Monday, March 31, 2003

# Posted 9:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DEFENDING ARNETT: NBC has fired Baghdad correspondent Peter Arnett for giving an unauthorized interview with Iraqi state television. According to the AP:
NBC was angered because Arnett gave the interview Sunday without permission and presented opinion as fact. The network initially backed him, but reversed field after watching a tape of his remarks.

The network said it got "thousands" of e-mails and phone calls protesting Arnett's remarks - a thousand e-mails to MSNBC President Erik Sorenson alone.
You know, the whole point of freedom of speech is that you have it regardless of what you say. It sounds like NBC endorsed Arnett's freedom of speech right up until it found out what he had to say. There's a word for behavior like that: hypocrisy.

Even worse, it sounds like NBC fired Arnett because it didn't have the guts to stand up to its viewers. That doesn't say a lot for the network's integrity. Now, what NBC did is probably legal. But the media cannot continue to function as a guardian of free speech if its own behavior compromises that role.

According to Glenn Reynolds, Arnett had it coming for a lot of reasons. Regardless, I'm glad he decided to give the interview. Journalists are political figures. They should have to defend their views rather than hiding behind a curtain of objectivity.

What Arnett did was pull back that curtain. No surprise he was fired.

(For more on Arnett, click here and here.)
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