John Lee Anderson reports from Baghdad for The New Yorker on the situation on the ground. He sets a vivid scene of a city under siege, but the most telling bit is this:
The warheads that crashed into the upper floors of the Information Ministry, which was also the headquarters of the foreign press center, made a mess of the satellite dishes and antennas on the roof, blew out most of the windows, and shredded much of the building’s interior. It was destruction that had been foretold. For several days, journalists had been warned by their organizations back home to stay away from the place because it was on the Pentagon’s target list. When a reporter asked the Information Minister, Muhammad Said Al Sahaf, how the ministry would continue to function, he replied, bluntly, “You are the ministry of information.”
So Baghdad Bob can tell the truth when it suits him. And it is true. By transmitting the absurdities and lies of Sahaf, the journalists prop up the regime so that anyone in Iraq who can see the broadcasts—and the Arab street in other countries—get the false impression that the reality of the war lies somewhere in between what the US press is reporting and what Sahaf says. And they’re probably more likely to believe Sahaf. The foreign press in Baghdad have become the means by which Saddam’s propaganda gets out, props up the regime in the eyes of his people, and encourages Muslims to flock to Iraq to join the “glorious” battle against the “oppressors.”
Yes, the ridiculous claims of Baghdad Bob are entertaining for us in the West, but they are also doing damage. It’s time to cancel his show. The Coalition should take him off the air. I would say the media should do the responsible thing and stop airing his lies, but that’s as likely to happen as seeing Saddam surrender.