Bad for Business

Agree or disagree with Esquire magazine’s portrayal of now-retired former CENTCOM Chief Adm. Mike Fallon, the fallout might send a chill throughout the flag community. 

The article that appeared in the popular magazine’s April issue focused on Fallon, the man it labeled as one between “war and peace.” Highlighting some thoughtful quotes, the flattering (fawning?) piece made Fallon’s views appear at odds with White House policies regarding the war in Iraq. One only can imagine politico surprise. Did Fallon plan this? Was this a way to walk out without having to say, “I’m done!”? Was it an altruistic move in which he was throwing his body on the grenade? (We’re pushing back into fiction, aren’t we?) 

We are sure the Fallon Affair (has a nice ring to it!) is bad news for everyone (except maybe Esquire and Fallon). The losers are numerous news outlets and the hapless hacks that fight their way into interview these gods of battle. Readers who faithfully slug through countless column inches or flip through cable news’ pathetic offerings lose, too. The Fallon Affair is bad for the news business. 

While writers can get by without interviews from the stars, there is a je ne sais quoi that the star du jour can lend. A quote from the Big Guy certainly makes for a more compelling and credible piece. “Hey, if Admiral Bob or General Joe says it, it must be true, and the person writing this is credible.” (And thus the flap over Fallon’s comments.) It has been reported that Fallon balked publicly at his portrayal after the article hit newsstands, but the damage had been done, and we’re not so sure he was so surprised. 

It is the candid, overarching perspective that the flag types can lend. The more candid, the more intimate, the more compelling the story, and that’s good for everyone. Those who have had the misfortune of being themed-and-messaged to death, stand by. At least for the near future it seems reasonable that some of these guys will cling to strat-comm-hack crafted messages. (Gack.) 

Fallon will go on to bigger things. Esquire will make money; maybe stand to win a literary prize. It is we word slaves and the flags that are caught in the aftermath of the Fallon Affair who have been thrown under the bus.

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