And now the most intriguing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
The director general and CEO of Arab TV network Al-Jazeera (search) is now out of a job, this after reports that Saddam Hussein (search) placed Iraqi intelligence agents inside Al-Jazeera to gain favorable news coverage. London's Times says Mohammed Jassem al-Ali has been "sacked" after being accused of collaborating with Saddam's regime. His departure comes after accusations based on documents found in Baghdad that some Al-Jazeera journalists were working for the Iraqi government. Al-Ali denies the charges and an Al-Jazeera spokesman insists his situation has nothing to do with those allegations.
Warning Against Wandering
FOX News correspondent Steve Harrigan (search) reports from Saudi Arabia that the government is now using an Iraqi-style system of minders to monitor Western journalists. He says the Saudi government tells journalists they can go wherever they want, but warns that journalists wandering the country unaccompanied by a minder may be hassled by the ubiquitous Saudi morals police. In addition, he says the use of videophones is now banned in Saudi Arabia and that while the minders are friendly enough, they want to know ahead of time what correspondents will be saying in live reports, something he said he never encountered in Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Two weeks ago today, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd used a doctored version of a comment by President Bush to make it appear that the president had made false claims about progress against Al Qaeda terrorists. What the president said, on May 5, was that Al Qaeda "is slowly, but surely being decimated. Right now about half of all the top Al Qaeda operatives are either jailed or dead. In either case, they're not a problem anymore." Dowd's column left out the part about half the leadership being dead or jailed, thus making it appear the president had claimed the whole Al Qaeda was no longer a problem. Today Dowd finally published the full quote, but with no acknowledgment of the earlier distortion or even any mention of it.
Matter of Months?
Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times reporter Rick Bragg, suspended for allegedly not giving due credit to a stringer last year, now says that, contrary to what the Washington Post reported yesterday, he has no intention of quitting in the next few weeks. Instead, he tells the New York Post, he will take a leave of absence probably this summer.