BROOKE GLADSTONE: And now for a few of your letters. Mark Naymark writing from Paris wrote--
BOB GARFIELD: Hm! Paris!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Well, wait till you hear what he says. Bob's interview with military propaganda expert Jamie Metzel shows the danger of believing one's own propaganda. Metzel recalled a so-called blooper committed by the Iraqi propaganda machine the G.I.'s called Baghdad Betty. Betty is supposed to have warned soldiers about their wives back home fooling around with Bart Simpson, thus demonstrating the difficulty of effectively demoralizing the enemy during war time. According to the Snopes.com urban legend reference page, this story began as a joke on the Johnny Carson Show.
BOB GARFIELD:Hm! Paris. Big deal. Well monsieur, we checked into this and here's what we found. Baghdad Betty did exist. No one disputes that. But it seems that Johnny Carson did make the Bart Simpson joke before the news media ever reported it as fact. As recently as last week both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported what we did -- that Baghdad Betty told soldiers that their wives were canoodling with Springfield's favorite son. On the Media is in the middle of tracking down various military personnel who claim to have heard this particular utterance first ear. We'll report our findings next week.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:And this from Tangiou Kataltapay [sp?] --apologies, Tangiou, but this is why we ask listeners to tell us how to pronounce their names. Tangiou e-mailed us about Rick Davis's report about books made best sellers by the War on Terrorism. Mr. Davis, Tangiou writes, refers in passing to the Koran as that "collection of often contradictory statements." Not only is this an extremely offensive statement to any Muslim; it is also an expression of ignorance. It is hoped that he benefits from some of the books he was reporting about.
BOB GARFIELD:Another interesting letter wasn't intended for us but was from one 5th grader to another as reported in the New Yorker. I am sorry about the crash, the letter begins. I hope none of your loves ones died. My uncle was a couple of blocks away when it happened, but he is okay. To tell the truth, I really didn't pay attention to the attack until I found out about my uncle. Now I'll even listen to NPR, the most boring radio station in the universe besides opera. Now I really care what happens. Best wishes, Jane.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Have a comment? [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include information on where you live and how to pronounce your name or you may be appalled by what you hear.
BOB GARFIELD: [YAWNS] Now-- music. [OPERATIC CHORAL MUSIC UP AND UNDER]