Fox News Channel confirmed this evening that reporter Geraldo Rivera is “under investigation” by the Pentagon for allegedly compromising military security by revealing information about troop movement in a broadcast report.
Despite comments today from a Pentagon spokesman that Rivera was being “removed from Iraq,” Rivera angrily denied reports that he was being booted from the country, blaming the “lie” on cable news competitor MSNBC.
Shepard Smith also mentioned on his show, “The Fox Report,” that other news outlets reported Rivera had been expelled from Iraq.
“He was not,” Smith said, noting that Rivera remains on assignment with the 101st Airborne Division. The anchor said Geraldo had drawn a map in the sand that showed viewers troop locations, action that got the attention of the Pentagon.
“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 this morning. “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.”
Rivera addressed the issue in a report early this afternoon.
“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, who is not officially “embedded” with the division, said he intends to march into Baghdad alongside the soldiers of the 101st Airborne. It remains to be seen, however, what the Pentagon investigation will conclude.
Last week, reporter Phil Smucker with the Christian Science Monitor was expelled from Iraq after U.S. forces accused him of being too specific about troop locations in a report.