Home > Americas, Conflict & Security, USA > Ex-Marine Josh Rushing on his Journey from Military Mouthpiece to Al Jazeera Correspondent

Ex-Marine Josh Rushing on his Journey from Military Mouthpiece to Al Jazeera Correspondent

Below is a section from a transcript of an interview with Josh Rushing, posted on Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: Four years ago, our first guest today helped sell the Iraq war to the American public. Armed with talking points from the Bush administration, Josh Rushing served as a Marine spokesperson at CENTCOM in Doha as the US invaded Iraq. Josh Rushing has since retired from the Marines and has started working at an unlikely outlet: the Arabic news channel Al Jazeera International.

Rushing became famous in the Arab world after he appeared almost by chance in the documentary Control Room about Al Jazeera. After the film was released, the Marines ordered Rushing to stop speaking to the press, because he had begun publicly defending Al Jazeera. When the network launched an English-language channel, Rushing was offered a job.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that part, the representing the Marine Corps to the entertainment industry. Explain how Hollywood works with the military.

JOSH RUSHING: Sure. It depends on how you look at it. The military looks at it as an educational opportunity. They realize how influential Hollywood is in shaping people’s views of the military, and everything else, for that matter. So what they do is that they make government bases, planes, tanks, personnel all available to Hollywood if the script is in some way deemed educational and pretty close to accurate — more important to be educational than actually accurate. And my job was to go through the script, make sure there was some value for the American citizen and the government participating in that, and then making sure the government was reimbursed to the penny, so that it didn’t cost taxpayers anything.

AMY GOODMAN: And if they didn’t like a script, they wouldn’t allow them to use the —

JOSH RUSHING: I spent more time saying no than yes to projects. For example, Jarhead was a book — I actually loved the book, Anthony Swofford’s account of his time in the Gulf War, the first one, but I had to say no to the script, even though the military tech advisor was a friend of mine, even though the writer of the script, Bill Broyles, is a former Marine, and then Sam Mendes directed American Beauty, my favorite movie. But we said no because it just had inaccuracies, and it didn’t show the events as they were, and it lacked what I guess was an educational element.

AMY GOODMAN: I remember interviewing the author of Black Hawk Down, saying, yeah, he changed the script to make the military happy, because they wanted to use — I mean, it’s, to say the least, very dramatic when you can have millions of dollars of US military money invested in a film.

JOSH RUSHING: There was a scene in Black Hawk Down where it had a senior officer slapping a junior enlisted member across the face, and the scene was pulled from the script. And then, the director — who I’m forgetting right now…

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