worried about conditions in the Middle East. Your blog is now required reading. Keep up the good work and stay safe, we look forward to hearing from you soon.

— George [Evanston, IL]

Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.