Fox News, military reach deal on Rivera
Correspondent will leave Iraq rather than be expelled
From Chris Plante
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fox News Channel executives and the Pentagon reached a deal Monday in which correspondent Geraldo Rivera, who raised the military's ire when he reported operational details, will leave Iraq voluntarily rather than be expelled, Pentagon officials told CNN.
After early reports indicated that Rivera would be expelled from the Army unit he was traveling with, Fox and the Pentagon agreed that he would leave on his own, without being officially sanctioned.
U.S. military officials told CNN on Monday morning that Rivera violated the cardinal rule of war reporting by giving away crucial details of military plans during a Fox News Channel broadcast from Iraq, where the reporter was temporarily assigned to the Army's 101st Airborne Division.
In the live broadcast, Rivera told his photographer to aim the camera at the sand in front of him. Rivera then outlined a map of Iraq, and showed the relative location of Baghdad and his location with the 101st Airborne. He then showed where the 101st would be going next.
Senior Pentagon officials also told CNN early Monday that the U.S. military had decided to expel Rivera.
"He gave away the big-picture stuff," a senior military official told CNN. "He went down in the sand and drew where the forces are going."
A Pentagon official told CNN that members of the 101st Airborne would escort Rivera to the Kuwaiti border. But Rivera appeared in another live report from Iraq hours after the official announced his expulsion, and said he knew nothing of it.
"In fact, I'm further in Iraq than I've ever been," he said. "It sounds like some rats from my former network, NBC, are trying to stab me in the back."
Rivera left his job at CNBC in November 2001 to report from Afghanistan for Fox News.
Rivera said he had heard nothing about being expelled until he called network headquarters for the scheduled live broadcast.
"MSNBC is so pathetic a cable news network that they have to do anything they can to attract attention," he said. "You can rest assured that whatever they're saying is a pack of lies."
Nevertheless, as the day went on, Fox News executives pleaded with Pentagon officials to not expel Rivera. Pentagon officials stood their ground and insisted that Rivera go, and a deal was eventually reached, the Pentagon sources said.
Reuters contributed to this report.