Kurt Pitzer is a former commercial longline fisherman and relief worker who has reported from many of the world's turbulent regions, including the Balkans, the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He was embedded with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division during the invasion of Iraq, then jumped his embed as Baghdad fell. He met Dr. Mahdi Obeidi soon afterward and helped him go public with Saddam Hussein's remaining nuclear secrets. He and Obeidi cowrote The Bomb in My Garden: The Secrets of Saddam's Nuclear Mastermind, which was published in paperback in September 2005.
Question: How do you rate American media coverage of the Iraq war?
Pitzer: Oh, I think it’s been terrible, you know. I think the whole embedding process was a master stroke of the Pentagon’s ability to sort of turn journalists into cheerleaders and [co opt] any sort of independent thinking. It’s very hard as a journalist to go into a conflict completely fresh eyed when you’ve been through training courses where you have to learn to put on a gas mask in 9 seconds flat, where you are traveling with U.S. troops and you’re expecting to be gassed by these, you know, terrible Iraqis in any moment, and people are shooting at you as you go through a country, and the people protecting you were the ones that you’re supposed to be writing about as one part, hopefully, one part of a conflict. And, unfortunately, the coverage was very, obviously, one-sided because there was no access to any other side. And there was for awhile, you know, when Baghdad fell, and as it was falling, a number of us left our embeds as quickly as possible and try to get out into, and meet and live with Iraqis in Baghdad. And that happen for a number of months before the kidnappings and the situation in Baghdad became so dangerous that journalists were no longer able to go out and freely report. So, once again, we have a situation were most of the news, fresh news from journalists, at least Western journalists, in Iraq is being done from behind, you know, behind the lines of American troops and with only, you know, feelers being sent out for very quick runs into, you know, the Iraqi residential areas.