Mark Bowden, author of the best-selling Black Hawk Down, was interviewed by Chris Matthews on Crossfire on Feb. 15, 2007. I worked with Bowden many many moons ago, when we were young.
I felt proud to have known him. Bowden pursued, without much support from his newspaper, the story of a Black Hawk helicopter that went down in Somalia during the Clinton administration’s foray, U.S. airmen dragged through the streets of Mogadishu. The book also became a popular film, and Bowden has his pick of assignments these days.
He answered Matthews’ questions without the emotional histrionics to which TV news personalities are so prone – no shouting, no talking over the other person, but quietly telling his truth, refusing to be backed into corners or to allow what he had to say to be twisted and turned, exploited or misrepresented. He looked rather handsome (men age so much better than women), quietly confident, a man comfortable in his own skin.
Bowden’s view is that the Islamic terrorism threat has been overestimated and exploited by the administration. He was unphased by Matthews’ aggressive journalistic style designed to catch guests in the “crossfire,” as he styles it.
Bowden stayed in newspaper over decades when newspapers have continued to go out of business until finally, now, their existence is in question. Newspapers may not even survive the age of the internet. But Bowden survived the News American, where we once worked together, a newspaper that celebrated its 200-year run before being crowded out of the Baltimore market by the Sun. He went on to pursue his craft at the Philadelphia Inquirer. It can’t have been easy raising a family on a newsman’s salary. But he did, building his reputation word by word, lead by lead, story by story, mastering his craft the old-fashioned way. It is so gratifying to see a hard-working man achieve fame and fortune, and that it can come relatively late in life, after it has truly been earned. Success doesn’t seem to have turned Bowden’s head and that, too, makes me proud to have known him back in the day.