Tim Blair


New Criterion



Tuesday, February 18, 2003
READER ANDREW B, who also writes a bit, reminds Uncle of his failures in bringing Auntie to account. All in the way of encouragement of course.

Next issue: When the ABC does vox-pops from Baghdad to give us an impression what the "people" are saying (eg Mark Willacy last night), shouldn't viewers be told that the sample may be skewed by the fact that the reporter will be kicked out for recording comments Saddam doesn't like, and that those interviewed may be shot for not parroting the right lines? At the very least, we should know that the reporter has with him a paid agent of Saddam who is there to make sure no one says anything the regime doesn't like - or else.

Well, that puts Andrew on a Unity Ticket with John Pilger. He certainly thinks that any journalist who accepted a place in the pool system run by the US army in the Gulf in 1991 - or does in 2003 - is disgracefully complicit with the war-criminals in Washington, London (and Canberra) in promoting the oppression of the down-trodden and deceiving the audience. Not suggesting Saddam is a war criminal, of course.

Pity Auntie doesn't have a program to raise the issue.

Here's Uncle's suggestion for a codicil to Willacy's future conversations with the Iraqi people:

"While interviewing that Iraqi citizen, Mark Willacy was accompanied by member(s) of the Iraqi secret police who routinely murder, torture and rape anyone who disagrees with Saddam Hussein. The nearest torture chamber is around the next corner on the left. We did not have permission to film it or record the sounds of the inmates. We broadcast Willacy's interview as a contribution to balanced reporting of the US war on the people of Iraq."

Alternatively, Auntie could find interviewees among the several million members of the Iraqi diaspora who have chosen to live in the countries forming the Coalition of the Willing, and were rather hard to see among the pacifists marching last weekend. Even Henny Herald could find a couple.