I have always had a warm professional spot in my heart for good war correspondents. They are performing one of the most difficult jobs known to civilians.
In today’s Hamas war against Israel – and more — which began with a cowardly Pearl Harbor-type attack and massacre of 1400 Jewish residents of Israel, including an initial slaughtering with videoed glee by the perpetrators of over 250 innocent and unsuspecting concertgoers by Hamas soldiers who came in on motorcycles and trucks with grenades and AK-47 assault rifles, there is one war correspondent who stands out among a lot of good ones: Trey Yingst.
Yingst has proved over the last couple of weeks to be the best war correspondent of this war and one of the best of any war, per his preparedness, his knowledge, his clear articulation nearing eloquence, his awareness of what security concerns allow him to say and withhold, and, of course, his bravery.
For two decades I taught an upper-level course I founded at Towson University, Media Criticism. In that class, I analyzed what constitutes good and not-so-good reporting, locally, nationally, and internationally. The class filled every term, and it was an elective.
War correspondents particularly interest me due to the voluntary life-threatening danger in which they put themselves and the difficulty of reporting, especially live when it is possible.
For similarly excellent WWII war correspondents, I would go to Edward R. Murrow, Richard C. Hottelet, and Ernie Pyle. There have been great female war correspondents, but they are limited by opportunity, which has always been less than males’ and historically often no opportunity whatsoever: Margaret Bourke-White was one, of WWII’s first female war correspondents.
CBS’s Murrow, in perhaps the most famous war correspondent’s pioneer broadcast from Trafalgar Square, broadcast from areas of bombing and interacted with people rushing to shelters amid bombing raids, among other major radio and film transmissions.
CBS’s Hottelet, was one of the first to broadcast Nazi violence against Jews, as well as an on-site account of D-Day. He was for almost half a year imprisoned by the Nazis, released under a journalistic prisoner swap.
Pulitzer Prize winner and well-syndicated writer for Scripps-Howard, Pyle covered the Nazi bombing of London and the battle for Okinawa and was killed and awarded the Purple Heart.
Every day I stand in awe of war correspondents who by choice cover and covered such journalistic life-threatening wars.
That is what Trey Yingst does daily for Fox News. Live, under threat, under political pressure as well.
Yingst, Fox News correspondent in Israel, has provided the best information, consistent with his obligation to withhold information that compromises national security for Israel and the U.S.
Equally impressive, he is as spontaneously articulate as any correspondent I have ever seen or heard.
His reports from war zones in Israel and Gaza, venues under attack and within which he must often flee incoming missiles caught or not caught by Israel’s Iron Dome.
Interspersed with his war reporting are sources he can quote, sources he may not quote, analyses of political considerations he must adhere to, and assessments of the credibility of practically every material factual logistical point he makes.
Asked questions by anchors at the studio, he answers them without breaking sentences…his articulation under pressure is worth beholding.
He appears to have two types of answers: direct responses, reasons he may not answer a question but never” I don’t know.”
Watching this brave young (30) journalist excel in report after report while maintaining the ethics of his occupation is exhilarating.
Watch him. I wish he had been my student. He’s the best.
Richard E. Vatz is professor emeritus of political rhetoric at Towson University and author of The Only Authentic of Persuasion: the Agenda-Spin Model (Authors Press, 2022) and many other works, essays and op-eds. He is a Distinguished Professor at Towson University and has won a number of teaching awards.