Monday, March 31, 2003

Arnett: "I said over the weekend what we all know about the war."
From the Associated Press (sorry, it came from AOL: Still looking for a source that I can link):
NBC fired journalist Peter Arnett on Monday, saying it was wrong for him to give an interview with state-run Iraqi TV in which he said the American-led coalition's initial plan for the war had failed because of Iraq's resistance. Arnett called the interview a ``misjudgment'' and apologized.
Arnett, on NBC's ``Today'' show on Monday, said he was sorry for his statement but added ``I said over the weekend what we all know about the war.''
``I want to apologize to the American people for clearly making a misjudgment,'' the New Zealand-born Arnett said. He said he would try to leave Baghdad now, joking ``there's a small island in the South Pacific that I've inhabited that I'll try to swim to.''

I see. He wasn't wrong, he just made a "misjudgment" about what to say, to whom. Meaning, "I was on Iraqi television, you weren't supposed to hear that."

No problem, Peter. As long as your reports are branded with your name, so we'll know how much credibility to give them.

I see it also cost him his job with National Geographic.

LATER: Well, there are no shortage of linkable sources.
USA Today - TV networks pull Arnett, Rivera
After signing up with the Mirror, the naturalized U.S. citizen apparently changed his tune. ''I report the truth of what is happening in Baghdad and will not apologize for it,'' Arnett told the newspaper. ''I am still in shock and awe at being fired,'' the New Zealand-born Arnett -- who won a Pulitzer Prize for his Vietnam War coverage for the Associated Press -- wrote under the banner headline ''This war's NOT working.''
Arnett told Iraqi TV that the initial U.S. war plan had failed and that reports from Baghdad about civilian casualties had helped anti-war protesters undermine the Bush administration's strategy.

Well, he's entitled to his opinion. I'm sure he'll be very happy reporting for the Mirror.

If USA Today thinks he's "changed his tune", they weren't listening very closely. He didn't apologize for what he said, he apologized for the furor it inspired. And that's fair enough. I should hope that every reporter in Iraq is able to say things he believes in and stand behind them. Even -- especially! -- if it isn't pleasing to American ears.

It's not like NBC didn't know what they were getting when they hired Peter Arnett.

I might go so far as to say that Arnett has an obligation to let us know where he stands on the issues he covers. Please, Mr Arnett, tell us more. I'd like to know on what information he's based his assessment that the Iraq operation thus far is a "failure".

And if we've reached the point where reporters have to travel in ideologically-complementary pairs, like Hannity and Colmes, well, that's not such a bad thing.

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