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Bochco Bites Back (with Gums)

By Michael Fumento

The following pathetic responses (with my replies) are from the PR stooge for Steven Bochco's anti-war, anti-reality FX series Over There concerning my critique.

Dear Mr. Fumento,

I'm writing in response to your column in the New York Post this morning.

In the future, feel free to call me if you have any questions about any programs on FX or need production notes on any of our programs. I would be happy to provide you with materials you need to write a more informed column.

It's obvious to me that you have no knowledge about the background of the military technical advisor for Over There. I think if you would have asked, you would know that he is, to use your word, a "true" military technical advisor. He is a former U.S.M.C. Staff Sergeant and his ten years of service included an 11-month tour in Iraq where he was a Fire Power Control Team leader with an ANGLICO unit.

While there have been some complaints with regard to the authenticity of the pilot (first) episode, the majority response from soldiers and military personnel was much more positive/favorable with regard to episodes two and three. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of reviews written about Over There were good to outstanding. The only negative reviews the show received were written by critics who believed that the series should have taken a political position but did not.

To buttress your opinion of Over There based on one posting from an antiwar blog is pretty weak. Yes, I know, you could have found plenty more postings to support that antiwar premise. That said, I assure you that I can provide you with as many, if not more, emails/blog postings/letters/etc. from soldiers/veterans of OIF that have a favorable opinion of Over There.

I respect the fact that you were an embed and have personal knowledge of what it is like in Iraq. I know other journalists who were embedded in Iraq who have seen the show and happen to believe it is an accurate depiction of what soldiers face in Iraq. They recognize that the series takes dramatic license at times but they clearly understand it is not a documentary. I screened the first three episodes individually for several soldiers who had served in Iraq and they had a few criticisms, but overall they believed the show got it right. Tony Perry, the military staff writer for the Los Angeles Times who was also embedded in Iraq, screened it for a dozen Marines who had served at least one tour in Iraq, most of them had served two tours. You should read his article published in the Los Angeles Times (July 27) to see those soldiers' comments.

Finally, I respect the fact that you're entitled to your opinion and it's fine if you don't like the show. However, for you to write that the military technical advisor on Over There deserves the firing squad is reprehensible. He has served our country honorably, fought to protect our freedom and has first-hand experience of service in Iraq. If you had bothered to pick up the phone and ask a question, I can only assume that you probably would not have written such an insulting and irresponsible comment.

Please feel free to call because I really would like to discuss this with you.

Sincerely,
John Solberg
Senior Vice President, Public Relations
FX Networks
[phone number omitted]

Dear Mr. Solberg:

Right. That's why a unit couldn't get air support for 36 hours, instead of the usual less-than-30 minutes. That's why the squad had no reinforcements, no artillery, no armor, and even the heavy machine guns on the two Humvees present weren't used. That's why the enemy marks its IEDs with white flags, to make sure to warn off Americans. That's why the Humvee gunners (yes including episodes two and three, the "more accurate" ones) have no shielding? It's why a missile or bomb would be used to take out 20 Stingers in episode three, making it virtually impossible for forensics to determine all could be accounted for. (Yes, I know that was necessary to the plotline to make the intelligence officer a liar and make the Americans ruthless killers of civilians.) It's why even though some members of the squad carry grenade launchers only one grenade was fired during episode one with none during those oh-so-accurate episodes two and three.

In episode three, the GIs question why an airstrike would be used against two terrorists, without wondering why they won't fire grenades or a mortar and wipe them out within minutes. Oh, but wait, even though they're an infantry unit they have no mortar! It's why EOD simply fails to show up to disarm or detonate a car bomb in episode two, even though the incredibly-professional EOD makes it a point to be on-scene in 30 minutes if possible. And sure, legs can keep moving forward even everything above the waist has been blown clean off with that one fired grenade. After all, Washington Irving's horseman rode without a head! Does a former Marine who served in Iraq really not know all this? Even the water bottles are wrong! Evian in Iraq? No, Mr. Solberg; Iraq is not LA. Americans in Iraq get their water from a Kuwaiti company, not the French. I could go on and on, but to what avail. You either haven't got a clue or you do have a clue and don't care. All you care about is making money and slamming the military and the war effort generally.

Nor do I care about the favorable reviews you've gotten; that's just the blind and biased following the Bochco. I would recommend to you the Seattle Post-Intelligencer article of July 26, 2005. I believe the title speaks for itself: "These soldiers say 'Over There' is 'bogus.'"

If your military advisor does give accurate advice, then you're overriding him at every turn and he should have resigned in disgust. Since apparently he hasn't, he sold out the uniform I and so many others have proudly worn. But maybe a firing squad would be too harsh; he should just suit up and have a real soldier rip every patch off his uniform.

Sincerely,
Michael Fumento

Dear Mr. Fumento,

I did read the Seattle P-I story but evidently you didn't read the LA Times story or have no desire to read anything from anyone who said positive things about the show because it doesn't fall in line with your opinion.

I will stand by what I said about our technical advisor. For you to claim that he isn't a "real" soldier is offensive. You know nothing about him because you don't care to know anything about him.

Also, you shouldn't make any assumptions about my political position just because I live in LA. My father spent 26 years in the Air Force and I have always supported our military and will continue to do so.

Sincerely,
John Solberg

Dear Mr. Solberg:

I briefly listed 14 errors in the first three episodes, some small and some stunningly huge. Your response is that of the consummate politician: "I will stand by what I said." You didn't respond because you COULDN'T respond. You've got a rotten little show and you know it.

To repeat: We have three alternatives concerning your carefully-selected "military advisor." He's totally incompetent, he's a liar, or he's willing to see his advice constantly ignored for the 200 pieces of silver you tossed him. I suggest putting him in a locked room with a real Marine for 15 minutes and let's see what "conversation" ensues.

Finally, if you call portraying our troops fighting each other with knives, beating and torturing prisoners, not being able to show up to disarm a bomb or even fire a grenade, and bombing civilians for the sake of it when even for military reasons it would have been much smarter to launch a raid as supporting the military then I guess we should say the same of Jane Fonda during the Vietnam War. When will we be treated to footage of you or Mr. Bochco getting behind an anti-aircraft gun and pretending to shoot down American planes?

Sincerely,
Michael Fumento

August 21, 2005 07:20 PM  ·  Iraq ~ Media ~ Military

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