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Arnett, stupid. NBC, stupider.(26 posts)

Arnett, stupid. NBC, stupider.czardonic
Mar 31, 2003 11:36 AM
". . .it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions in that interview."

I can buy firing him for expressing views contrary to his NBC's explicit policy of reporting what the U.S. Government wants the people to hear, when they want the people to hear it. Fine. They are a business, they can't do their job if their "embeds" are sent home or they lose their seat in the courts of Bush, Cheney and Rummy.

However, it is one thing to state that he didn't have the right to express an opinion that could be confused with that of NBC. That is true. It is quite another to state that "especially at a time of war", he has no right to express a "personal" opinion or observation, period.

I expect that from the self appointed anti-crimethink stasi that are bravely protecting the homefront from diversity of opinion. But when it comes from a pillar of the "fourth estate", from the ultimate check to Government excess, everyone should be concerned.

I'm sure there are NBC apologists who will insist that NBC has every right to censor its employees, especially when they cross the line the way that Arnett did. Maybe. But make no mistake about their motive. It has nothing to do with principle, loyalty to the United States or detest for Saddam Hussein. NBC is throwing the principle (if not the practice) of freedom of expression to the lions for profits, period. Then again, maybe that is what patriotism has become.
so he can go express himself on someone else's dime nmDougSloan
Mar 31, 2003 11:42 AM
Not according to NBC.czardonic
Mar 31, 2003 11:56 AM
Once again, according to NBC "it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions in that interview."

Again, they have every right to fire him for expressing controversial view "on their dime". They should have done so, for that reason, and left it at that. But they crossed a line themselves when they declared it "wrong" to express personal views in general.
He's always on their dime...TJeanloz
Mar 31, 2003 12:00 PM
As long as Arnett is a representative of NBC, he is on their dime 24/7 -- can Ari Fleischer make statements contrary to the White House line when he's not giving press conferences? No. These are public, all-consuming jobs, where personal views need to be set aside, because they could easily be confused as official views.
Except ...OldEdScott
Mar 31, 2003 12:06 PM
(A)Flacks like Ari are hired specifically to parrot an official line. I know, I've been one.

(B) Reporters like Arnett are hired to OBSERVE and REPORT, independent of flacks and official lines. I know, I've been one of them too.

(C) Arnett, as I understand his arrangement with NBC, is not an employee. He just happens to be one of the few reporters left in Baghdad, and they're picking up his stuff, presumably on a contract or freelance basis. He's notan NBC representative 24/7.

D) Regardless of all this, NBC certainly has the right to can him for any reason or no reason or just because his hair looks silly. It makes them look a little gutless, but then I don't expect a lot of guts from broadcast journalism anyway.
Well then he crossed a boundary without permissionStarliner
Mar 31, 2003 8:42 PM
i Reporters like Arnett are hired to OBSERVE and REPORT, independent of flacks and official lines.

Correct. Arnett's arrogance caused him to go beyond his responsibility of observing and reporting. He chose to publicly voice a personal opinion laced with his own judgement in the wrong forum at the wrong time. Had he been operating on his own (a la Sean Penn) it could have been written off as simply irresponsible and selfish. But because he was on NBC's payroll at the time, he earned his pink slip the moment the words passed by his lips.
Okay, third time. I don't dispute their right to fire him.czardonic
Mar 31, 2003 12:11 PM
I object to their ham-handed condemnation of unpolular speech, period. If they had said that he had no right to express his personal views while representing their network, I would have to agree. But to say that, essentially, a personal view that is critical of the war is "wrong", period, is irresponsibly broad.
They said:TJeanloz
Mar 31, 2003 12:17 PM
". . .it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions in that interview."

Which I would interpret as: "it is wrong for NBC news correspondents to discuss their personal views on the air (any air), because we would like our reporters to remain consistently balanced and not publically show bias at any time."

I don't think they were saying: "it's wrong for people [ie. Arnett] to express their personal views."; I think they were saying: "it's wrong for reporters to publically express their personal views".

