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Despite a Reuters report quoting a Pentagon spokesman as claiming Fox News Channel correspondent Geraldo Rivera will be removed from Iraq, Rivera is reporting today from deep inside Iraq and insisting his ouster is a vicious rumor being spread by cable news competitor MSNBC.
The Pentagon says Rivera is being disciplined after reportedly divulging information about coalition troop movement in the war.
“He was with a military unit in the field and the commander felt that he had compromised operational information by reporting the position and movements of troops,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told Reuters. “The commander thought it best to get the reporter out of his battle space, and we understand he is being removed from Iraq.”
Whitman later amended his remarks to Reuters, saying Fox News itself had agreed to remove Rivera. His previous comments suggested the military was officially expelling the reporter.
“I would say that he is going to be leaving Iraq,” added Whitman. “Fox has talked to us and they have indicated to us that they are going to remove him from the area of operations.”
Despite the Pentagon pronouncement, Rivera reported early this afternoon from his position among the U.S. 101st Airborne Division after the soldiers had taken control of the headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party south of Baghdad.
“It sounds like some rats at my former network, NBC, are spreading some lies about me,” Rivera told Fox anchor David Asman.
“They can’t compete fair and square on the battlefield, so they try to stab me in the back. It’s not the first time.”
Continued Rivera, “I just hear that – that someone said I had been kicked out of the country. In fact, I am further inside the country than I have every been.”
Rivera then took aim at cable news network MSNBC, which trails in the ratings game as a distant third behind No. 1 Fox and No. 2 CNN, and which has come under fire for NBC reporter Peter Arnett’s controversial interview with Iraqi TV. Arnett subsequently has been fired.
“MSNBC is so pathetic a cable news network that they have to do whatever they can to attract attention, but you can rest assured that anything they are saying is a pack of lies,” Rivera said on camera.
Other news reports claim it was CNN that first reported the military was expelling Geraldo.
Rivera said he intends to march into Baghdad alongside the soldiers of the 101st Airborne.
According to the Reuters report, Whitman said Rivera was not officially “embedded” with the division.
A Fox spokesman told Reuters: “All I can tell you is that [Rivera’s] still reporting from Iraq.”