The Washington Post has a brief report on the resignation of Duncan Boothby, Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s civilian press aide who “was heavily involved in arranging access for journalist Michael Hastings to McChrystal and his staff this year,” access that resulted in the talk-of-the-morning Rolling Stone profile**, “The Runaway General,” a profile that “portrayed the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and some of his aides as derisive toward Obama administration officials” and for which McChrystal has been summoned from Afghanistan to the White House for a meeting tomorrow.
Back to Boothby:
Boothby is not a military officer. He is one of a growing number of civilians hired as press aides for senior military brass as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to generate considerable public interest and controversy.
Military officials say civilians are often better suited to provide constructive criticism and unconventional ideas than military public affairs professionals. In many cases senior generals have reached out to former journalists for an outside set of eyes. Often these civilian aides have a loose portfolio and are brought along in part because they aren’t as constrained by the military’s chain of command…
McChrystal, who spent much of his military career in the world of special operations, didn’t have as much experience dealing with the media as did other top commanders, such as Gen. David H. Petraeus. Boothby’s appointment was seen as supplementing the general in an area where he was weak.
**The profile was scheduled for release later this week but will now be available online later today, according to NPR (meantime, at rollingstone.com, it’s as if this story — and the stories generated by the story— doesn’t exist.) The piece was available earlier this morning at Politico in PDF form (and as of this writing a PDF can still be had elsewhere online.)
UPDATE, 11:26am: Rolling Stone has it up now (time-stamped 10:00 am, though I didn’t see it there then).
UPDATE II, 11:49am: And, actually, I still don’t see the piece on Rolling Stone’s home page. Or even when I click on “politics.” I got the direct link from Twitter, where it has been linked widely.Liz Cox Barrett is a freelance writer and graphic designer in Kalispell, Montana. She worked as a newspaper journalist in Denver and Kalispell for 20 years.