Freedom of the Press in Iraq

"Freedom of the press is beginning to smell a little rotten in the new Iraq," reports Robert Fisk, listing some of the fatwas that U.S. Proconsul Paul Bremer has issued against Al Jazeera and other Arab media. "Things are no better in the American-run television and radio stations in Baghdad. The 357 journalists working from the Bremer palace grounds have twice gone on strike for more pay and have complained of censorship. According to one of the reporters, they were told by John Sandrock - head of the private American company SAIC, which runs the television station - that 'either you accept what we offer or you resign; there are plenty of candidates for your jobs.'" On the other hand, more than 100 newspapers have sprung up, some of which "have carried blatantly untruthful stories about the occupation army, claiming that U.S. soldiers have been involved in distributing pornographic pictures to schoolgirls or taking Iraqi women to the bedrooms of the Palestine Hotel. One problem is that many journalists for the Iraqi papers are either converts from the old regime or new writers who have no journalistic training in fairness or fact checking."