NBC fires Peter Arnett over Iraqi TV
WASHINGTON - American television network NBC
said on Monday it had severed its relations with veteran
reporter Peter Arnett after he told Iraqi television that the
U.S. war plan against Saddam Hussein had failed.
"Peter Arnett will no longer be reporting for
NBC News and MSNBC," NBC said in a joint statement with
National Geographic, for whom the Pulitzer prize-winning
reporter was also working.
"I said in that interview essentially what we
all know about the war, that there have been delays in
implementing policy, there have been surprises," Arnett told
NBC's Today show.
"But clearly by giving that interview I created
a firestorm in the United States and for that I am truly
sorry," added Arnett, widely known for his dramatic live
reports during the bombing of Baghdad on the opening days of
the 1991 Gulf War.
"My stupid misjudgment was to spend fifteen
minutes in an impromptu interview with Iraqi television," he
"It was wrong for Mr. Arnett to grant an
interview with state-controlled Iraqi TV, especially at a time
of war and it was wrong for him to discuss his personal
observations and opinions," NBC said in a statement.
"His remarks were analytical in nature and were
not intended to be anything more," the network said.
In 1998, Arnett was fired from CNN after the
Pentagon pressured the news channel over a documentary in
which Arnett alleged that U.S. commandos had used sarin gas on
American troops who had defected to Laos during the Vietnam
war. He disavowed the story after his producers were also
Arnett told the Iraqi television that American
war planners had underestimated the determination of Iraqi
troops to fight U.S. and British troops and that the Pentagon
seemed to be amending its original strategy.
"Now America is reappraising the battlefield,
delaying the war, maybe a week and rewriting the war plan,"
Arnett said in excerpts of the interview aired on U.S.
networks. "The first plan has failed because of Iraqi
resistance. Now they are trying to write another plan."
He added there was a "growing challenge to
President Bush about the conduct of the war and also
opposition to the war."
That view echoed similar comments in many U.S.
media after the rapid advance of U.S. forces through southern
Iraq slowed south of Baghdad amid disruptive attacks on its
long supply lines persistent resistance, particularly in the
Arnett's remarks were received with anger by the
administration in Washington. One White House source said they
were based on "a position of complete ignorance."
Arnett, while apologetic on NBC, said he has
granted many interviews in the past and that his remarks were
not "out of line with what experts think."
"Maybe some people think I'm insane, but I'm not
anti-military," he added. "This is the biggest story of my
Asked what the future held for him, Arnett said:
"There's a small island, inhabited in the South Pacific that I
will try to swim to."
"I'll leave, I'm embarrassed," he