Now that he's safe and sound back in the United States, CNN anchorman Bernard Shaw is concerned about censorship being practiced by all sides in the gulf war.
"Whenever there's censorship, truth is assaulted," said Shaw, who along with John Holliman and Peter Arnett covered the first night of bombing in Baghdad live by telephone.He pointed out that every party involved - Iraqis, Americans, Israelis, Saudis - is practicing its own type of censorship.
"I don't think the coverage will ever be full-blown anymore, if it ever was, because of censorship. The stories are going to be what the governments want people to know."
Censors in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iraq are simply cutting off reports they don't like. And Shaw said that there's also the constant threat that reporters will be expelled and their company's credentials pulled.
He also thinks that no one has the whole truth, or will know the whole truth until the conflict ends.LEAVING IRAQ: Shaw and Holliman said their most harrowing moments didn't come in the midst of the bombing, but on the way out of the country.
"The scariest part of that was stopping for gas," Holliman said.
The CNN crew had traveled 350-400 miles west from Baghdad toward Jordan when they were forced to stop at a gas station that was situated adjacent to a number of huge fuel storage tanks. They were told the pump was closed because of an air raid warning.
"I was saying my prayers the whole time," Holliman said. "I was redoubling my efforts."
Shaw said his biggest scare came just before leaving Iraq. In a border office where they had to receive permission to exit the country, the newsmen confronted by an irate official.
"He began haranguing us, denouncing the news media and CNN," Shaw said. "I realized he had the singular power to block our exit from Iraq."
Eventually, the official was mollified and allowed Shaw, Holliman and their party to leave.TABLES TURN: Shaw, who's been with CNN since its founding just over a decade ago, said the network's reputation has changed enormously.
"From our inception, our competitors - meaning the other networks - were . . . well, they did not disguise their contempt for us. They did not conceal their ridicule for us.
"Almost to a woman and to a man those people who uttered their criticism - they've recanted."ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: Here's hoping that CNN is about finished praising itself for the job that Arnett, Holliman and Shaw did in Baghdad.
This festival of self-congratulations has gotten out of hand. Particularly nauseating was a segment of "Larry King Live" featuring Holliman and Shaw. King is hard enough to take even when he isn't blatantly promoting his own network.
If these people don't stop patting themselves on the back, there are going to be an awful lot of dislocated shoulders at CNN.CNN ON KUTV: Ch. 2 has become the latest local station to sign on with the Cable News Network. KUTV signed a one-year, renewable contract making CNN coverage available to the station.
KSL is already affiliated with the all-news channel, as anyone who watched Ch. 5's coverage of the gulf war already knows. And KXIV-Ch. 14 signed on when the war began, carrying 24-hour coverage for the first couple of days and now breaking in with developments as warranted.
Ch. 14 will also now carry CNN Headline News on a regular basis - Mondays through Fridays at noon and 10:30 p.m. Each broadcast will last half an hour.REALLY BIG SHOE: So much for Karl Malone's new shoe commercial premiering during Sunday's Super Bowl - the spot made its first appearance on Ch. 5's 10 p.m. newscast Wednesday night.
Much has been made of the Mailman's L.A. Gear advertisement. All three local stations did segments on the making of the ad a few weeks back, and Jazz fans were told they'd have to wait until Super Sunday to see the completed product.
So how did it end up debuting during KSL's sportscast?
"We made some contacts with the L.A. Gear people when they were here in town, and through those contacts we got them to send it up to us," said Ch. 5 sportscaster Craig Bolerjack.
And, in the process, stole a bit of the thunder away from the Super Bowl broadcast.
By the way, the sneaker will be appearing at a shoe store near you soon - for only about $100.CHANGING CHANNELS: Not only has the gulf war resulted in a good number of pre-emptions, but events in the Middle East have caused a couple of shows to be pulled off the air because of their content.
The Saturday before the war began, ABC broadcast the first of a two-part "Under Cover" that involved a mission to Kuwait and Iraq. The network pulled the concluding episode from last Saturday's schedule, substituting an episode of "MacGyver."
There's no word on when - or if - the conclusion of the "Under Cover" story will run.
And on Tuesday night, NBC yanked an episode of "Law & Order" that dealt with terrorism. It was Irish terrorism, not Arab terrorism, but the network felt it was bad timing, nonetheless.
In its place NBC ran a repeat of "In the Heat of the Night."NOT ALONE: Just in case you hadn't noticed, Mr. Spud is having some difficulty keeping up with what the networks are running these days, what with pre-emptions, postponements and last-minute changes.
He felt a little bit better Tuesday night, however, when he saw KUTV promoting its lineup for the evening - a two-hour "Matlock" followed by "Law & Order."
By that time, even Mr. Spud knew that "Law & Order" was out and "In the Heat of the Night" was in.FAIR WEATHER: For those of you who haven't noticed, KTVX-Ch. 4 has added another meteorologist to its staff - Belinda Jensen.
Jensen comes to Salt Lake City from a public cable station in Madison, Wis. She's doing the weather forecasting on Ch. 4's 6 a.m. newscast.