Gun Tweet of the Day: Blaze Writer Turned Sniper Puts Journalists in Harm’s Way

“A correspondent for The Blaze visiting Iraq posted a photo of himself firing a sniper rifle at Islamic State extremists,” reports. “He tweeted that he fired six shots at the enemy. Now he’s facing incoming. But they aren’t bullets. Fellow journalists are slamming the correspondent, Jason Buttrill, for picking up a gun. They say journalists are not supposed to be combatants.”

And for good reason: so the enemy doesn’t get to thinking it’s open season on jobbing journos. A bit of background on Buttrill . . .

Buttrill describes himself on his Twitter account as a former intelligence analyst for the Pentagon who is now a geopolitical analyst and chief researcher for The Blaze, the news network started by conservative talk radio personality Glenn Beck. A story on the news portal lauds Buttrill for “documenting the fight to take back Iraq street by street.”

Over at the aforementioned Twitter account, the now-recalled Blaze correspondent is taking nothing but heat from his colleagues, including the estimable C.J. Chivers, who added his perspective with typical taciturnity: “how about knocking off the bullshit.” Jason Stern, Senior Research Associate for the Committee to Protect Journalists, also fired-off a retaliatory Tweet: “Like with doctors, humanitarian workers and other civilians, the journalist’s best defense is their noncombatant status.”

No one, however, has taken the time to ask if Mr. Buttrill was actually shooting at ISIS fighters or, indeed, if he hit any of them. I’m not saying he did or didn’t. And I’m not saying it matters much. But these are journalists dinging Buttrill. You’d hope they’d be a little less self-righteous and a lot more curious.

Anyway, Buttrill has issued the following apology:

So, a military Mulligan for a ballistic Buttrill?


  1. avatar jimmy james says:

    Ask Daniel Pearl about being a non combatant. Oh wait, you can’t. He was murdered by terrorists. I say smoke check the bastards every chance you get no matter who you are.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Yep. Mr. Pearl learned first-hand that there are some Muslims who follow the exhortations of the Qur’an to kill Jews – quite literally, and in the same manner that Muhammad killed Jews.

  2. Journalists are not in greater danger. Their false sense of security has just been eliminated. They would be in more danger if they started telling the truth about the Democrats in DC.

    1. avatar Omer Baker says:

      Now that’s funny!

      Cause it’s true.

  3. avatar The Gray Poseur says:

    Apparently this is a big no-no. Journalists are supposed to just knowingly misreport the news, not actually participate.

    1. avatar Ing says:

      Ha! That pretty much sums it up.

  4. avatar Merlin says:

    “how about knocking off the bullshit.”

    How about the media in general takes this advice?

    The ISIS doesn’t give a hoot about “the non-combatant status” to begin with. Perhaps we would all be better off if they didn’t know who is going to shoot at them?

    1. Yeah, I haven’t really heard of anyone stopping mid-attack to make sure their target isn’t a journalist.

    2. avatar tdiinva (now in Wisconsin} says:

      Joey Galloway traded his camera for an M-16 during the battle for the Ia Drang Valley because his life was directly threatened. That was not the case for Butrell. He took offensive action by using his USMC training to snipe at the story. There is a difference between a combat cameraman shooting at someone and a someone working for a news organization. As much as I admire his intentions I say he did wrong.

    3. avatar Missouri Mule says:

      So The Blaze hires a Marine intelligence analyst with 12 years executive protection experience with Gavin de Becker & Associates, sends him to the front line with a camera and a phone and are surprised he wants to wack bad guys? Good grief!

  5. avatar Omer Baker says:

    How has the non combative thing been working out for all those journalists beheaded by jihadis?

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      This was kind of my thought. Even a basic service pistol well hidden somewhere would make me feel a lot better as a journalist in that part of the world. I could see it taking someone by surprise too because they likely see journalists as soft targets.

  6. avatar Charlie Mike Mike says:

    The Blaze is not journalism so the shooter is not a journalist.

    Case closed.

    1. avatar Rokurota says:

      Came here to say just this. If The Blaze is fake news, then there’s no problem here. Can’t have it both ways, MSM!

      1. avatar Chadwick says:

        It’s a BINGO!

  7. avatar Model 31 says:

    If your journalistic defense plan includes the mercy and honor of ISIS fighters, you got more problems than I can fix.

  8. avatar gargoil says:

    hmm i didn’t really see a problem with it until Robert pointed out what trail leads to. yeah, not a good idea to be picking up guns when your supposed to just report the facts.

  9. avatar pwrserge says:

    Let’s see… We’re relying on the honor of people who shoot up theaters and run trucks through crowds of civilians…

    Great plan there ‘tex.

