August 17th, 2014
01:06 PM ET

CNN crew’s heroic reporting in Iraq

In the video above, CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson and photojournalist Mark Phillips describe what it was like to report on an extraordinary relief and rescue mission in northern Iraq earlier this week.

During the dangerous mission, "I was terrified," Watson said. "I sent a note to my girlfriend to pass on to my family when we were taking off... just in case."

Stelter asked Phillips if he was equally terrified. In the moment, he said, "I'm more or less concentrating on what I'm doing and that takes away the fear factor." But it sunk in later, he said, once he watched the video he had recorded.

Watson said that's one of the reasons why he took photos with his camera phone during the harrowing trip: "Not only can I then share images as well afterwards, but it also does help me focus and shield myself from what's going on - and not be thinking about or worrying about the possibility that the fighters below might have surface-to-air missiles that could shoot our helicopter out of the sky."

Filed under: Reliable Sources
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Iwitte Le Sneuse

    And it was heroic, as it was dangerous, but actual threat is relative.

    August 24, 2014 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  2. Iwitte Le Sneuse

    It was heroic in that they participated in a rescue. Personally, I would have considered them in the way on the helo and said no to the whole thing. As to heroic, they were under threat of fire, but not under fire. Contrast that to the war coverage of Morley Safer and Dan Rather during the Vietnam War. The actual heroic event was the rescue and food & water assistance. That reporters were allowed on the helicopter says that the risk of being shot at was low, or the sensational reporters – the story here – once again, the reporters becoming the story. On Dan and Morley, they covered the war with a huge liberal arts/humanities understanding of the Vietnam War in total. And it was major national news. This was a drastically needed rescue that in the bigger picture is a small crisis inside of a globally bigger one. The point you may see already hinted at, that globally CNN has a pathetically shallow understanding and knowledge of the whole issues surrounding ISIS, Malaki, etc. Analysis is shallow, feature, Action Cam, and sensational (of course valid) reporting is grossly out of proportion to analysis. "In Depth" means more than one thing. Details are one thing, analysis is another. These guys are being hyped, and part of my war correspondent study included (with a stated conscientious objection) was, with a degree, go into the infantry, jump school, RIP, then switched to a regular unit, later engaged that C.O. and left. The real heroes are those CNN reporters are those who are in the line of fire, and those outside of CNN who study, understand, and report on the real Middle East, and the realities of what Islam is and the vast differences between even Shia here, Shia there. "Heroic"? They were in the way. What was the actual specific relative combat risk? Dan might still be around. He schooled a bunch of you already, maybe he will do it again. Gladly, probably. I could load up a "combat load" of food and a camera, and jump off those struts and help out, and what a story I would be reporting. CNN hyping a story. If they are heroes, we'll figure it out. Don't invent them as such. There are myriads of war correspondent heroes out there. News coverage in helicopters is nationwide. Gotta run. Shia later, it's very Sunni outside. Back to writing about my experiences and interviews in Hafir al Batin. Airborne! Ma Salaam.

    August 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • Iwitte Le Sneuse

      rather, Dan Rathers – missed typo, no edit button, etc.

      August 24, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Reply
    • Iwitte Le Sneuse

      Another question, if they were so scared, why not send someone else in? Morley Safer? Dan Rathers? Me?

      August 24, 2014 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  3. Linda Gene Goldstein

    .Ivan Watson is a national treasure..as is Michael

    August 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm | Reply

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