And now the most engrossing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
As the Pentagon waits for final results on what preliminary tests say is a cache of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the final results of such tests are becoming less relevant for Americans to justify the war. A Gallup Poll out today shows 58 percent of Americans believe the war is justified even if coalition forces do not find evidence of biological or chemical weapons. Two weeks ago only 38 percent of Americans felt that way. Similarly, just 24 percent of Americans today believe the war is justified only if evidence is found, down twenty points from 41 percent two weeks ago.
Not Going for a Second Opinion
CNN medical correspondent and neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, who helped with emergency surgery this weekend on a dying Iraqi boy hit in the head with shrapnel, has provoked some harrumphing among the judges of journalism. Bob Steele, the director of the ethics program at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, told the Boston Globe he was uncomfortable with Gupta's action. He said, "I don't think he should be reporting on it if he's also a participant. He can't bring appropriate journalistic independence and detachment to a story." CNN said it was proud of what Dr. Gupta had done.
A Kuwaiti newspaper reports that worshippers in Kuwaiti mosques are starting to interrupt and reject clerics being hostile toward Americans in their sermons. The Al Siyassa newspaper says worshippers at a mosque in Al-Jabiriya interrupted their cleric's war supplications against America, and told him to stop. At another mosque, worshippers chanted, "Allah make Islam strong and make America strong." The newspaper cites political analysts who say this reflects a new phenomenon in which Muslim worshippers "aren't ready any longer to accept everything that is said to them."
Peter's Press Pass
Journalist Peter Arnett, fired by NBC and National Geographic for his interview with Iraqi TV two weeks ago, still has strong defenders within the U.S. media. A columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle is saying Peter Arnett was fired for "telling the truth." The columnist, Harley Sorenson, says the media overreacted to what Sorenson characterizes as a comment that U.S. war plans "had to be modified." In fact, Arnett said the U.S. war plan "failed." Sorensen goes on to call Arnett "courageous" and "the greatest war correspondent who ever lived."