Arnett, Rivera become a story unto themselves

Monday, April 7, 2003 at 1:00am

Last week journalists Peter Arnett and Geraldo Rivera blurred the lines between commentary and reporting. This frequently happens in an age when networks market a Lisa Marie Presley interview as a news special, but it was stunning that two media veterans would make serious blunders in judgment and conduct in the middle of life-and-death situations.

Arnett, a former Pulitzer Prize-winner for his Vietnam War coverage, offended even ardent foes of Bush administration foreign policy by appearing on state-run Iraqi television and declaring that the initial U.S. war plan was a failure. He added that reports from Baghdad about mounting civilian casualties were helping antiwar protesters turn the tide against the president.

NBC first staunchly backed Arnett, saying that his comments were more analytical in nature. But when competitors CNN and FOX News began pounding them for supporting someone who had uttered allegedly traitorous remarks, NBC quickly went into damage control. They not only bounced Arnett from the main network, but from MSNBC as well. National Geographic Explorer, Arnett

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