Peter Arnett, whose reporting in Iraq has won him notoriety in two wars,
wasn't out of work long after being fired Monday by NBC networks and National
Only hours after Arnett was fired for an interview he gave Iraqi TV that gave
an unflattering opinion of the Allied war effort so far, Britain's Daily
Mirror hired the famed correspondent. Announcing the hiring, the British
tabloid told readers, "The reporter sacked by American TV for telling the
truth is joining the Daily Mirror."
Arnett -- who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting for the Associated Press in
Vietnam, but who faced criticism in the first Gulf War for alleged reporting that
was unfavorable to the allies then -- was quoted in the newspaper as saying, "I report
the truth of what is happening here in Baghdad, and I will not apologize for it. I
have always admired your newspaper and am proud to be working for it."
On NBC's Today Monday, New Zealand-born Arnett apologized for
appearing on Iraqi state-run television and for the firestorm of criticism it
He seemed especially conciliatory to NBC, which he praised as a great news
organization, and he said he was sorry the networks had cause to question their
judgment in hiring him.
However, he did not retract his actual statements, and he said his assessment of
the Allied war effort and its support, and his perception of
stronger-than-believed Iraqi resistance, were held by many experts.
Although NBC News initially deemed the interview a "professional courtesy,"
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
In his first column for the Mirror Tuesday, Arnett allowed that he was "still in shock and awe at being fired" and discussed what he called the "enormous sensitivity" within the U.S. government to reports coming out from Baghdad.
"They don't want credible news organisations reporting from here because it presents them with enormous problems," Arnett said, although he did not blame the government for his being fired.
Arnett also said, "Don't blame NBC for their decision because they came under great commercial pressure from the outside."
However, he wrote, "Overnight, my successful NBC reporting career was turned to ashes. And why? Because I stated the obvious to Iraqi television -- that the U.S. war timetable has fallen by the wayside. The right-wing media and politicians are looking for any opportunity to be critical of the reporters who are here, whatever their nationality. I made the misjudgment that gave them the opportunity to do so."
Arnett said he would decide Tuesday whether to stay or leave Baghdad.