    1. avatar Katy says:

      I think isn’t just this one conflict. If you want people to take your claims of “just reporting” seriously, you can’t be a hypocrite. Nothing would have stopped him from defending himself when others failed, but he had no reason to fire in this case.

      1. avatar pwrserge says:

        Except that context matters. In the context of shooting ISIS… This isn’t so much an “indiscretion” as an achievement.

      2. avatar Bryan says:

        No reason to fire except that ISIS are the enemies of the human race and should be killed without exception everywhere and everywhere they are found and by any means at hand. Other than that, no reason to fire.

  10. avatar Gov. William J. Le Petomane says:

    Apparently they think the Islamic State will find something worse than beheading now.

    1. avatar Chadwick says:

      This kinda feels like when I learned about the German response to shotguns in WWI.

  11. avatar Ben says:

    As if IS would not have killed him or any journalist they get ahold of in sinister fasion. The non-combatant status doesn’t apply in the Middle East knuckle heads. He might as well join in. Hell stick a go pro on his rifle! Now that’s exiting journalism.

  12. avatar Doublepar says:

    The picture is more likely taken in a makeshift range. Just saying …

    1. avatar passthebrass says:

      I agree. Buttrill is kneeling behind some wood that wouldnt stop a .22lr, and the two dudes in the back are just hangin out with their hands in their pockets. If the enemy is in range, so are you.

      1. avatar Ing says:

        Exactly what I was thinking. If he was actually shooting at ISIS, this wasn’t it. This just looks like a photo op.

  13. avatar Rusty Chains says:

    Unless he actually hit his targets I doubt his shooting instructor would actually be impressed. As far as being a non-combatant, the whole jihad thing is about killing non-believers so it isn’t like fighting in a war where the other side actually wears uniforms and follows the Geneva conventions.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Yep – they’re not bound by the Geneva Convention (or anything similar) because they’re a member of no army with uniforms and a command structure – or a nation-state to which they adhere.

      This should mean that we are not bound to any such restrictions, either, but we’re saddled with a bunch of intellectuals who think that we’re going to win a worldwide war against a seventh century ideology with high-minded ideals and words on pieces of paper.

  14. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    “Like with doctors, humanitarian workers and other civilians, the journalist’s best defense is their noncombatant status.”

    Yea, that worked well for Steven Sotloff. And it sorta worked for Mr. James Foley – until it didn’t. And it worked for… (insert a couple dozen more names of western journo’s here).

    The only thing that’s so adorable about journalists and j-school majors is how they have this child-like naiveté about the world – when it costs them their lives, that is.

    When this child-like naiveté’ costs other people their lives, well then it quits being adorable and quickly becomes contemptible.

    1. avatar Warren says:

      Daniel Pearl is the name that immediately popped into my head.

    2. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “The only thing that’s so adorable about journalists and j-school majors is how they have this child-like naiveté about the world – when it costs them their lives, that is.”

      The tangos had a great PR campaign going on when they started recording and releasing video of the Ginsu knife beheadings they were doing to the ‘reporters’ they were kidnapping.

      And then for a few years, they suddenly stopped. The greatest recruitment videos they ever had, and then they just stopped doing them.

      They resumed them a short while back with the mass oceanside beheadings and burning the Jordanian pilot to death, but I could never figure out why they stopped doing them in the first place…

  15. avatar Stoney Man says:

    A Press Pass does not grant special privileges nor does it make someone a Journalist.

    Journalists should be targeted at the onset of any engagement.

  16. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    This is last week’s news. It was reported widely then.

    1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

      “No one, however, has taken the time to ask if Mr. Buttrill was actually shooting at ISIS fighters or, indeed, if he hit any of them.”
      From the Blaze story published on the 8th: “Buttrill recently took some shots at ISIS as he was out getting reports from the front line.”
      It kinda seems like they have already answered the question if he was actually shooting at ISIS fighters.

  17. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    It’s in everybody’s best interest that the story gets out. Journalists shouldn’t take up arms in combat, neither should they be specifically targeted.

    As for this particular guy, he’s just pure poser and deserves the public rebuke he gets. Former intelligence analyst who wanted to play soldier man for a minute or two, from the safety of sniper distance. Basically, he just wanted to go to fantasy camp and murder someone legally. I think someone has all three “Purge” films downloaded to his iPad…..

    1. avatar pwrserge says:

      Did you miss the part where he’s also a Marine?