We complain when companies say things that sound like they were written by lawyers, and then complain when they say things that aren't complete and all-encompassing.
Shouldn't require interpretation or faith in NBC's. . .czardonic
Mar 31, 2003 12:26 PM
. . .commitement to unbiased, balanced reporting.

I see your point. Mine is simply that their departure from the usual legalistic precision reserved for such a public dismissal smacks of craven pandering.
No doubt they're pandering...but they're not FoxNews, yet (nm)TJeanloz
Mar 31, 2003 12:29 PM
With Savage Nation, its a close call.czardonic
Mar 31, 2003 12:36 PM
But it is true. They are destined to be the Democratic Party of the news networks -- perpetually trying to win viewers by out-Foxing Fox News (and failing).
Mar 31, 2003 1:03 PM
"I think they were saying: "it's wrong for reporters to publically express their personal views"."

Once a person makes the decision to become a reporter, they should forfeit their right to publically express their opinion. If they aren't willing to give up this right, they should become a columnist.
If news organizations want the public to believe the stories are accurate and non-bias, they have to believe the reporters are non-bias.

When a reporter receives infomation from a source, they have to take into consideration the source's personal views and motives. These factors may affect the accuracy of the information.

When reporter start airing their personal opinions, the public now has to take the reporters' personal views into consideration when they read the story. The media already has a problem with the public thinking they are bias. Lots of this is due to what the public reads into stories. But once we know the personal opinions of reporters, we have a solid reason to believe they're bias.
NBC has every right to censor its reporters,TJeanloz
Mar 31, 2003 11:46 AM
I really don't care about the NBC and Peter Arnett flap, but I do think that NBC [and any company, for that matter] has a fair argument for being able to censor what its employees say. NBC stands to lose a lot if an employee says things that may damage the employee's reputation; the network has invested in having that reporter there, and the network should have some assurance that it's investment won't be impaired. It's that same with pro athletes, who can't say or do things that might embarrass their sponsors.
Agree. See above. (nm)czardonic
Mar 31, 2003 11:57 AM
What's the beef? Is is what he said, or theOldEdScott
Mar 31, 2003 12:01 PM
fact that he said it on Iraqi state TV? I'm at a loss to see anything he said that was demonstrably untrue. They were observations raised by many right here in this forum.

At some length, reporters from Walter Cronkite to Paul Harvey eventually questioned the war in Vietnam, and no one questioned their patriotism or called for their scalp. (Well, maybe Dick Cheney did, wherever he was at the time. He seems a prickly sort).

I honestly don't get why everyone is so exercised about this. Geraldo blabbing about troop movements seems far, far more egregious.
When people are this agitated about criticism. . .czardonic
Mar 31, 2003 12:16 PM
. . .you really have to wonder about their own confidence in (or even honesty about) their views and their ability to recognize and adjust to mistakes.
That was weird timing.bnlkid
Mar 31, 2003 12:18 PM
It looks like we posted basically the same thing. It's amazing how when people hear something they don't want to hear, they immediately discount it as false. Even though he is in the heart of Baghdad and we are 5,000 miles away.
Comparing apples to orangesCaptain Morgan
Mar 31, 2003 12:29 PM
It is difficult to compare the Geraldo situation to Arnett's. I guess to the extent that Iraq 1) could decipher a stick drawn map in the desert sand, as well as 2) have the military capability to confront the U.S., it could be more egregious. However, I doubt Iraq garnered any valuable information from his stupidity (although I did not see the tape).

Arnett's comments served to motivate the enemy. I saw his comments -- he made it sound like most of America was against this war, and he took credit for this anti-war faction. He did not mention the fact that 70%+ are for it. He also made it sound like our war plan wasn't working and hence Iraq was winning. He failed to mention that we have lost only a few dozen men (in combat) compared to tens of thousands of Iraqis.

Hypothetically, could a motivational speaker, for instance Tony Robbins, go over to Iraq and provide a speech to motivate their war effort, and claim that it was his right to free speech? It could be argued that this is what Arnett has done. While maybe not criminal, Arnett's comments have the potential in theory to kill Americans as much as Geraldo's. Of course, we can never know for sure.
Wake up and get realStarliner
Mar 31, 2003 9:07 PM
Geraldo's statements were based upon stupidity. Arnett's statements were based upon arrogant selfishness.

