directly from it and rise in the ranks. On April 24, 2003, a prominent U.S.
cable news reporter named Ashleigh Banﬁeld, who had gotten her fame
covering the World Trade Center bombings in the hours and days
following 9/11, gave a public lecture at Kansas State University, in which
she blasted American journalists for their subjective complicity in
covering the war in Iraq:
There are horrors that were completely left out of this war. So, was this journalism
or was this coverage? There is a grand difference between journalism and coverage,
and getting access does not mean you’re getting the story, it just means you’re
getting one more arm or leg of the story. And that’s what we got, and it was a
glorious, wonderful picture that had a lot of people watching and a lot of advertisers
excited about cable news. But it wasn’t journalism... .
Banﬁeld’s speech prompted a swift statement from an NBC spokeswoman,
who told reporters that: “She and we [NBC] both agreed that she didn’t
intend to demean the work of her colleagues, and she will choose her
words more carefully in the future.” By March 2004, the network
announced that her contract would not be renewed.
A veteran reporter, Peter Arnett, who had covered the ﬁrst Persian Gulf
War in 1990 and 1991 for CNN, and received a Pulitzer Prize while covering
the war in Vietnam for the Associated Press, received the axe from NBC and
MSNBC for granting an interview to Iraqi TV in late March 2003. In his
interview, he said, “Clearly, the American war planners misjudged the deter-
mination of the Iraqi forces. That is why now America is reappraising the
battleﬁeld, delaying the war, maybe a week, and rewriting the war plan.
The ﬁrst war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance; now they are
trying to write another war plan.”
At ﬁrst, Arnett was backed by his network, NBC, which issued a
statement reading, “Peter Arnett and his crew have risked their lives to
bring the American people up-to-date, straightforward information on
what is happening in and around Baghdad. Arnett’s impromptu interview
with Iraqi TV was done as a professional courtesy and was similar to
other interviews he has done with media outlets from around the world.
His remarks were analytical in nature and were not intended to be
anything more.” The controversy did not die down, however, and within
days NBC announced that it was ﬁring Arnett: “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 and MSNBC.”
The dominance of censorship and propaganda is a triumph of authori-
tarian over democratic values. During times of international crisis like the