Pentagon PR nominee blasted for suggesting US TV networks aid terror

WASHINGTON - Dorrance Smith, nominated to become the next chief spokesman and director of public affairs at the Pentagon, came under fire during his Senate confirmation hearing last week over an article he wrote accusing US TV networks of aiding terrorists.

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) told reporters that he was troubled by Smith's views on the US media and would oppose his nomination. "That you would characterize [US networks] as aiders and abettors of the terrorists that attack us, as far as I'm concerned, that is so far over the top, it's unacceptable," he said.

Smith, who served as senior media adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, wrote in a Wall Street Journal article on April 25 that "Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Al-Qaeda have a partner in Al Jazeera and, by extension, most networks in the US. This partnership is a powerful tool for the terrorists in the war in Iraq."

The New York Times reported last week that some Senate Republicans see Smith's nomination as in jeopardy.

Smith would replace Lawrence Di Rita, who has been acting spokesman since the departure of Victoria Clarke in June 2003.

The White House did not return a call seeking comment.

During the hearing, Smith said he wanted to "reinvigorate" Clarke's program of embedding reporters with US troops in Iraq to encourage more positive stories about the war.

Smith also has served as a senior media adviser to President George H.W. Bush and as a producer for ABC News' This Week with David Brinkley and Nightline.

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