[thechat] reporter fired for reporting

Ken Kogler ken.kogler at curf.edu
Mon Mar 31 15:20:02 CST 2003

>> Are you saying that because
>> embedded reporters are subject to military censorship, that Peter
>> Arnett is correct in suggesting that the Iraqi "minders" are fully
>> supportive of a free press and, by implication, that "we're being fed
>> BS" when other western journalists describe Iraq's interference with
>> their desire and ability to interview civilians?
> No, what I meant to mean was that Arnett is a reporter. It's his job
> to observe, relate what he observes and analyze things. His job is
> not to help the US invasion be successful: but that was exactly why
> he was fired: because his reporting "undermin[ed] the Bush
> administration's strategy."
> He was fired because he exercised his First Amendment rights. If he
> would have been fired because he distorted facts, that would be
> another matter. This is a textbook example of the Twain quote,
> "Freedom of the press is limited to those who own presses."

While I agree with Twain, and with you on other points, I don't agree
with your appication of his quote here... This is not a free press
issue. Arnett was fired because he violated the terms of his employment.
Plain and simple.

If a reporter gets a job at McDonalds, then reports on CNN that there's
rats in the kitchen and the boss is an idiot, you can be sure McDonalds
will fire him. Doesn't mean that the reporter had his rights violated,
even though he's just reporting facts -- it just means he violated the
terms of his employment.

Arnett was embedded by choice into this thing, with the terms of his
employment defined by the military. The biggest thing we've been hearing
is that reporters aren't allowed to broadcast location-specific data,
but I would imagine that there are other restrictions placed on them,
like "don't go on the enemy's TV station and say your government is a
bunch of morons".

At least that's how I'm reading the situation.


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