Pentagon Cancels Media Analysis Contract With The Rendon Group

Rear Adm. Smith says decision not based on imbedded journalist controversy
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The Pentagon is cancelling its media analysis contract with The Rendon Group, according to Stars & Stripes.

The newspaper had reported that the contractor was rating the past work of journalists seeking to imbed with the military and that the information was using it to try to influence coverage. Rendon had countered that it was conducting standard content analysis which was "not provided as the basis for accepting or rejecting a specific journalist's inquiries."

But the story drew angry responses from journalist groups, and the paper said Monday that it had been told by the Pentagon that the contract would be cancelled, though not because anybody had done anything wrong, at least not on the watch of the current officer in charge.

"The decision to terminate the Rendon contract was mine and mine alone," said Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, in an e-mail sent Sunday to Stars and Stripes, the paper reported. "As the senior U.S. communicator in Afghanistan, it was clear that the issue of Rendon's support to US forces in Afghanistan had become a distraction from our main mission.

"I have been here since early June and at no time has anyone who worked for me ever conducted themselves in a manner as your newspaper alleged. I cannot and will not speculate on the past, although I have found no systemic issues with fairness or equity in the way U.S. forces have run their media embed program."

The news of the contract's cancellation came at about the same time that CBS imbedded reporter Cami McCormick was injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and CBS reporter Kimberly Dozier, who was severely injured while covering the war in Iraq in 2006, was discussing the dangers of imbeds at SPJ's national conference in Indianapolis.

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