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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

United States Takes to Airwaves in Iraq

Aired August 8, 2003 - 20:09   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: After months of Iraqi insurgent attacks against U.S. troops, the military is trying a new method to counter aggression. The U.S. military's latest strategy: take to the airwaves.
Our Harris Whitbeck explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. administrator Paul Bremer sits down for the taping of his weekly address to the Iraqi people. He will be seen on what's called the Iraqi Media Network, the latest edition to the Iraqi airwaves.

Funded by the United States, the fledgling television channel is being used by the U.S. to reach out to the citizens of the country it occupies.

GEORGE MANSOUR, IRAQI MEDIA NETWORK: We are concentrating on people, on suffering of people, and what the people like to say, just speak their mind.

WHITBECK: Winning Iraqi hearts and minds. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein himself did not seem enough. There is still a palpable sense of mistrust of U.S. intentions among people here. That is where U.S.- funded media organizations are supposed to come in, ensuring the free flow of information, so that Iraqis can form their own opinions.

The idea may be good, but execution is not easy. Few Iraqis have unfettered access to televisions or the electricity to run them. And media consultants brought in by the United States say training Iraqi journalists in the Western ways of the craft is, to say the least, a challenge.

SHAMEEM RASSAM, IRAQI MEDIA NETWORK: It is a challenge of reconstruction of the human mind. As we all know, 30, 35 years, the human mind, or the Iraqi mind, has been, what, captured, sort of, I call it, really captured.

WHITBECK: And 35 years of censorship has done little to inspire trust in the media, especially in official government channels.

"They only cover some of the news," this street vendor says. Some of they say it true, but some of the coverage is not true at all."

Some the U.S. message might be getting out, but not all choose to believe it.

Harris Whitbeck, CNN, Baghdad.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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