They're Reporting In for War

Arnett, Kaplan find new news roles as Iraqi war looms

With the likelihood of another war in the Persian Gulf looming, two well-known warhorses have returned to familiar posts. ABC News last week brought back former news executive Rick Kaplan—who left the network in 1997—to run its control room in a three-month deal in anticipation of war.

And famed former CNN war correspondent Peter Arnett, best-known as the American journalist in Baghdad during the first Gulf War, was back in Iraq last week with reports slated to run on MSNBC, via Sunday-night series National Geographic Explorer.

National Geographic last week said it has signed Arnett to an exclusive agreement naming him correspondent for the award-winning series.

Announcing Kaplan's hiring, ABC News President David Westin said in an e-mail that Kaplan has "proved his ability at producing and overseeing live television news coverage. He's eager to get back in the game, and he can add his skill and experience to our exceptional team." Kaplan will report to Westin.

Kaplan's hiring comes only a week after Paul Friedman, ABC's managing editor for news coverage, resigned from the network, although he remains with ABC as a part-time consultant. The network was caught short-handed and unprepared for the space shuttle Columbia tragedy on a Saturday morning earlier this month.

Kaplan, who had taught at Harvard and lectured at numerous universities, left ABC to head CNN for four years.

Both Kaplan and Arnett were distinguished journalists who left CNN scarred by the enormous controversy of the infamous Operation Tailwind report and the network's subsequent disavowal of it in 1998.

Kaplan said he wanted to return to the news business and contacted Westin. He had no particular job in mind but was afraid that, the longer he remained outside the business, the more difficult getting back in would be.

He said he and Westin have not talked about anything beyond the current 90-day deal.

Arnett has returned to Baghdad numerous times for CNN and now for National Geographic. And if the Iraqi government lets him stay, he'll be there for the duration of any conflict and possibly beyond, reporting on the effects of war and filing for MSNBC.