Makeup, hair gel and bul­lets: For war re­porters, they’re the news

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Stephanie Mansfield

Sa­fari shirt? Check. Flak jacket? Check. Faux bronzer, Ray-Bans, camo pants, boots, lap­top? Check.

Where there’s a war, there are war cor­re­spon­dents. And dur­ing the past few weeks, with roundthe-clock cov­er­age of the skir­mishes be­tween Is­rael and Hezbol­lah, var­i­ous faces have emerged as mar­quee play­ers — not only ap­pear­ing on the daily news, but blog­ging on the var­i­ous In­ter­net sites and pro­duc­ing in-depth specials.

Peo­ple such as CNN’s An­der­son Cooper (now in Lon­don for the foiled bomb­ing plot), John Roberts and Brig. Gen. James “Spi­der” Marks, Fox News’ Jen­nifer Grif­fin, NBC’s Richard En­gel, CBS’ Lara Logan and, of course, the nightly news an­chor­men, in­clud­ing NBC’s Brian Wil­liams and CNN’s Wolf Bl­itzer, have dropped in and out of the war zones.

“They look very crisp com­ing off the plane,” said Mrs. Grif­fin, 37, a vet­eran re­porter who was call­ing from Jerusalem. With all their sar­to­rial on-air AudieMur­phy gear, “It does look a lit­tle silly. I only wear a flak jacket when I know I need it.”

In­sid­ers re­fer to the new­bies as “Katyusha catch­ers,” duck­ing and weav­ing while sirens wail and their mod­ern epaulets un­ravel, putting them­selves in harm’s way for the sake of agood live shot. “They’re lit­er­ally try­ing to get struck on air,” Mrs. Grif­fin said.

Some­times the fresh-on-the­ground cor­re­spon­dents can’t tell one boom from an­other.

Duringone stand-up re­port from Is­rael, the correspondent yelled, “We’ve got in­com­ing!” and ducked for cover.

His cam­era­man re­mained calm. “Dude,” he said un­der his breath, “That’s an F-16. It’s out­go­ing.”

Mak­ing your name while re­port­ing a big story has be­come a sure­fire way to as­cend the ca­reer lad­der. CNN’s Chris­tiane Aman­pour and Peter Ar­nett be­came world-fa­mous in the early 1990s for their cov­er­age of the Per­sian Gulf War. Ashleigh Ban­field was a lit­tle-known re­porter for MSNBC in New York when the ter­ror­ist at­tacks on the World Trade Cen­ter oc­curred on Septem­ber 11. She won an Emmy for her work.

Cer­tainly, there is jeal­ousy and snip­ing among the pack cov­er­ing Is­rael vs. Hezbol­lah, but for the most part, the jour­nal­ists say they are too tired to do any­thing but work. “It’s be­yond ex­haust­ing,” Mrs. Grif­fin said. “And there’s no end in sight.”

Still, it’s what they want.

“I’ve al­ways had the drive and de­sire to be at the cen­ter of a big story,” said Mr. Roberts in an e-mail mes­sage. “That’s why I got into this busi­ness.”

Then there’s Gen. Marks, a 53year-old re­tired Army gen­eral and mil­i­tary con­sul­tant for CNN, who was hired a year ago. He made “no more” than 50 ap­pear­ances in all of last year, com­pared with the same num­ber in the re­cent weeks since the con­flict started.

With his chis­eled fea­tures and close-cropped hair, he of­ten wears gold-but­toned jack­ets and made­for-TV ties, which his daugh­ters pick out for him to wear.

“They don’t trust their dad,” he said. “Ihave to get ‘clear­ance’ be­fore I leave the house.”

He uses a “Google Earth” dig­i­tal map that he says is the same de­vice the mil­i­tary uses when as­sess­ing a mil­i­tary sit­u­a­tion. He has no fan clubs yet, as blos­somed for “Scud Stud” ArthurKent of Per­sian Gulf War fame, but there’s still time for him.

But for Lara Logan of CBS, a comely blonde, that time is now.

The 35-year-old South African­born correspondent has her own fan Web site, was named chief for­eign correspondent in Fe­bru­ary and con­trib­utes to “60 Min­utes.”

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