Almost...a Killer Workout

Video: Iraq Update
E-mail Harrigan

Oct. 12, 2005 11:50 a.m.

"How was your run?"

This time it was a different questioner in the newsroom, a woman, and I was on my own, without Fumbles.

I figured I'd try it again. Pause.


"How many rounds did you run?"

"They're called laps."

"How many laps did you run?"


"I thought you were supposed to run seven."

"We were."

"What happened?"

"We got shot at."

"I heard that gunfire. They were shooting at you?"

"It was a crossfire." I moved two hands, one hand coming towards the other.

So it was technically five and a half laps. I discussed this with Fumbles when we were lying up against a concrete wall. There was dust and sand on the ground, and because of the sweat it stuck to my legs and shorts and arms. It is common to hear gunfire pop off in Baghdad and you rarely know who is shooting at whom, but this time it was close enough for both of us, and some nearby locals to get down. One second we were two suburban guys jogging along, talking about the office, then the shots, and we both rolled up against a nearby wall without much comment, just like stepping under an awning to get out of the rain. I lay down low, and we heard AK and M16 fire go back and forth for a few seconds. We were in a good spot, lying on the ground up against one wall with a large building behind us.

"In a case like this do you continue the run or do you walk it in?" I said to Fumbles.

"I think you walk it in," he said.

"Let's wait a couple more minutes," I said. An Iraqi on a bike had also taken shelter. Some men from the building were looking out. They smiled at us in the dirt and waved.

"Do we get credit for six laps?" I asked Fumbles. Technically we had only run five and a half.

"I'm good with that," Fumbles said.

Oct. 11, 2005 10:47 am

One step up from "Jesus Christ" on the fear meter is when you shout, "Holy s***!" which I just did a moment ago. Whereas the shout of Jesus Christ allows some time for consideration, Holy s*** is more immediate, more full of fear, no time to run.

An extremely loud explosion just went off right behind me as I was sitting at this desk typing an e-mail. I am on a swivel chair, and the force of the blast caused me to move forward violently in fear, buckling my neck. In the moments afterwards you feel sorry for yourself for being so afraid. I looked to the woman sitting to my right. She was also speechless, wide-eyed, afraid, looking at me, not sure what to do or say. I saw sorrow in her face too. After a moment I moved the curtain to peer out the window to see the usual crowd of running people pointing at rising smoke.

It is always the same story and it never makes any sense. But I am developing now my own sort of Saffir-Simpson scale of danger, based on what I yell out immediately after an explosion. If it is "Jesus Christ" it is not bad, still a moment to consider, to think it over, to say it almost in anger at the fact that an explosion happened so nearby. Unlike "Holy s***," which is when one happens right behind you, catches you by surprise, so you don't know for a second whether you are in real trouble or not. It's a real neck-snapper that rattles you inside and leaves you a little shaky for sometime after.

Last week there was a Jesus Christ gunshot incident, which caused me to run, and while running making the point, "Jesus Christ." Just now there was a Holy s*** bombing, which has me rattled still.

Oct. 8, 2005 9:17 p.m.

If you have two live shots close together it makes no sense to go back in the workspace, also known as "the sub," so you sit with the floodlights on and look out on the mosque. I've looked out on that blue dome from a variety of angles over the past three years, from Saddam's Information Ministry, and from different hotels, an unchanging backdrop to all the events around it.

Sitting out and looking at Baghdad at night around the mosque — it is remarkably quiet, just a few cars moving around a traffic circle and a few pop, pop, pops of a Kalashnikov, sometimes single shots, sometimes a burst. If it wasn't for the shooting, if it wasn't for the fact that you can't go out there without getting killed or kidnapped, it would be a decent place to look out on, like a porch on a lake. But with the pops you can never relax. You just can't ignore it.

A stray cat came by, a kitten, which stared up into the light then ran off, then a ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk — a .50-caliber gun, the big gun on top of some humvees. Those shells go through walls. I once saw a woman try to kill an anti-government fighter who had shot at her from a building. She traced what she thought would be his path down an apartment stairway behind a brick wall — ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, blasting apart the brick. She didn't know whether she got him or not. I don't know who was firing out there tonight. It was out in the night, a long way away.


I have watched your reports everywhere you have been, from Iraq to New Orleans. You bring a whole new slant on the news. You show real emotions, often not shown in other reporters. I appreciate you, and sometimes fear for you. Take care keep your head down in Iraq. We need you Steve!


You're the best. Stay safe.



I’m a veteran of Vietnam, Central America, and Iraq (last year). I’m with you on the “Oh, S***” meter. It’s sometimes tough to explain how one can (more or less) become accustomed to events like those to someone who hasn’t gone through them. Sometimes, laughter even rears its head in the face of it as if to offer reassurance that all is well – in spite of how close a call it was. I don’t miss any of it, and yet I do. But not enough to ever return voluntarily. I’ll just read YOUR accounts and wish you safe travels.



I am still awed everytime I read your first-hand accounts. Simple style all substance. Keep your head down.

Dave and Patti
Johnsburg, Illinois

Love your writing, please stay safe. I'll buy you a beer anytime you come to Baltimore. Semper Fi

Baltimore, MD

Steve: Stay safe. I respect you and what you do. My prayers are with you and each in harms way. One day, in the not so distant future, perhaps Iraq will be a peaceful country and all the images and memories of horror will fade. Everyone should have the freedoms we take for granted in the US.



I cant stop reading your blog, It really bring's to life what is going on over their in Iraq. Dude stay safe and keep reporting those holy s*** times.


I know in the Nam, I used to love to eat hard boiled eggs, especially with a lot of salt, but I always knew, in close corners, I would win the exchange, ha…eat more eggs, you will have the upper hand…great job, love your personal touch..stay safe, bring yourself home in one piece.



We discovered you in Afghanistan ducking and covering and dodging. Your helmet was always a little askew like it was too big and I could tell when the situation was hot by the look in your eyes. We came to admire your humanity and your bravery and said many prayers for your safety.

Selma, Alabama


Thank you for your excellent journalism and especially your coverage of the drug war going on in Nuevo Laredo. While most of Mexico is fairly safe to travel and live, the border areas are especially dangerous. Perhaps ths situation would begin to be alieviated if Americans stopped using illegal drugs!

Guadalaraja, Mexico

Hey Steve,

I look for your blogs every day. I hope that you come home soon. I appreciate your hard, excellent work. Take care.



I've admired your reporting all along, and recently found your blog. You're so honest.

Charlottesville, VA


Great work on the storms here you will be missed. Tell the boys in Iraq we support them 100%


Dear Steve,

Stay safe! We were waiting to see where you would be during the Hurricane Rita coverage - you did a fabulous job covering Hurricane Katrina. We have been watching you since you were covering the war in Afghanistan yelling at your camerman to "get down" during an attack. Thanks for reporting the news "fair and balanced" as always. You are a true professional and an asset to FOX News.

Joe and Lynn C.
Hazleton, PA

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