In my job, credibility is everything. You have to tell the truth or the media will never trust what you have to say ever again.
That seems to be what this guy’s problem was. “Baghdad Bob,” as he was called, was Saddam Hussein’s information minister during the 2003 invasion.
He’s famously known for denying that Americans were in Baghdad even though they were already shown entering the city and making a stand on the grounds of what is now known as the Baghdad International Airport.
He was not a good public affairs officer. He would tell the media something he knew to be false, and as a result, he turned into a complete joke and couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth about something.
I finally realized why he was this way. After observing the way the Iraqi media operates here, it is apparent that it is more important for a reporter to sell the story than to get the information right.
If you call detainees “prisoners,” your story is more likely to sell. If you claim that the U.S. forces released a guy three months ago who eventually killed a bunch of people in a truck bomb, then your story sells.
Does it matter that there is no proof a former detainee was behind the wheel, and that the person was released by the Iraqi government? Of course not. In Iraqi media, all you need to do is make the story sound plausible (with some loose facts/myths) and your story is sold. They give new meaning to “don’t believe everything you read.”
So, lesson number one: credibility is a valuable commodity. If you lose it, you may never get it back.
Just ask Baghdad Bob. I believe he’s living in the United Arab Emirates nowadays.