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04/04/2003 Archived Entry: "Peter Arnett"

On the Political Front:

The good news....Peter Arnett is back, albeit in "reduced" form. He was hired almost immediately by the British newspaper, the Daily Mirror but he is also back on the air, broadcasting from Baghdad...tho' what are the odds Americans will see him? The private Belgian network VTN proudly announced it will have daily reports from "one of the world's most famous reporters" until the end of the war. A state-run television channel in Greece also said Arnett would soon be providing nightly dispatches for it, too. I request assistance from readers. I have a satellite dish and a shortwave radio, both of which I use to keep "informed." Does anyone know where/how I can catch Arnett? Is he being "aired" on the Internet as well?

The bad news... The man has gone through unmitigated and utterly undeserved sh*t. The truth shall set you free. Just look what it did for Peter Arnett. The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist gave a candid interview on Iraqi TV in which he told more of the truth about the invasion of Iraq than I'd heard in all the other reporting put together. As a consequence, he was fired by National Geographic, NBC and MSNBC. He has been publicly called a criminal and at least one Senator wants to try him for treason. As Robert Jensen wrote in CounterPunch, "Peter Arnett Paid a High Price for Being Truly Neutral." But the message was delivered to each and every journalist "working the war." Step one inch away from the party line and we'll ruin your career. As David Vest writes in that same e-periodical, "Can you feel the silence?" Vest asks, "How many voices representing anything resembling your own point of view have you heard on network or cable TV? As someone said days ago, even NPR has become National Pentagon Radio." Arab News stated the situation succintly, "No freedom of speech for Peter Arnett."

As so the disinformation campaign of the US continues with even less hindrance from journalists than before, allowing military and political officials to make *amazing* statements. Like declaring a victory in Iraq! They have secured next to no towns or cities in the South, just bypassed most of them; they have secured nothing in the North, not even a promise from the Turks to stay out; they have not "acquired" Baghdad; they have no indication that Saddam is dead or his regime has toppled. But they are victorious! Why? Because Saddam is being declared "irrevelant." Is the war now about relevancy? And no journalist -- post-Arnett -- has the courage to ask tough questions, like "Where are the weapons of mass destruction upon which Bush based this invasion of a sovereign nation?"

I highly recommend the following article from Asia Times, for which I thank Lee K. It teaches readers common sense methods of how to detect disinformation in a news story. I quote: "Take the article "Basra Shiites Stage Revolt, Attack Government Troops", published on March 26 in The Wall Street Journal Europe. Using its example, we will try to arm readers with basic principles of disinformation analysis that hopefully will allow them in the future to detect deception.

"The title of the article sounds quite definitive. The article starts, however, with the mush less certain "Military officials said the Shiite population of Basra ... appeared to be rising". "Military officials" and "appeared to be" should immediately raise a red flag for a reader, especially given a mismatch with such a definitive title. Why "officials"? Were they speaking in a chorus? Or was each one providing a complementary piece of information? A genuine report certainly would tell us this and also name the officials or at least say why they cannot be identified. Why "appears to be"? There are always specific reasons why something "appears to be". For example, information about the uprising may be uncertain because it was supplied by an Iraqi defector who was not considered trustworthy and has not been confirmed from other sources. Again, every professional reporter understands that his job is to provide such details and it is exactly such details that make his reporting valuable, interesting, and memorable. If such all-important details are missing, this is a sure sign to suspect intentional disinformation." The article continues to offer sage advise on what to look for re: disinformation.

Meanwhile, for a smile -- and I always try to include at least one per blog -- these are the ten least likely comments you will hear on the air. #10 is: "Dick Cheney: I wonder what Dan Quayle would do if he were in my shoes?"

Best to all,

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