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IRAQ: No Baghdad TV and US news

Cameron Sawyer asks the question which has puzzled many people: "Why is Iraqi TV still on the air after two weeks of fighting? I would have thought that would have been nearly the first priority. Surely it is not hard to find the transmitters; we have all kinds of equipment to locate precisely radar. In order to avoid civilian casualties we could simply announce the day before that during the evening this or that transmitter or broadcast facility; a technique used, I believe, in Serbia. The Iraqis seem to be fighting the propaganda war quite well, and I have a strong suspicion that they are even blowing up their own markets for propaganda value. Why do we leave this most powerful propaganda weapon in their hands?" RH: In addition, we can watch these broadcasts here.

What about the comparable US effort? The Washington Post (4&2/03) reports that journalists are unhappy with US war briefings Many journalists at the main US headquarters for the Iraq war say they get plenty of spin but little news. In Doha, held on a slick US$200,000 set designed by a Hollywood consultant, each briefing so far has begun with a bullish statement about the state of the war and videos depicting precision bombing by the US-led forces. Questions on reports from the battlefield by senior US officers of concerns about stretched supply lines, troop numbers and Iraqi resistance have either gone unanswered or been contradicted in Doha by more junior officers. A reporter for New York magazine, frustrated at the lack of light being shed on the war, asked this question to applause from colleagues: "Why should we stay? What's the value to us for what we learn at this million-dollar press center?" RH: $200,000, $1 million? Costs certainly are rising. What does "bullish" mean?

Ronald Hilton - 4/2/03