Words Matter: Arnett's Baghdad Boo-Boo

“Peter Arnett, recently fired from NBC for giving an interview to Iraqi TV, has provided a lesson in media relations in today’s global society…. We live in a celebrity age. Arnett had turned himself into a controversial celebrity. As such, anything he says is fair game. The Dixie Chicks just learned this when lead singer, Natalie Maines told the audience at a performance, “We’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” Within hours, that comment was being replayed, and fans made it clear they were ashamed of the Chicks. Despite an apology from the group, stations and fans around the country are boycotting their songs. One of the perverse aspects of celebrity is that missteps can ultimately bring more celebrity. Arnett was hired within hours by one of London’s leading tabloids. Other journalists may sniff that he is lowering his journalistic standards, but he certainly raised his market value.” Merrie Spaeth

Words Matter: Arnett’s Baghdad Boo-BooUPI)

The authors warns, “you don’t have a personal opinion” when you are a public figure (journalist, politician, or entertainer) and there is a TV camera nearby. Reagan is still being ridiculed for his infamous “we begin bombing in five minutes” joke, and footage of the assistant combing Bush’s hair as he prepared to address the world a few weeks ago will outlast many other less candid moments.