Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Family Memories: The International Journalist Brother Gets to Iraq

Do you remember the video of Saddam visiting with his British "guests" - really hostages - in the run-up to the first Gulf War? That was 16 years ago today. It looked like he might hold them as a human shield, but they did make it out before the war started. My brother watched that on TV in Bagdhad. That was also the day he flew into Iraq with the legendary Mo Amin - the TV journalist who broke the Ethiopian famine story, and is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Of course, that means Mo has to take some of the blame for that "We Are the World" song. Also along on the dangerous trip was John Simpson, still a big-time reporter with the BBC. I just remember my family being on high alert emotionally, and I believe this was the time my mother called the home offices of Reuters in London to find out how David was going to get out of there when the shooting started. Incidentally, Mo Amin is still a legend in the news business, even though he was killed in a hijacking years ago. A lot of David's colleagues ended up maimed or killed. In fact, Mo had one arm torn off in Ethiopia prior to his violent demise. David himself was used in the promo for a CNN special called "Dying to Tell the Story", being chased by the police in South Africa - footage that still shows up now and then. He's running and carrying the camera, and though he got away, it looks like he's about to get killed. I've told my brother to write a book about it, and we co-wrote a screenplay called "Covering It". What a cast. Picture him sitting in a garden with Nelson Mandela the day after Mandela's release from prison. Or meeting Mother Theresa. Or getting arrested in China and elsewhere covering the news. It's a very dangerous profession. My respect level for many of these cable news anchors went way up seeing them covering Lebanon and Israel last month. It reminded me of those years when my brother was bopping around all over the world. Fortunately, he made it out of Baghdad before the Gulf War shooting started. And he made it out of the news business in one piece. It was exciting for the rest of us to follow but who needs the stress?


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