The p.r. problems of Peter Arnett, CNN’s Baghdad reporter, seemed to mount last week. Citing a “grave disservice to the allied cause,” several U.S. conservative groups called on CNN to stop airing Arnett’s broadcasts from Iraq.
Arnett’s censored reports out of Baghdad already have been criticized in Congress, where 39 lawmakers recently chided the net for allowing itself to become a “propaganda outlet” for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Also, Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) had added fuel to the fire by publicly claiming Arnett was acting as an Iraqi “sympathizer.”
Now, in the latest anti-Arnett maneuver, the recently formed “Victory Committee” – an umbrella group of D.C.-based prodefense and media organizations led Accuracy in Media chairman Reed Irvine – also have charged that Arnett’s reports have been nothing more than Iraqi propaganda.
Irvine said it is “criminal” that CNN was allowed to set up its own satellite uplink capabilities from Iraq after American bomber pilots destroyed most of Baghdad’s transmission facilities.
The Victory Committee’s press confab was timed to coincide with an ad campaign in which the group will solicit donations ranging from $15 to $5,000.
Irvine said the ad already has appeared in some publications. It features a caricature of Arnett sitting on the lap of Hussein under the heading “U.S. Voice Of Baghdad.” The blurb urges readers to “put an end to this outrage” by writing CNN founder Ted Turner.