Update: Following the publication of this post, the commander of the 3rd Battalion 6th Marines, who operates out of Camp Hill, responded to my original inquiries. His reply in full is as follows:
3/6 had a successful visit with Mr. Rivera. At no time did he or this command ever put Marines or Sailors of the Battalion out of their sleeping quarters in order for him to have the comforts of air condition. He was billeted with the other embedded media in one of our newly-constructed Alaska Shelters designated as transient quarters. I am happy to discuss with the individual claiming otherwise, if from this command. Respectfully, LtCol Christmas
In April 2010, Geraldo Rivera and his crew descended on Afghanistan and embedded with troops to report on their brave efforts.
According to one Marine's wife, there was an important aspect missing from his reports. During at least one camp visit, he displaced several troops from their air-conditioned tents in order that he could sleep in comfort. The troops, she said, were relegated to sleeping outside on the ground.
She was understandably outraged and attempted to get some answers from Fox News and Geraldo. On April 16th, she sent the following letter to everyone she could think of at Fox News.
Subject: Appalled by reporter's actions
Date: Friday, April 16, 2010, 10:29 AM
Dear Fox News,
I am appalled at the action Geraldo has taken. While visiting Camp Hill in Afghanistan, many Marines were kicked out of their tent in order for Geraldo to sleep in an A/C shelter. My husband fights for his country and leaves his family for many months so this country is safer. What little bit of civilization these brave men and women have, was taken away. The Marines had to sleep on the ground with no shelter in order for Geraldo to sleep in comfort. I am outraged because these Marines are in a remote part of Afghanistan with heavy fire and fight hard every day to stay alive, but Geraldo felt it was necessary to take away the little bit of comfort these Marines relied on.
We , as Americans, should make every effort to tell the stories of Marines and other military forces. When a person leaves their family and friends to go to a combat zone, stress and worry are predominant factors. Why should the families also have to worry about an a/c shelter that is provided because a Celebrity and Journalist is more important?
If Fox News is sending correspondents to report the story of the front-lines, I think this should be apart of the story. Geraldo should give insight to America how he felt his story was more important than the people who keep this country free. I can't explain how appalled and disgusted I am with this man. I will never respect or trust anything he says from this point forward. Unless Geraldo comes forward and honestly tells his story, I will never watch Fox or Fox News again. I can and will not believe anything that your network provides, because you employ a person who knowingly goes into a combat zone and risks the lives of the men and women who keep our country free. I am expecting a response, because my family deserves an explanation!
Not one person from Fox News (who makes a big show of supporting our troops and even has a Facebook "Support our Troops" page) bothered to respond or acknowledge her existence. It would appear that Fox's support of our troops only goes as far as their marketing efforts.
When I got wind of this story, I contacted the Fox News media relations department several times with a request for comment. They haven't responded to me, either.
I also contacted the military public affairs department. One Captain seemed genuinely disturbed that troops would be displaced for media, "especially Geraldo" (Geraldo has a history of similar allegations). He directed me to Public Affairs in Afghanistan.
I received the following response:
Geraldo and his crew embedded in Afghanistan in early April while 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade was still on deck. He embedded with several units throughout Helmand province, but while he was at Camp Leatherneck, he stayed in a designated media tent that is reserved for visiting media. No Marines were displaced while he was there. I can't speak for his time with subordinate units, however, when media embed with a combat unit, they are housed by that specific unit, typically alongside the Marines. We have received no reports of Marines being displaced for media.
As of now, there's no unambiguous denial of the story from the military, placing the responsibility for sleeping arrangements on the commanding officer of the specific unit.
I can't comment on the commanding officer's motivation or what pressure he or she may have been under. But there's no excuse for Geraldo Rivera to displace soldiers for even one night for his own personal comfort.
The fact that not one person at Fox bothered to give a concerned military wife the small satisfaction of a response is also telling. Apparently Geraldo and the vaunted news organization he works for has no problem putting the well-being of our troops at risk if it contributes to their own ratings and personal comfort.