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Where's GerWaldo?

An AP photo provides a light moment from Afghanistan.

11:01 PM, Dec 17, 2001 • By TERRY EASTLAND
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Photo by Kevin Frayer of the Canadian Press, via the AP.Photo by Kevin Frayer of the Canadian Press, via the AP.DO YOU see what I see? Look carefully at the photo above, which ran in Monday's Washington Post. It was taken by Kevin Frayer of the Canadian Press and transmitted by the Associated Press. The Post used the photograph to illustrate its lead story--about how al Qaeda forces are fleeing to Pakistan. The photo actually appeared on the jump page for the story--A-16--where, taking up no fewer than 50 square inches, it could hardly be missed. And plainly visible in the photograph is Waldo, I mean Geraldo, as in Geraldo Rivera, late of MSNBC and now of Fox News (as its War Correspondent). Rivera is right there on the left, looking (for once) not into the lens of a cameraman (here the Canadian Press's Frayer) but at someone or something else we can't see. Above his head is a boom microphone. He's ready, man.

Who can believe the editors at the Post's foreign desk failed to see GerWaldo? The caption reads: "Eastern Afghanistan security chief Hazrat Ali, center, walks with soldiers near the front line at Tora Bora. Ali said 500 al Qaeda fighters may have escaped." Obviously, the photo could have been cropped. GerWaldo could have been removed. But the Post didn't do that. GerWaldo's in there, completely, and I'm willing to believe the editors couldn't resist keeping him in. Perhaps they figured people would talk about the photo (as I'm doing now) if they heard that Rivera was in it. Perhaps they thought people would be amused upon glimpsing a man of such notoriously large ego as his, in a photograph like this. Speaking of Rivera's ego, last week Barry Shlachter of the Charlotte Observer reported that Rivera's two crew members wear helmets but Rivera himself doesn't. Asked why, his cameraman said, "They don't make a helmet big enough for his head."

Media critics have hammered Rivera for so injecting himself into the war story that he's become part of it, a journalistic no-no. It's possible to take Frayer's photo as evidence of Rivera's injectionary capability. Maybe, at the last second, just before the photographer finished, Rivera raced into what he knew was going to be this picture. Consider the Afghan soldier to the right of Rivera. He's just swung his eyes to his right, as if to see who has just come up from his right rear. And he's thrust his right arm out to his left, chest-high, as if to steady himself after having been bumped from behind by this rude man. Could be, too, that Rivera's hat, not exactly fashionable in this part of the world, has startled the soldier. The hat, of course, distinguishes Rivera, just as (on this reading of Frayer's photograph) he knew it would.

The war on terrorism is deadly serious. Diversions are few. Kevin Frayer has--with or without Geraldo's help--provided one.

Terry Eastland is publisher of The Weekly Standard.