Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prince Harry on the frontline in Afghanistan

Prince HarryPrince Harry has been fighting the Taliban on the frontline in Afghanistan, British army officials have confirmed.

The 23-year-old, a second lieutenant in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry, and third in line to the throne, has spent the last 10 weeks in the lawless Helmand province of the war-torn country.

The prince's spokesman said in a statement: "Prince Harry is very proud to serve his country on operations alongside his fellow soldiers and to do the job he has been trained for."

He arrived in late December -- and has been directly involved in gun battle.

On the eve of his departure, he told a pooled interview that it was his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, who told him that he had his marching order.

The Palace and the Ministry of Defense in the U.K. had hoped to keep the mission secret in order to safeguard his life and those of his fellow soldiers -- army chiefs had managed to keep the prince shielded from media and had encouraged fellow soldiers in his squadron to keep mum.

But some foreign outlets started reporting the story on Feb. 28 – including media in Australia and Germany – and the officials moved to confirm the news.

Chief of the General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt, who is head of the British Army, said he was disappointed the news had leaked.

In a statement, he said: "I am very disappointed that foreign websites have decided to run this story without consulting us."

The story was originally broken by Matt Drudge, a man who has been called America's most famous reporter and a ground breaking Internet journalist.

His Drudge Report website has built its reputation on breaking a string of stories - most famously the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1998.

And now the site, which gets more than 3million views a month, is regarded as a bulletin board for TV, radio and newspaper newsrooms across the U.S.

The Report's format is a very simple one, linking news stories from other outlets, with UK newspapers heavily represented on his site.

Drudge, 41, has turned his brand of Internet news, gossip and scandal into a highly profitable website, reportedly earning him more than $1m-a-year in advertising revenues.

Drudge first began operating the website out of an apartment in Hollywood, California, but has since graduated to grander things.

He now runs his operation from two luxurious properties that he owns in Miami, Florida, one a $1.4m mansion on Rivo Alto Island and a $1m apartment in the city's Four Seasons Hotel.

Drudge began his Drudge Report in the mid 1990s, starting it out as a largely showbiz e-mail newsletter he sent around his friends.

As subscribers grew from just 1,000 in 1995 to more than 85,000 in 1997, Drudge began moving away from entertainment to political gossip, setting up the Drudge Report website in 1996.

Drudge's growing reputation was built on beating the more established news networks and outlets in breaking stories.

No story was more famous than in 1998 when Drudge broke details on President Bill Clinton's sex scandal involving White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

Drudge reported on January 17 2008 that Newsweek magazine and their investigative reporter Michael Isikoff were sitting on a story about Clinton's affair. Four days later the Washington Post broke the story in the mainstream media.

Drudge's scoop made him an overnight celebrity and he became a regular talking head as a political gossip.

Drudge's sexuality has also brought him into the headlines in his own right, with a string of claims he is gay, claims Drudge denies.

Drudge himself discussed suing Hollywood star Alec Baldwin, after the actor told radio shock jock Howard Stern that Drudge had once propositioned him.

Drudge is seen as a key figure in the blogging world of the 2008 U.S Presidential election, with all candidates reportedly eager to get material and stories out using his site.

In December 2007 Drudge broke the story that Republican candidate John McCain had 'pleaded' with the New York Times to spike a story about his alleged relationship with a Washington D.C lobbyist.

Earlier this month, McCain was forced to come out and deny the story after the New York Times eventually published it.

And in recent days Drudge has been making waves in the Democratic race for the presidential nominee.

Senator Barak Obama blamed staffers for Senator Hillary Clinton of leaking photos to Drudge of Obama in Somali tribal gear.

Clinton later denied her camp was responsible for the leak and her campaign accused journalists of letting Drudge become their 'assignment editor.'

By Owen Williams, Feb 28 2008 © Copyright 2008 - Showbiz Spy

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