News Reports Debut on Iraqi TV

And now the most interesting two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:

FOX Fans: Missed the Grapevine? Watch it in the Screening Room!

Baghdad Broadcasts
Nightly U.S. news reports debuting this week on what once was Iraqi TV will include all of the major networks' evening newscasts, plus two others: The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and this broadcast from FOX News. CNN, however, has declined to allow its programming to be part of the package apparently because CNN does not consider itself a U.S. news network. A spokeswoman told the Washington Post it is inappropriate for her network to participate in the U.S. government-sponsored broadcasts because CNN is "an independent, global news organization."

Seducing Saddam?
Meanwhile, veteran foreign correspondent Peter Collins, who did a stint for CNN in Iraq, says it was no surprise to him when a top CNN executive admitted last Friday that he had withheld for years what he knew about Iraqi atrocities to protect CNN personnel and access in Baghdad. Collins wrote in today's Washington Times that while he was working for CNN in Baghdad in 1993, he took part in meetings in which top CNN executives offered Saddam Hussein a full hour with no commercial interruptions for an interview timed to coincide with the inauguration of President Clinton. Collins said the tone and content of CNN's behavior in these meetings was  "virtually groveling." And he says one day he was ordered to read on the air CNN President Tom Johnson's notes, which simply summarized talking points from the Iraqi information minister. Collins said there was no time to add any context, so he simply read them, and was later criticized by Johnson for seeming "a little flat."

Too Good To Be True
And remember Eric Walderman, the British marine we told you about three weeks ago who was shot four times in the head by Iraqi fighters but his helmet's Kevlar shell stopped all four bullets? The story and his picture showed up all over the place. Well, it turns out it was all a hoax. The Sun in London reports that Walderman's helmet was just sitting on top of his pack when it was accidentally peppered by fellow marines trying to hit an unexploded anti-tank weapon. Walderman put the helmet on and posed for photographers. Journalists it seems made their own conclusions and Walderman never tried to stop them.

"Gray" Cloud Overhead
A new Field Research poll out today shows California's Democratic Gov. Gray Davis has not only his worst job approval rating since taking office, but the worst job approval rating of any governor nationwide in the 55-year history of Field Polls. The poll shows 24 percent of Californians approve of Davis' performance, 65 percent do not.