June 2, 2003

SALAM PAX WAS Peter Maass’ interpreter in Baghdad. Heh:

My inner journalist tells me to draw back at this moment and write about the larger significance of my encounter with Salam Pax. That working alongside—no, employing—a star of the World Wide Web and being blissfully unaware of it is a lesson about the murkiness of today’s Iraq, a netherland of obscurity in which you cannot know who was a Baathist and who was not, or whether the man in the middle of the street with a gun is going to shoot you or not, or whether the country is spiraling out of control or just having teething problems before becoming a normal nation. My inner blogger, however, tells me to skip the What This Means stuff and write about my life with Salam Pax.

Read the rest. And my Big Picture take is that when a journalist as good as Peter Maass can have Salam Pax as his interpreter and not figure it out until he’s back in the States, we should take all the reporting from Baghdad as, at best, tentative.

UPDATE: Nick Denton reports:

Peter leaves out one nuance. On Thursday night, his first evening back in New York, a bunch of us went out for dinner. Peter, who was taking some time to realize what a celebrity Salam had become, would tell his war stories. But all anyone wanted to know, gallingly oblivious of media status, was this: “So, Salam, what’s he like? What was it like working with him?”

Such is fame and the blogosphere.

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