HOME OF THE FREE: ARNETT JOINS MIRROR|
Apr 1 2003
THE reporter sacked by American TV for telling the truth about the war is joining the Daily Mirror.
Veteran newsman Peter Arnett was axed by NBC yesterday accused of being a Saddam stooge. He told state-run Iraqi TV the conflict was not going to plan because of fierce resistance and said his Baghdad reports "help those who oppose war".
He joins the Mirror on the day it was revealed that 8,700 bombs have rained down on Iraq in 12 days, including 3,000 missiles over the weekend.
OUTSPOKEN: Live from Baghdad
After his sacking, Pulitzer Prize winner Arnett said: "I report the truth of what is happening here in Baghdad and will not apologise for it. I have always admired your newspaper and am proud to be working for it."
The New Zealand-born journalist was vilified across the US for an interview in which he said: "The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another war plan. Clearly, thewar planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces. In my TV commentaries I'd tell the Americans about the Iraqi forces and their willingness to fight.
"President Bush says he is concerned about the Iraqi people. But if Iraqi people are dying in numbers, then American policy will be challenged very strongly."
Arnett, 68, added that there was growing opposition about the conduct of the war.
He said: "Our reports about civilian casualties here, about the resistance of the Iraqi forces, are going back to the US. It helps those who oppose the war when you challenge the policy."
On Sunday, NBC praised the reporter for risking his life to deliver news from Baghdad.
The station said of the Iraqi TV interview: "He answered their questions out of professional courtesy. He saw it as purely analysis."
But the furious White House said Arnett spoke from "a point of complete ignorance".
They day after backing him, NBC cut him loose.
Yesterday Arnett said on NBC: "I want to apologise to the American people. It was clearly a misjudgment talking to Iraqi TV.
"I'm not anti-war. I said what we all know about this war. But I've created a firestorm and for that I'm sorry."
Asked about his future, he joked: "There's a small island in the South Pacific I'll try to swim to. I'll leave."
Arnett was one of the few TV journalists in Baghdad. He said: "The Iraqis let me stay because they see me as a fellow warrior. They know I might not agree with them. But I've got their respect."
The reporter, the first Western journalist to interview Osama bin Laden and the last to interview Saddam Hussein, was accused of peddling pro-Iraqi propaganda while covering the 1991 Gulf War.
But he gained much of his prominence for reporting the last conflict with Iraq for CNN.
His Pulitzer Prize came for reporting in Vietnam in 1966 for the Associated Press.
THIS WAR IS NOT WORKING