April 25, 2003
NPR’S BAGHDAD CORRESPONDENT Anne Garrels (bio) has returned home and was interviewed by NPR staple host Susan Stamberg, for Wednesday’s Morning Edition. The aired version is not quite eight minutes long, including Bob Edwards’ segue, and is a montage of bits from the interview and pieces of previous reporting from Baghdad.
Fortunately, NPR loves its website users and put together this page which contains a written variation of the aired version as well as a full 32 minutes of the interview itself, apparently unedited. At the bottom of that page, more links to audio and webpages about Garrels.
I was definitely impressed that Garrels apparently has an electrical engineering degree, since she variously ran her laptop and contraband satellite telephone off either the lightbulb outlet powered by the hotel generator, or using a car battery that she hauled down and up 11 flights for its daily recharge. You’ll have to listen to the interview to discover why she called in to NPR while naked.
Another notable thing was that the journalists in Baghdad quickly realized that the bombing was very accurate and restricted to the Government centers, nowhere near the reporters. (This apparently caused some aggravation to the home-desk anchors on the BBC, as I recall.) But their fears quickly turned to the Iraqi minders, who were always adversarial and had less and less to lose by vanishing a reporter, stealing or demanding cash or equipment.
Her tale is probably typical of the Palestine Hotel-based journalists, and the elements from it will no doubt be added to the traditional romance of the foreign correspondent lifestyle. Government minder-thugs will go up there with the waiting by the teletype machine, padding receipts, hotel-bar drunkeness, bombed-out cynicism, and trying to find a new angle on an old story.