- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

If Michael Gargiulo had his druthers, television viewers watching the weekend's coverage of the war with Iraq would have seen him not NBC News reporter David Bloom cruising around on a tank as it swept across the desert.
Instead, Mr. Gargiulo, morning news anchor for WTTG-TV (Channel 5), finds himself reporting on the war from the all-too-comfortable confines of the Fox affiliate's Wisconsin Avenue NW studios.
"I won't lie to you. When I see Bloom riding on a tank or [Fox News Channel reporter] Rick Levanthal with the Marines, I think how great it would be to be there," Mr. Gargiulo said.
He isn't the only local reporter feeling frustrated. None of the Washington-area television stations dispatched reporters to the Middle East to cover the war, although all-news radio station WTOP (1500 AM and 107.7 FM) sent national security correspondent Chas. Henry to Qatar.
A few weeks before the war began, Mr. Gargiulo tried to get himself embedded with the troops, but it didn't pan out. Now he is working overtime to ensure one of the biggest stories of his lifetime doesn't pass him by.
He has clocked an impressive amount of airtime in the week since the war broke out.
Flip on the TV set between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. these days and you'll see him manning the WTTG anchor desk. He also co-anchors the station's expanded noon newscast, and he delivers daily reports on the war during the 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts.
"We've been trying to come up with interesting aspects of the story that are slipping through the cracks," Mr. Gargiulo said. On a recent evening, for example, he gave viewers a tutorial on telling the difference between American and British forces, based on their equipment and uniforms.
Mr. Gargiulo has emerged as the star of WTTG's ambitious war coverage. The station has assigned most of its reporters to the story, and it is supplementing its own coverage with feeds from Fox News Channel.
News Corp. owns the Fox network, Fox News Channel, WTTG and the local UPN affiliate, WDCA-TV (Channel 20).
"Michael's knowledge of the military is astounding. He's doing a great job," said Katherine Green, WTTG's vice president and news director.
Mr. Gargiulo's fascination with the military began when he was 10 and started collecting the 96-volume "Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of World War II." He bought a new volume each week (cost: $1 apiece) from the newsstand in his New York City neighborhood.
He says he sometimes goes a little overboard with his war reports. When that happens, Alicia Woodard, his producer, reins him in.
"We'll be looking at a piece of tape and I'll say, 'That's an Apache Long Bow,' and she'll say, 'I think saying helicopter will suffice.'"
Mr. Gargiulo began his career in 1984 at a station in Huntington, W.Va., the nation's 61st-largest television market. He joined WTTG in 2000 as Lark McCarthy's co-anchor on "Fox 5 Morning News," where his affable demeanor made him a viewer favorite.
He hopes to make it to Iraq if the Pentagon sends a second wave of embedded reporters to the war zone. Until then, he is balancing his demanding schedule with a hectic home life.
His wife, Shannon, a producer in Fox News Channel's Washington bureau, also is working overtime. Mr. Gargiulo's parents came in from New York last weekend to help care for the couple's 2-year-old son, Andrew.
"I try to keep it in perspective. I think I'm serving a purpose here, but I'd still love to go over there and cover this thing firsthand."
Questions? Comments? Tips? Call Chris Baker at 202/636-3139 or send an e-mail to cbaker@washingtontimes.com.

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