A hell of a cover story from one of investigative journalism’s biggest proponents. To say “defender” would imply peril — not with this guy on the beat.
One of the biggest scoops of our modern narrative — an exclusive with the man who felled the face of terrorism — as reported by my old boss, Phil Bronstein. It’s a byline I couldn’t be happier to see, and I wouldn’t have wanted this story told by anyone else.
On the third floor, he tackled the two women in the hallway right outside the first door on the right, moving them past it just enough. He thought he was going to absorb the blast of suicide vests; he was going to kill himself so I could get the shot. It was the most heroic thing I’ve ever seen.
I rolled past him into the room, just inside the doorway.
There was bin Laden standing there.
None of my degrees are from a J-school — yet I’d like to think I had a brief apprenticeship at the Phil Bronstein School of Journalism. He’s a big part of the reason I joined the Army — he’s a reporter from the school where merely showing up in the vicinity of a story in a network-branded windbreaker (telegraphing ‘OUT OF THE ORDINARY ACTION MAY OR MAY NOT TAKE PLACE BACK TO YOU’) isn’t enough. He has a body of work, sure — but he’s also got scars with The Story behind them. Scars are a little more hardcore than sporty outer gear.
Hearing part of what he’d seen, a fraction of what he’d done, I didn’t want to just link back to The Story anymore. I wanted to go out and find it myself. So I signed up. I treated Basic like I was an embed, taking notes on everything, earning the nickname “CID.” (And in fact, there was a story out of the ordinary. I don’t know if it will ever be told, but I think the main character gets out of jail this year.)
On the morning Phil writes about here, I was in uniform, on the radio — still “linking back” to the story, but reporting the news nonetheless. And when I was out looking for my own scoops, hunting angles and subjects, I mimicked the way he’d nose into any situation with a glimmer out of the ordinary, looking for a story, a character. I have him to thank of that.
“They were saying, ‘So now we’re taking viewer e-mails. Do you remember where you were when you found out Osama bin Laden was dead?’ And I was thinking: Of course I remember. I was in his bedroom looking down at his body.”
Say what you will about the state of print, but real journalism has to live on, regardless of the medium. Somebody has to be out there, hunting down the story everyone can link back to — and I have to say, I’m glad it’s him.