Rivera reported in a Dec. 6 piece that he became emotional and choked up while standing on the "hallowed ground" in Afghanistan where "friendly fire took so many of our, our men and the mujahedeen yesterday." Rivera said he had recited the Lord's Prayer.
But, according to a report on the Baltimore Sun's Internet site, Rivera admitted that he was several hundred miles from the site - outside Kandahar - where three Americans were killed on Dec. 5 by an errant U.S. bomb.
In an interview on Tuesday, Rivera said he had confused the Kandahar deaths with another "friendly fire" incident that cost several Afghan lives in Tora Bora. But, according to the Sun, Pentagon information shows the Tora Bora incident occurred at least three days after Rivera's Dec. 6 report.
Rivera quit his talk show on CNBC to become a war correspondent for the Fox News Channel in November. He said at the time he couldn't bear to stay on the sidelines during a big story.
He generated some controversy among fellow correspondents for boasting of carrying a gun while on the news beat in the war-torn country. One Associated Press correspondent said in a letter to the Poynter Institute that it was dangerous for journalists to brag about being armed in a war zone.
Three Army Green Berets were killed and 20 other Americans were wounded Wednesday, Dec. 5, when an Air Force B-52 dropped a one-ton bomb near them. The soldiers had called in the air strike to hit Taliban forces they were fighting near the militia's southern stronghold of Kandahar. Five anti-Taliban Afghan fighters also were killed and another 18 were wounded.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld ordered an investigation into the mistaken bombing. The Pentagon identified those killed as Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald Davis, 39, of Watauga, Tenn.; Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory, 32, of Cheshire, Mass.; and Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, 28, of Fraizer Park, Calif. All were members of the Army's 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.
A forward air controller among the U.S. troops involved in the incident called for close air support and an Air Force B-52 bomber responded by launching a bomb known as a Joint Direct Attack Munition. The bomb is guided by a satellite navigation system and is considered one of the most accurate weapons in the U.S. arsenal. It was used for the first time in combat in Kosovo in 1999.
Pentagon officials said investigators will try to determine whether the bomb missed the intended target because of mechanical or human error.
Bob Steele, director of the ethics program at the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based, Poynter Institute, said: "I believe that Geraldo Rivera and Fox News owe their viewers a substantive explaation of what this means, journalistically and ethically. If he did this in a way that violates journalistic standards, he is disrespectful not only to his profession, but to the families of those Americans who died."
Fox News has offered no explanation, the Sun reported. Fox News spokesman Rob Zimmerman said he had "no information" on whether the network was reviewing the incident. On Thursday, Zimmerman told the Sun it had a vendetta against the channel and hung up the phone.
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