American Pie 19.09.02

Many media executives here fear that if the US goes to war with Iraq the restrictions  will be as tough as during the Gulf War. Several journalists’ organisations are getting ready for a fight for more access to the military. Recently there have been several meetings between Pentagon officials and Washington bureau chiefs, where the Pentagon always uses the claim that security is paramount. Battlefield access is the main stumbling block. There is growing concern that if hostilities break out the media will again be limited to handouts

 and post-battle briefings. In Vietnam, as during the Second World War, correspondents accompanied soldiers in the field. But many military experts believe such unrestricted reportingÊcontributed to the fall of South Vietnam. Some have even blamed reporters such as Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Peter ArnettÊfor helping to lose wars.ÊAfter the Gulf WarÊthe Pentagon promised reporters "full access to future military engagements.

But that didn’t happen in Afghanistan. The Pentagon now claims wars are different today and TV can cover battles as they happen, sometimes to the advantage of the enemy.ÊRecent surveys show that almost half the US public feels the media is too aggressive in its pursuit of news – even on the battlefield.

 

For sale: the Florida headquarters ofÊAmerican Media, publishers of the National Enquirer and other US tabloids, which a year ago was the target of the first anthrax attack.ÊIt’s for sale for $1 – less than a copy of the Enquirer.ÊThe offices in Boca Raton are still sealed off because of fears that anthrax spores may still linger there.ÊExecutives of American Media would like to get rid of it and have suggested the US Government might like to take it off its hands, perhaps to use it as a training lab for chemical engineers or investigators. So far, Washington has made no offers.

 

Back in the Fifties The New York Times often corrected the syntax of President Eisenhower, noted for grammatical errors in his speeches.ÊNow people are wondering whether the speeches and statements of President Bush, also noted for malapropisms and flubs, should be corrected or cleaned up before going into the official record? Reporters covering the White House have mixed feelings. Most agree  that "ers" and "ums" could be legitimately deleted from official transcripts.ÊBut CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller said: "There should be no clean-up. The transcripts should be verbatim texts of what the President says."ÊBut what about when President Bush called on Americans to volunteer for 4,000 years when he meant 4,000 hours?ÊThen there was the time he said Saddam Hussein had "crawfished" out of all the agreements he had made.ÊThis sent the newsmen rushing to their dictionaries, only to discover the President was right – "crawfishing" is Old American for retreating or backing out.

 

That famous picture of three firemen hoisting the US flag in the World Trade Center wreckage has so far raised more than $500,000 (£324,000) for charity, mostly from firms wanting to use it on their products. It’s been licensed for use on more than 50 items, including posters, T-shirts, lapel pins and a postage stamp. It was taken by Tom Franklin, Hackensack Record staff photographer. He said he had been staggered by the number of times his picture had been seen around the world.

It earned him no extra,but it got him invited to the White House.

 

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