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The boring answer is, Nobody's. (The sanctimonious one is, The truth.) The real question is whether the role of the press in war extends to maintaining morale—and to what extent "maintaining morale" is a synonym for "not ticking off the viewers." Arnett's crime was that he "created a perception" of bias, to use the standard weasel words. Worse, he created a perception of the opposite bias from that which, as is clear to anyone with sight, MSNBC wants to convey. The network flies a flag in its lower left-hand corner and uses the military's name for the war, Operation Iraqi Freedom, to brand its coverage. Those also happen to be two on-screen signatures of Fox News, the vocally patriotic network that has continued to beat MSNBC and second-place CNN in the ratings since the war began. Patriotism pays. So Fox and MSNBC dueled over who was the greater quisling. Fox produced an attack-style ad highlighting Arnett's interview; MSNBC aired a spot (complete with flag) that promised, "We will not compromise military security or jeopardize a single American life," an apparent dig at Rivera. Even CNN (like TIME, a unit of AOL TIME Warner) was defensively asserting that it was no Mata Hari. During a live report from Walter Rodgers with the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, outside Baghdad, anchor Carol Costello prompted, "Walter, just to clarify for our audience, everything you're telling us is O.K. with the military, right?"
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