Rushing, Josh 1972-

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Rushing, Josh 1972-

PERSONAL:

Born July 24, 1972, in Lewisville, TX; married; wife's name Paige; children: (previous marriage) Luke. Education: University of Texas, B.A., 1999.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Washington, DC. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

U.S. Marine Corps, 1990-2004, public affairs officer, CA; liaison to Al Jazeera at the U.S. Central Command media center, Doha, Qatar, 2003-04, attained the rank of captain; Al Jazeera, Doha, journalist, 2005—.

WRITINGS:

(With Sean Elder) Mission Al Jazeera: Build a Bridge, Seek the Truth, Change the World, Palgrave Macmillan (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Josh Rushing is a former U.S. Marine whose military career was interrupted when he spoke out against U.S. media coverage of the Iraq war. While a Marine he wrote for and edited publications for five years, then attended college while he was on active duty. His experience as a public affairs officer led to his being chosen as liaison to Al Jazeera during the Iraq war. He was stationed at the U.S. Central Command located in Doha, Qatar, beginning in 2003. Jazeera, which means "the Island," is the Arabic name for the Gulf States. The television station based in Doha first broadcast Arabic news and current affairs via satellite, then expanded to provide content in other languages around the world, including English. Rushing eagerly learned Arabic and established relationships with the Al Jazeera journalists. His willingness to adapt was influential in overcoming the hostility that was part of this environment.

Egyptian filmmaker Jehane Noujaim came to the media center and filmed Control Room, a documentary that was assumed to be a student film but which, in fact, was aired at the Sundance Film Festival. She focused on Rushing who candidly shared his observations of, and feelings about, the war. Mark Memmott wrote a cover story in USA Today, in which he noted: "Control Room captured Rushing's growing respect for Al-Jazeera's staff, particularly senior producer Hassan Ibrahim, with whom he had many philosophical debates. In one scene, Rushing talked about how revolted he was by Al-Jazeera showing dead American soldiers and interviews with American prisoners of war. Then he noted that he had seen video of Iraqi casualties on the network and not been affected by what he saw."

The film was released in 2004, by which time Rushing was continuing to speak out about what he saw as deception in the way U.S. sources reported the war. "Rushing told the Village Voice that American media don't tell the whole story when they cover a war. ‘In America war isn't hell—we don't see blood, we don't see suffering. All we see is patriotism, and we support the troops. It's almost like war has some brand marketing here,’ he said in that interview." After speaking out, Rushing was ordered to stop expressing his opinion, and the Marine who had been considering a career as a foreign affairs officer left the Corps. He was strongly criticized for speaking out and for his view that the U.S. press should engage with the Arab media, and according to his Web site, he received hate mail and even death threats. He was a featured guest on many major news and talk shows. In early 2005, Al Jazeera created a new English-language channel and hired journalists from American, Canadian, and British syndicates and networks. Just as Rushing was about to return to Texas, Al Jazeera asked him to join the team.

In his book Mission Al Jazeera: Build a Bridge, Seek the Truth, Change the World, which he wrote with Sean Elder, Rushing emphasizes his belief that the United States media should form a closer relationship with media outlets such as Al Jazeera, which is often accused of biased reporting by the U.S. government and media. He points out the biases in American reporting and the inaccurate impressions Americans and Arabs have of each other as a result of this divide. A Kirkus Reviews contributor concluded a review of the book by writing: "Rushing is still trying to explain America to the Arab world and vice versa, and his vignettes clearly reveal what a tough job that is."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 1, 2007, Jay Freeman, review of Mission Al Jazeera: Build a Bridge, Seek the Truth, Change the World, p. 53.

Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2007, review of Mission Al Jazeera.

Mother Jones, November-December, 2006, Daniel Schulman, "The Education of Lieutenant Rushing."

USA Today, September 28, 2005, Mark Memmott, "Former Marine in Media Glare as He Joins Al-Jazeera.

ONLINE

Josh Rushing Home Page,http://www.joshrushing.com (January 2, 2008).

Josh Rushing MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/ (January 2, 2008).

Time Online,http://www.time.com/ (September 27, 2005), Sally B. Donnelly, "Al Jazeera Hires an Ex-Marine."

YouTube,http://www.youtube.com/ (January 2, 2008), Rushing videos.