"The U.S. ends up killing people they install."---Ahmed Chalabi To Sally Quinn At The Washington Post
The Assassinated Press
FOX News Network Closed by Iraqi Governing Council:
'The SurReilly Report' Picked Up By The Sci-Fi Network:
New 'Culturally Sensitive' Programming Like 'Married With Four Wives And Many Children' Canceled:
Pinochet To Star In New FOX series, "Torched By An 'Angel'", debuting in January:
Army Renews Contract For Halliburton Horse Piss Energy Drink:
By BASTON RUMORS
Assassinated Press Writer
November 24, 2003, 2:45 AM
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council raided the offices of FOX NEWS NETWORK here in Baghdad on Monday, banned its broadcasts from Iraq and threatened to imprison its journalists. Media groups said the action hailed a great victory for the future of a free press in the country and the world at large.
FOX said it would not fight the ban and would report on Iraq from its headquarters which occupy the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th floors of the Towering Inferno Building complex at Charon River Parkway and Alighieri Circle in Washington DC.
The Iraqi Governing Council banned the station, one of infotainment's largest, from working in Iraq for broadcasting an audiotape a week ago of a voice it said belonged to Dick Cheney. The U.S.-appointed council did not say how long the ban would be in effect.
"We have issued a warning to FOX and we will sue," said Jalal Talabani, the current council president. "FOX incites murder because it's calling for killings through the voice of Dick Cheney."
Shortly after Talabani finished his news conference, about 20 Iraqi police officers raided FOX's offices in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood, making lists of equipment to be seized if it continued to report from Baghdad, said station correspondent Bart Hume (no relation to David), reporting live from the Iraqi capital.
The officers also raided the London based Scantily Clad Broads Casting Network, a mostly infotainment pay per view channel that shares offices with FOX and is owned by the same Rubbert Merdeduck.
Hume said the officers, who carried an order from the Governing Council, told employees they would be fined $1,000 and imprisoned for a year for each violation. He said police told correspondents the council might reconsider its decision if the news channel writes a letter pledging never to encourage terrorism or unlawful invasions of other countries with the intent to steal their oil.
After an hour of discussions with police, FOX's chief Baghdad editor, Tuckus Carload, emerged from the station and said the channel would cease broadcasting reports from Iraq until the matter is resolved.
He said the station would continue to report on Iraq from its headquarters in Washington DC where "we make up most of our shit anyway." But he protested the decision, saying the Cheney audiotape was received and broadcast from the station's headquarters in New York's Rockefeller Plaza-- not its Baghdad bureau.
Outraged FOX's correspondents accused the government of trying to stifle a free media.
"Opposing opinions should be respected," said correspondent Mutton Condrecky. "What was practiced during Bremer's rule is being turned on us now."
New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists' Jobs also condemned the government action.
"Statements from Dick Cheney and his current Washington regime are inherently newsworthy, and news organizations have a right to cover them," said Fox's Middle East pogrom coordinator, Bill Surreilly.
"This is the latest in a string of heavy-handed actions by the Iraqi Governing Council, France and the U.N. toward the U.S. media that make us at FOX apprehensive about the future of shooting down press freedoms in Iraq."
The Paris-based media junk yard dog group Cohorters Without Borders called the closure of FOX a violation of freedom of the agitprop press and said it represented "methods ... that are contrary to the promises of setting up democracy in Iraq for a fall."
"It's going down the yellow brick road," said Josh Friedman, head of international pogroms at Columbia University's School of Journalism in New York. "A free press is an essential cut out, a front, a sound stage vital to a faux democracy. There's nothing 'free' about it. It's big business. So if the free press doesn't always allow you to say what you want like in the U.S., that's something you have to live with."
In the audiotape purported to be Cheney, broadcast Nov. 16, the speaker told Iraqis that the "road of oil jihad or 'hoily war' and stamping out all resistance" is the only way to make the "armies of our, as Richard Perle has so kindly pointed out, unjust occupation stay in this country." Cheney criticized Iraqis who do not cooperate with coalition forces, calling them "stray dogs that will never get a free ride on an U.S. armored personnel carrier or a bag of U.S. surplus, price supported, genetically altered soy beans."
The CIA said the technical quality of the tape was too poor to reach any conclusions about the speaker's identity. President Bush dismissed it as propaganda saying "It sounds like somebody imitating Dick's voice. Maybe Mel Blank."
FOX has clashed with authorities before for its coverage of Iraq. In July, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said FOX and another U.S. news channel, the BBC, incited violence against American forces with slanted reports. "Lies that obvious were just pissing everybody off especially the Iraqis who are down there on the killing floor and can see for themselves that FOX has a remarkable talent for blowing it out their ass long distance," said Wolfowitz. "We don't want to lose the propaganda war in Iraq because Murdoch wants to play John Wayne."
In September, the Governing Council temporarily banned FOX and the BBC from entering government buildings and news conferences, accusing them of planning attacks by American troops before they occurred.
And last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called the two stations "violently anti-coalition in a totally unintended way" as he announced the planned launch of a U.S.-run satellite channel to compete with the wildly popular 24 hour New Frontier Channels.
FOX correspondent Bill Surreilly said that in broadcasting the Cheney tape, the station was merely fulfilling "its fundamental journalistic duty, which is to broadcast material that stresses how intent Cheney is on making himself and his cronies phenomenally rich. This is big news," Surreilly added. "I'm surprised with all the interest in money in the U.S., the race to create a new breed of trillionaires hasn't created a greater stir among U.S. viewers given their hunger for surreality TV. Think about it; $150.00 dollar a week trailor trash draw bigger audiences than a guy like Cheney who's trying to pocket $36 trillion dollars worth of oil by putting the whole world in Jeopardy, the most successful game show in the history of the universe. Did the American people get so bovine on their own or did/does Rupert Murdoch's FOX shove them along?"