By the right, Fox in step with brass
By Tom Allard, Herald Correspondent in Kuwait City
Sydney Morning Herald - April 8 2003
Not for the first time, the most spectacular images of the United States armoured advance to Baghdad have come from Rupert Murdoch's Fox Network.
After scooping its cable news rivals CNN and MSNBC with footage of troops entering Baghdad and then later storming Saddam International Airport, a Fox reporter, Greg Kelly, and his cameraman had the dress circle view yesterday as a column of US 3rd Infantry division tanks took a tour of Baghdad landmarks.
Starting at Saddam Hussein's main presidential palace, viewers were afforded footage of gold-plated wash basins and waterfalls, and a US soldier hoisting a Georgia University pennant.
Then onto Baghdad's parade grounds and their giant crossed sabres commemorating the Iraq-Iran war. US soldiers mugged for the camera and held up the stars and stripes while Kelly did live crosses with Fox anchors in Washington.
Then came the coup de grace: the destruction of the iconic statue of Saddam astride a steed to cheers from the US soldiers.
Meanwhile, Fox's rivals were shut out of town. CNN had to make do with distant shots of smoke-filled Baghdad and retold wire service stories from reporters with troops.
A US military spokesman, Max Blumenfeld, denied that Fox - with its racy but unashamedly patriotic and unquestioning coverage of the war - was being openly favoured. However, he did say enigmatically that public affairs officers such as him were paid to "know your enemy".
"Fox may well have more access. They have good contacts and they asked the right questions in the pre-planning."
Fox is now the most watched cable news network, introducing a right-wing tabloid ethos to the staid 24-hour news industry.