Monday, December 04, 2006

From Another One of My Favorite Journalists...

NBC's Engel Defends Iraq Correspondents

For those of you not familiar with Richard Engel, he is the bureau chief of NBC Beirut, but his real acclaim is spending more time on the ground than any other reporter in Baghdad. Check back for more to come on this, another amazing reporter and his stories. Thanks to TVNewser for the blurb:)

On Sunday's Reliable Sources, NBC News Middle East bureau chief Richard Engel said his network's decision to call Iraq a "civil war" was "very much driven by what the reports are coming from the ground." Later in the show, Howard Kurtz asked:

KURTZ: Richard Engel, top administration officials, as you well know, have repeatedly criticized correspondents like you for painting an unnecessarily negative picture of what's going on in Iraq, staying in the Green Zone, and all of that. Now that this -- even the private doubts and reservations of the White House and the Pentagon are coming out, do you feel vindicated?

ENGEL: No. It's been very frustrating all along to be at the receiving end of that criticism with acquisitions like we just spend all of our time in the Green Zone.

For the record, neither your reporters, Arwa Damon right now in Baghdad, or almost any of the reporters who cover Iraq do so from the Green Zone, but go out every day either with the U.S. military or driving around the city of Baghdad. And to say that we somehow have been just lazy and picking up bad reports to try to make the American mission in Iraq somehow seem like a failure is inaccurate. It's also, in some degree, dangerous.

I mean, I know reporters, colleagues of mine who have received so much criticism over the last three and a half, four years, that they felt they've had something to prove. And so they put themselves in extraordinarily dangerous situations. And I know one reporter who was kidnapped as a result of it.

So it's not a sense of vindication, but it is good that people are finally starting to finally see that the situation in Iraq is tremendously difficult, and it is not just reporters who are looking for bad -- bad news stories.

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Don't think for me. Don't assume what I want to hear or read. Give me facts. Give me reasons. But not yours. Bring me debate. Enlighten me. Today, accountability is masked behind anonymity; bylines are hidden by zeros and ones. Everyone publishes; everyone is "in the know." Ethics are non-existent. Speculation is king. The truth is masked and a hostage. Empowered by our minds, WE ARE THE FREAKSPEAKERS!


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