      1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

        I sure did miss that part. I guess I got hung on the part where it said that he ONCE, as in past tense, was a Marine. He isn’t on active duty now. He isn’t deployed to a war zone in a combatant capacity now. That he WAS a Marine in yeare past is irrelevant. Nice attempt at a rebuttal, though. Better luck next time.

        1. avatar pwrserge says:

          Yeah… Calling a veteran a poser… classic.

        2. avatar FulMetlJakit says:

          Bojack Horeseman; Tom Jumbo-Grumbo” – “What? Did you just say the troops are jerks?
          Wouldn’t worry about “Swerge”… I appreciate some of his political and legal insight, but anyone who thinks “Leftists will have their time against the wall”(sic) & Nice Floyd reference btw… Doesn’t do justice, or good to the POTG.
          Firing in defense is one thing, this… if I see some gang members on a corner would I not be prosecuted (rightfully) and eviscerated in public opinion for lighting them up?

    2. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

      Are you a mind reader or is this projection? You wouldn’t take a shot at ISIS if you could?

      1. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

        First, it doesn’t take a mind reader to discern his intentions and motivations. They’re abundantly obvious.

        Second, projection? Seriously? You’re playing the “I don’t like what you said, so I’m going to say mean things about you” card? Grow up. You’re better than that. Hell, you’re not even using that term correctly, which is what happens when you pick up stray bits and pieces of technical knowledge from the Internet.

        Finally, take a shot at ISIS? I don’t know who he shot and neither do you. He popped off six rounds at people who, by his own admission, “looked like ants in his scope.” Hardly a proof positive I.D.

        So your question is based in a false premise. Nevertheless, except for defending against a lone wolf attack somewhere in Houston, I don’t see how I’d even be in proximity to ISIS to take a shot. To humor you, though, let’s say I were in Iraq on business. Other things being equal, barring any other description of the hypothetical situation, then no, I wouldn’t just go taking shots at someone whom I thought was with ISIS.

        Run along, now. Go fire up the playstation and make America great again, or whatever.

  18. avatar former water walker says:

    The Blaze huh? I hope this doofus wasn’t taking advice from the lunatic Beck. Yeah “journalists” have been getting killed willy nilly for a long time. Didn’t Ernie Pyle bite a bullet? At least during our Civil War reporters had the sense of not hanging out in the middle of a battle…infidel open season.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “At least during our Civil War reporters had the sense of not hanging out in the middle of a battle…”

      Not really. I’ve read accounts of civil war battles where the locals would make a day of it and pack a picnic lunch and find a spot to watch the festivities…

      1. avatar former water walker says:

        I am aware early in the war(when the northerners thought it would be over in weeks) stupid folks frolicked in places like Antetum(or Manasass /Bull Run). They learned…and Honest Abe got shot at(however he was a “veteran” from the Black Hawk War(at least he was in the militia)…

  19. avatar Publius says:

    “Like with doctors, humanitarian workers and other civilians, the journalist’s best defense is their noncombatant status.”

    Funny, that didn’t protect the doctors in that Doctors Without Borders hospital that the US military shot up earlier this year.

  20. avatar David N says:

    This isn’t news. Joe Galloway of UPI was known to take up weapons during his assignment with the 7th Cav at the Ia Drang and other places, and I doubt he was the only reporter to do so in that war or any other. To tweet it is bad form, but I have no gas about reporters taking up weapons.

    1. avatar tdiinva (now in Wisconsin} says:

      As noted about Galloway was in close contact with the NVA troops whereas Butrell was “Shooting at ants through the scope.” He wasn’t under the same threat that Joey Galloway was when he was about to be overrun.

      1. avatar anarchyst says:

        A recent article in “Vietnam” magazine had an interview with Joe Galloway. Sad to say, he defended the reporters who LIED about actions in Vietnam, “giving them a pass”…

  21. avatar ACP_arms says:

    Shooting -at- ISIS is on his bucket list? how about hitting and killing ISIS with that rifle.

  22. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    Buttrill’s transgression is not that he picked up a rifle and tried to pick off a few ISIS pukes in the same manner that we would try to pick off a few prairie dogs. There is no sin in trying to eliminate an imminent, credible threat to the human race.

    His mistake was in failing to STFU about it. The great achievement of the social media phenomenon is in quickly identifying those who are pathetically desperate for attention.

  23. avatar JoshFormerlyinGA says:

    I don’t think the press has any business firing upon enemy combatants/terrorists/whatever, and we’re I a member of the press I would definitely not engage in such activities. Sure carry a rifle for defense and kill any fvkcers attacking the group you’re embedded with so you don’t end up on the Al J show losing your head. Taking pot shots seems like a bridge too far though, YMMV.

