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Monday, March 31, 2003

Peter Arnett and the TV War

I haven't been commenting on it, but yes, I've been taking in enormous amounts of war coverage. That's really not surprising, given that I watch a lot of news in the first place. While stories of people getting killed are upsetting enough, I was quite bothered by the firing of Peter Arnett by NBC and National Geographic. I heard some of Arnett's comments to Iraqi TV and thought they were inappropriate, but not worth him being fired. It's funny how our right to freedom of speech protects us from wrongful termination, yet as a journalist Arnett lost his job because his bosses felt he lost his objectivity, which is usually thought to be essential for good journalism. Then again, who benefits more from free speech than journalists?

As for my viewing patterns thus far, I still rely on MSNBC for most of my news (I swear Lester Holt works 20 hours a day) but I've come to really enjoy Aaron Brown and General (Ret.) Wesley Clark on CNN's NewsNight. For analysis of all the stories and the search for the "big picture" in a war now famous for embedded reporters, I don't think anyone is doing a better job day in and day out as Aaron Brown and Wesley Clark. Perhaps the only coverage that really compares is Brian Williams and General (Ret.) Wayne Downing in Kuwait City, but MSNBC doesn't seem to feature them as prominently as CNN does Brown and Clark. (The geographic difference in their locations surely has something to do with that.)

There have been a few lighter moments during the coverage, such as Brian Williams getting the hiccups on one of the first nights of coverage. Maybe the best was MSNBC's Col. (Ret.) Ken Allard opening the "Military Minute" by saying "It's 4:00 AM - Baghdad, do you know where your dictator is?" It's nice to find something to laugh at in such serious times.

Peter Arnett news links:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57936-2003Mar31.html
http://www.msnbc.com/news/893115.asp?cp1=1
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/03/0331_030331_arnettfired.html

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