The fallout from Geraldo's statement would be short term and can be averted by being on heightened alert status and by changing plans. The fallout from Arnett's statements could potentially be long term and therefore would cost many more lives on both sides.

War has already started Ed whether we like it or not. Let's not encourage Saddam's thugs to extend things. Trust me, the end of the bloody war is not going to be the end of Bush's problems. The short term goal is now to end the bloodshed and then move on the the next level where there's going to be a lot to bicker about. But at least it will be done with some diplomacy, which is very much absent now.
What did he say that was wrong?bnlkid
Mar 31, 2003 12:16 PM
I can't seem to find a transcript of the interview, and all the news outlets quote him as saying the "war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another war plan. Clearly, the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces." ...
"Clearly, this is a city that is disciplined, the population is responsive to the government's requirements of discipline," and "Iraqi friends tell me there is a growing sense of nationalism and resistance to what the United States and Britain [are] doing."

These quotes are from CNN's report. NBC initially stood by him and his report, then did an about face. I agree that NBC can sensor their reporters if they feel it would hurt their bottom line, but I personally think Arnett's error was in granting an interview with Iraqi TV, not in what was said. He is/was one of the last western reporters in Baghdad. He worked on a daily basis with the Iraqi people, so for him to state the sentiments of the Iraqi people, not the Iraqi regime, is an important piece of information.

So, if you want to condemn him for giving the interview to the propaganda machine for Iraqi TV, I can understand that, but to condemn him for his views and thoughts on how the war is going from the Baghdad perspective is absurd. I think his view would be important for the US to understand, not under estimate, what we are getting into with the Iraqi people in Baghdad.
he showed bad judgmentDougSloan
Mar 31, 2003 1:25 PM
First of all, they can't fire someone they never hired. I don't know his exact employment status, but I don't know how you "fire" a freelancer. You either pay them for their contributions or you don't. If they paid for his travel and accomodations there, then they they have the right to control what he says.

Regardless of nitpicking the truth or falsity of what he said, I think it showed bad judgment, both in granting the interview in the first place, and the content. I have to ask myself, why in the heck would he be doing this? It's certainly not serving the best interests NBC or America, at least America's war campaign.

I'd be the first to say he can go anywhere and say anything he wants, but considering the business he's in, and the employer he works for, it showed bad judgment.

Ever consider....ClydeTri
Mar 31, 2003 2:34 PM
that maybe Arnett just really doesnt like the US? He trashed the US in Gulf War I, then he did the libelous nerve gas story on CNN that got him fired....I just think he has a dislike of the US>..
we are not allowed to say thatDougSloan
Mar 31, 2003 2:45 PM
Calling anyone "anti-American", no matter what they do or say, just isn't tolerated; didn't you get the memo?

Free Speach comes with responsibilityAlpedhuez55
Mar 31, 2003 1:16 PM
NBC has every right to fire him. If has an adverse effect on their ratings if one of their reporters is cheerleading for the Iraqis. They did not want to fire him at first but there was a lot of outcry. NBC made this decision because of ratings and money, not about patriotism.

It also comes to to the effect of responsible journalism. How can anyone trust a report Arnett makes after these statements? It points out the bias in their network. All of NBC News will lose credibility as well.

As we discussed in threads about Martin Sheen and others, we have freedom of speach here. You have the right to say things that can offend a lot of people. There may be consiquiences for what you say. Arnett is learning that now just like Sheen did last month.

Mike Y.
yes; and "a job" --- comes with responsibility nmDougSloan
Mar 31, 2003 1:42 PM
Why was Arnett in Baghdad?moneyman
Mar 31, 2003 3:00 PM
Because someone (NBC) was paying him, not because of his journalistic responsibilities. If he had to go it on his own, with no possibility of a paycheck, it is unlikely he would have been there. The reason NBC paid him was to get higher ratings so they could sell more air-time at higher rates. The purpose of a TV station is to provide a medium for the sale of advertising. NBC News - and Arnett - just happen to be the attraction.

NBC exists for profits. No more, no less. If you believe otherwise, you are merely fooling yourself.