Why was Peter Arnett fired from NBC news?

From what I’ve seen, all he did was criticize the way the war is going, including saying that the first plan has failed, so Bush will have to try something else.

It may have been overly strong language, since it’s too early for an objective reporter to declare the plan a failure.(If progress is slower than expected, that doesn’t mean failure.)

But why was he fired for saying this?

I don’t like the guy, -but I don’t understand why he was fired for it. The 1st Ammendment still counts for something, even in wartime.

The first amendment doesn’t guarantee employment with NBC.

He broke basic journalistic ethics (he isn’t supposed to be a part of the story), and he exercised poor judgement.

I agree with your first amendment argument - he has every right to his opinions. But if he says or does stupid things, the first amendment doesn’t protect him from the scorn of NBC or the American public.

Basically, he gave “How-To” tips to the Iraqi State-Run Press on the best propaganda techniques. That wasn’t his intention, obviously not.

But, that was the end result.

Out he goes!

It was bad judgement, not malice.

But, it was very bad judgement.

Not to be a dick or anything, :smiley: but…


I saw part of his appearance, and I would’ve kicked his ass off the employment rolls in a nanosecond. He went on Iraqi TV and said, “The US’s first effort has failed” or something very close to that. Not a good way to boost ratings with anyone who “supports the troops” whether they are pro or anit war.

The First Amendment? Arnett has not been censored, jailed, fined, or even spoken to harshly, AFAIK, by any United States governmental body of any kind. “Congress shall make no law…” – U.S. Constitution, First Amendment

Sorry, but that explanation doesn’t hold up, because following it, embedded journalists should be the first to be fired. And sorry, just because some people don’t like it doesn’t make what he has to say stupid. Your argumentation provides Carte Blanche for the control of the media by extremist groups.

Really? I suppose we should start with firing half the troops at the front, then, who have been professing such views for days, now, along with a sizable portion of Pentagon staff who just went on the record criticizing Rumsfeld.

But I guess the people who have bullets flying around their heads don’t really ‘support the troops’ either. Only armchair generals for whom war is a TV show are capable of ‘supporting the troops’.

I have no idea what I wrote that causes these objections.

Your first sentence, I conclude, suggests that embedded journalists are “part of the story”. I don’t believe that (or, at least, I believe that they shouldn’t be, and if they become part of the story, they have broken journalistic ethics).

And I never suggested that what Arnett said was stupid. Saying it on Iraqi TV was stupid.

I completely support an unaffiliated and independent media. I do not expect them to repeat government propaganda. I expect them to report the truth, as they understand it. I also believe that the network (or news organization), not the journalist themselves, gets to decide what that truth is.

So again, I do not understand where your objectives are coming from.

AZC: It could all be nichtubersetzbar (or however you actually spell “untranslatable” in German).

I’m noticing a pattern, it goes like this:

Poster A: I think A.

OliverH: If you think A that means you also think B, warmonger.

Poster A: :confused:

I think he was fired for at least two good reasons:

He made statements so blatantly subjective that he would have had credibility problems as an objective journalist for a long time.

The private business that he worked for made a judgement that he would no longer help their bottom line.

I don’t think it’s an issue of whether or not to keep a dissenting voice in the mix to act as a devil’s advocate – it’s more that they don’t want to keep someone around who will actively decrease their viewership.

Arnett went on Iraqi TV and told them that the US had to reject it’s first war plan because of Iraqi resistance! It’s like he was trying to uplift the Iraqi soldiers with a tribute to their success. Brian Brooks, the assistant dean of the journalism school here at Missouri (a top 5 J-school) stated the issue simply: “reporters should never offer opinions about things and should always stick to the facts.” He goes on to state from his knowledge of Arnett’s career, including having met him in Vietnam when Brooks was an army press officer, that he suspects that Arnett “thinks he knows alot about military tactics and strategy…but as far as I know, he’s never been in the military, so making that kind of call strikes me as off-base.” It’s a simple question of Arnett having made statements that were opinion rather than fact. Not only that, it was opinion on a topic in which he lacks the inside experience to form an opinion with any reasonable basis, even were making opinions his job, which is wasn’t. Furthermore, it was an opinion that seemed to be designed for the purpose of commending the Iraqi soldiers on their success in forcing the US to alter it’s war plans.

So under any standard you want to apply, MSNBC was justified in their action and entitled to take it as a private entity. For the paranoid, preposterous viewpoint, see the remarks of Southern Illinois communications professor Manjuath Pendakur in this article (also including Brooks’ remarks above):


As if hiring a right-wing commentator was a move indicative of some deep political bias. As if the cable news station with the lowest ratings can afford to make a decision on any basis other than getting higher ratings. Though does illuminate a point. Savage is a guy who can make the sort of statement Arnett made, because his job is as a commentator. Arnett is a reporter or correspondant, and so is limited to reporting facts and some very basic analysis only for the purpose of clarifying terms and such to the laymen viewers who aren’t familiar with it. Saying the Iraqi soldiers succeeding in forcing the US to alter it’s war plans goes beyond that into the realm of commentary, which is reserved for commentators, people whom the networks clearly identify as such so as to build a wall between commentary and reporting.