Arnett nets online gig

Former CNN anchor attempts recovery in wake of Tailwind blunder

NEW YORK — A month after leaving CNN, Peter Arnett has signed a deal with the little-known ForeignTV.com, a sign that the correspondent may be having trouble landing another network gig.

Arnett, whose reports from Baghdad during the Gulf War helped establish CNN, will provide exclusive interviews with world leaders for the Internet site and will serve as an adviser in setting up bureaus in cities around the world.

Arnett’s April departure from CNN was attributed in part to his involvement in the Operation Tailwind controversy. Arnett anchored the report, which CNN later retracted, that alleged the U.S. military used sarin nerve gas against AWOL members during the Vietnam War. “He’s got to take what’s available to him,” said a well-placed source. “There’s a shrinking market for TV news. This is a way for him to travel and stay in the mainstream.”

Arnett, 63, was a correspondent for CNN for 18 years. The journalist, whose contract was set to expire in 2001, reached an exit agreement with CNN after he went public with charges that the news net was not planning to pick up a July option on his contract. At the time of the Tailwind blowup last summer, Arnett was reprimanded by CNN while producers April Oliver and Jack Smith were fired and senior exec producer Pamela Hill resigned. In the months after Tailwind, Arnett was rarely seen on CNN.

Not getting stock

Internet startups often attract well-known talent by offering stock options, but Arnett is not receiving such a deal from ForeignTV.com.

Fox News Network said last week that it no longer has an interest in signing Arnett. In 1996, Fox News talked to Arnett about joining the web, but the correspondent reupped with CNN before Fox made him an offer.

Arnett, a leading war correspondent for 40 years, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1966 for his coverage of the Vietnam War. Arnett has also been honored with a George Foster Peabody Award, a George Polk Memorial Award and an Overseas Press Club Award.