Pulitzer Prize- and Emmy-winning correspondent Peter Arnett, who has spent a lifetime covering wars and international crises for major American news organizations, will offer his view on the role of the journalist in war and peace when he speaks at West Virginia University at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, in Room 205 Martin Hall. The event is open to the public.
As the controversy over the war in Iraq grows, the theme of Arnett’s presentation is “Needed: A Much More Responsive Media”—one that puts the interests of the American public, in peace and war, ahead of partisanship and timidity in the face of political spin masters.
Arnett most recently covered the second Gulf War in 2003. He is best known for his live television coverage from Baghdad during the first Gulf War in 1991. His coverage was credited with making CNN a household name. Millions of viewers tuned in around the world to watch his dramatic accounts of the intense bombing campaign—and his interview with President Saddam Hussein.
Arnett won a television Emmy for his Baghdad coverage to add to his Pulitzer Prize for Vietnam War coverage while with The Associated Press. He covered that war for 13 years for the AP, from the buildup of U.S. military advisers in the early 1960s to the fall of Saigon in 1975.
Arnett wrote more than 3,000 news stories for the AP, mainly eyewitness accounts of major battles between American and North Vietnamese forces. The writer-historian David Halberstam described Arnett as “the best reporter of the whole Vietnam war.” Halberstam wrote, “He is the journalist most respected and beloved by his peers. No one saw more combat and no one would put himself more on the line.”
As the fear of terrorism grew in the 1990s, Arnett kept returning to Afghanistan. He was the first western TV journalist to interview the arch-terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, in 1997.
Arnett’s autobiography, “Live From the Battlefield,” published by Simon & Schuster in 1994, received much critical praise and was named a “Book of the Year” by The New York Times.
Arnett is also highlighted in the recently published book, “Feet to the Fire, the Media After 9/11,” edited by Kristina Borgesson and published by Prometheus Books. The book features a 40-page interview with Arnett.
Arnett lectures on media issues and international affairs in the United States and abroad and frequently serves as a commentator on television and radio on those subjects. He left CNN in 2000.
Arnett, who lives just outside of Washington, has spent much of his time in Baghdad, writing articles, lecturing and researching a book about the fall of the Baath regime. An excerpt from the upcoming book, about Saddam Hussein’s son, Uday, was featured in the April 2005 issue of Playboy Magazine.
He will begin teaching journalism in China in February.