A day after the Pentagon demanded he leave the war zone in Iraq for divulging U.S. troop positions in a broadcast, maverick television reporter Geraldo Rivera has "volunteered" to leave the country, the Fox News Channel said today.
Rivera, who was traveling with the Army's 101st Airborne Division, ran afoul of military commanders with a live report on Sunday in which he sketched a map in the sand to show viewers his relative location in Iraq and where troops might advance next.
Pentagon officials said Monday that Rivera's report "compromised operational security" of the Army unit and that at the insistence of the field commanders, Fox News had agreed to remove him from the war zone.
Rivera himself later suggested all was well between him and the military and accused his competitors at former employer NBC of "spreading some lies" about him.
Fox, a unit of News Corp. Ltd. and the top-rated all-news cable network in the United States, had initially maintained that the matter was under review with the Pentagon.
The veteran correspondent, known for his provocative on-screen style, was not officially "embedded" with the 101st Airborne -- a status by which journalists accompany U.S. troops while adhering to certain ground rules designed to safeguard military security. But he was permitted to join up with the unit from Kuwait after the war began and had been accorded "ad hoc embedded" treatment, a Fox News spokesman said.
Late today, the network issued a statement saying Rivera's brief stint in Iraq was over for now.
"Geraldo Rivera volunteered to return to Kuwait from his embedment with U.S. troops after learning of concerns that he may have inadvertently violated the rules governing embedded journalists," the statement said. "Given those concerns, Fox News and Geraldo thought it better he return to Kuwait while the situation is reviewed. Fox News believes that Geraldo did not knowingly disregard the rules of embedment."
A Fox spokesman said Rivera was expected to leave the country first thing Wednesday morning, but no details were available as to the means of his departure.