Thursday, May 13, 2004

"Tourists Looking Through Telescopes"

That's how a reporter with the British newspaper The Spectator describes the tv reporters in Iraq.
Iraq is so dangerous now that hardly any television journalists venture out of the Al-Hamra or the Palestine Hotel, where lager and post-barbecue spliffs help relieve the tension of being in a war zone. There are insurance problems and the brooding, ex-SAS bodyguards forbid any excursions. The dirty little secret is that the endless ‘stand-ups’ you see on your screens are based on no reporting at all. Into this journalistic vacuum it is all too easy for the prejudices of the press corps — tourists looking through telescopes — to flow more freely than ever and the resulting reports to be distorted and incomplete
And what are those prejudices you ask. While sitting around the pool he has a discussion with a US reporter.
Not only had she ‘known’ the Iraq war would fail but she considered it essential that it did so because this would ensure that the ‘evil’ George W. Bush would no longer be running her country. Her editors back on the East Coast were giggling, she said, over what a disaster Iraq had turned out to be. ‘Lots of us talk about how awful it would be if this worked out.’

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