NBC and MSNBC Monday fired famed war correspondent Peter Arnett after
Arnett told state-run Iraqi TV that the U.S.-led coalition's initial war plan
had failed and that reports from Baghdad about civilian casualties had helped
antiwar protesters to undermine the Bush administration's strategy.
National Geographic Explorer has also cut its ties with Arnett.
In the interview, as reported by Associated Press and MSNBC, Arnett said he'd been
told by Iraqi friends that Iraqi nationalism and resistance to the Allied forces
was increasing, and that the United States had to reconsider its battle
The first war plan has failed, Arnett said, 'because of Iraqi resistance and
U.S. misjudgment of that resistance. Now they are trying to write another war
National Geographic called Arnett's decision to grant an interview to state-controlled Iraqi TV 'wrong' and said Nat Geo 'did not authorize or have any prior knowledge of Arnett's television interview with Iraqi television, and had we been consulted, would not have allowed it.'
have been run frequently over Iraqi television and, by Monday, they had
spread worldwide, bringing considerable criticism in the media and among U.S.
Arnett himself recognized that he had prompted a 'firestorm.'
Arnett -- who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting for Associated Press
during the Vietnam War and who was the last Western journalist left in Baghdad
during the first Gulf War, when he was with Cable News Network -- faced criticism that he was
anti-Allied forces during the first Gulf War, although he had always maintained
that his reporting was objective.
Following his termination, Arnett gave an interview to Today's Matt Lauer, who himself has been in the war region recently.
Arnett issued a broad apology to networks and to the American people and
told Lauer, 'I'm embarrassed to have questioned the judgment of your company in
hiring me in the first place.'
Although Arnett said his comments reflected 'essentially what
we all know about the war.
There have been delays in implementing policy, there's been surprises,' he
did not retract them, but apologized profusely for the 'firestorm' they've
caused in the United States.
Arnett said it was an impromptu interview, and reporters had 'come to
interview me because I was in the first Gulf War.'
He acknowledged that he gave some 'personal observations and analytical
observations that I don't think are out of line with what experts think.
Clearly, I misjudged the firestorm. I apologize for that.'
Although NBC News initially deemed the interview a 'professional courtesy,'
NBC News president Neal Shapiro said Monday, 'It was wrong for Mr. Arnett to
grant an interview to state-controlled Iraqi TV -- especially at a time of war
-- and it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions in
that interview. Therefore, Peter Arnett will no longer be reporting for NBC News
Arnett noted that numerous other journalists,
including NBC's Tim Russert, had made similar observations, but he added that
he'd been asking tough questions of Iraqi officials regarding suicide bombers, treatment of prisoners and other
issues during his time there.
'My stupid misjudgment was to spend 15 minutes in an interview,' he said.
Arnett said he'd likely be leaving Iraq, and he wasn't sure where he'd be going.
A regretful Arnett said the second Gulf War was 'the biggest story of my
He added, 'I am not antiwar,' although he said he was
'against war in principle.' And Arnett reminded viewers, 'I'm an American, I've
been an American for 25 years.'
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