Remembering “Baghdad Bob”


Baghdad Bob, of happy memory


It would, I think, be a very, very . . . er, unusual experience to serve as the public spokesman for a transparently dishonest regime or organization.  (See this film, for example.)  I expect that you would have to erect high and firm walls to keep the truth out if you wanted to succeed at your task.  As the famous muckraking writer Upton Sinclair observed, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”


I recall reading an article in the Wall Street Journal, many years ago, about the Tobacco Institute of America.  The Institute, it said, pays top dollar in order to recruit the very best public relations graduates in the country right after they leave school.  They’re young, creative, and energetic.  But they tend to resign within just a few years, despite the high salaries.  Why?  Because, in the end, they can’t endure the lying, can no longer live with themselves or sleep at night.


But at least one might be able, in the interim, to serve as the butt of jokes for amused outsiders.


With that in mind, here’s a walk down memory lane with Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, former Iraqi information minister, who is also known in the United States as “Baghdad Bob” and in the United Kingdom as “Comical Ali” (the latter a pun on the nickname of the late Iraqi defense minister and mass murderer Ali Hassan al-Majid, “Chemical Ali”).  Don’t be worried by this thread’s title:  Mr. al-Sahhaf is now enjoying happy and well-earned retirement in the United Arab Emirates, with his loving family.  Enjoy!



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  • RaymondSwenson

    I think the more interesting aspect of the story is how CNN took everything “Comical Ali” fed them and published it to the world, in return for being able to brag that they had a news bureau in Baghdad. The CNN stories were all based on selling lies about Saddam, even as they witnessed atrocities on a major scale. One of their drivers was a man whose tongue had been cut out by Saddam’s sons. CNN voluntarily cut out its own tongue to conceal Saddam’s depravities. And what penalty did they suffer for their lies?

    • DanielPeterson

      Well, in the long run they’ve suffered a substantial loss of market share. That seems to follow pretty directly from the perception by many in the public that they’re untrustworthy, and, thus, it appears to be appropriate punishment.