  24. avatar million says:

    ask Doctors without Borders how that non-combatant role has been working out for their hospitals and staff in the ME.

  25. avatar Cloudbuster says:

    A lot of people have mentioned Daniel Pearl, but who sprang to my mind was Ernie Pyle:

    Pyle, did not, as far as I know, take up arms, but his reports also did not by any means attempt to create any false equivalence between The U.S. and its enemies. You knew exactly whose side Pyle was on.

    He was killed by enemy fire during the Battle of Okinawa.

    Would it have made a difference for his safety or his credibility if he had picked up a rifle at some point and fired back? Not a bit.

  26. avatar Holdfast says:

    ISIS are murderous barbarians.
    Journalists have self anointed themselves as non-combatants. We should ignore their special privileges.

    I’m glad he took the shots.

    Ernie Pyle of WW 2 fame is an example. As is Joseph Galloway, who wrote “We Were Soldiers Once and Young” about the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. Galloway took up arms during the battle. As he should.

    Legally- It’s tied to 2A, I seem to recall All US Male Citizens are Members of the Militia, that should require him to shoot the enemy.

    1. avatar tdiinva (now in Wisconsin} says:

      The Second Amendment has nothing to do with it. The militia does not call itself up. It is a governmental institution that requires at the least the State Governor to call out the militia. The unorganized militia is called up via the draft. Joey Galloway was not drafted. Had he been captured under arms he would have been an unlawful combatant and subject summary execution.

  27. avatar Ralph says:

    If “journalists” and jihadists had a firefight, I’m not sure who I’d root for.

    They’re both enemies, but at least the jihadists are honest about it.

    1. Like watching a game between the 49rs and the Rams.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Eagles and Cowboys.

  28. avatar pod says:

    It doesn’t really look like a combat emplacement from that photo. For all we know, it’s an impromptu range for the soldiers to train at. Look at the two guys standing…if it were combat would they be standing up? I’m not a soldier, nor was I ever one, but something tells me that you shouldn’t be standing around like you are waiting for your Uber to show up in that sort of situation.

    Actually, if he’s just at a range setup and claiming to shoot at ISIS, that’s even worse because he’s being a complete liar.

  29. avatar Anonymous says:

    Soldiers used to respect the journalist and both sides didn’t shoot at them. But that is not the ISIS way. If you are a journalist – make no mistake ISIS will have no problem cutting your head off with a very small knife in a gurgling gory way. Why? Because they are monstrous barbarians and enjoy doing it.

    Here you go:

  30. avatar Anonymous says:

    Soldiers used to respect the journalist and both sides didn’t shoot at them. But that is not the ISIS way. If you are a journalist – make no mistake ISIS will have no problem cutting your head off with a very small knife in a gurgling gory way. Why? Because they are monstrous barbarians and enjoy doing it.

    Google: ISIS beheads Journalist and click on images. There you go.

    1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

      When was this fairy tale time when soldiers respected journalists from the enemy country? They respected Ernie Pyle right into a grave.

      Januarius McGahan was a blatant Bulgarian partisan in his reporting. Undoubtedly the Turks would have slaughtered him in a second if they’d ever gotten hold of him.

  31. avatar Hannibal says:

    “No one, however, has taken the time to ask if Mr. Buttrill was actually shooting at ISIS fighters or, indeed, if he hit any of them.”

    It doesn’t matter- the perception is what matters, and the perception is what he was building (he wasn’t just doing stuff, he was purposely posting him doing stuff). As the article says a few sentences above: “And for good reason: so the enemy doesn’t get to thinking it’s open season on jobbing journos.”

    Aside from that, at some point someone leaves the role of journalist. I’d say shooting at one side qualifies. Claiming to be shooting at one side… also qualifies.

  32. avatar mark s. says:

    ISIS , ISIL , DAESH , the Islamic caliphate , what ever you call them , they don’t get journalist in their sites and say ,
    ” don’t shoot ………………… journalist “. They say , ” I only wish I could burn them alive or cut off their heads while raping them in front of their wife and children whom I will rape later .
    Give me a freaking break , if other ‘ journalist ‘ didn’t make such a big deal about it , no one would have noticed , it’s because it’s THE BLAZE and GLENN BECK , plain and simple , whom they loathe .

  33. avatar Mike Smith says:

    For what it’s worth, this guy was not a “journalist” or even a member of the press, he’s just a researcher who works for a media organization. It’s a distinction that everybody is happy to ignore, but it does matter. He wasn’t walking around with media credentials that were supposed to protect him and then violating their standards of behavior.

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