According to the late US Senator Hiram Johnson (or possibly ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus), the first casualty of war is truth.  

If that’s the case, spare a thought for those journalists dedicated to seeking out the facts when conflict breaks out, either on the ground as the bullets fly or in the broadcasting rooms where broadsides of a more diplomatic nature can come their way. 

Of course, the first and most important casualties of war are always, well, the actual casualties – most often innocent men, women and children caught in bewildering, horrific violence beyond their power to affect or alter.  

But warzones have a way of gobbling up reporters and journalists’ lives and careers with just as much impunity. And those who don’t risk death can often simply disappear. 

The online world was grappling with just such a conundrum this week, and responded with a petition to restore respected broadcaster Sangita Myska to her role at LBC radio.  

For those out of the loop, the award-winning Ms Myska presented a hugely popular weekend phone-in show, but went off the air after April 14.  

While no official reason has been given for her abrupt radio silence, her departure came after what has been described as either a “fiery” exchange or a simple run-of-the mill, “unremarkable” interview with the Israeli government spokesman Avi Hyman.  

The Herald: Sangita Myska interviews Avi HymanSangita Myska interviews Avi Hyman (Image: LBC)

Hosted the day after an aerial attack which saw Israel bombarded with more than 300 Iranian drones and missiles, Myska pressed Hyman on what could have caused the outbreak of hostilities – the first direct violence between the two rival states.

Myska asked whether the attack was a “retaliatory strike” after Israel had hit Iran’s consulate compound in Damascus, Syria, on April 1st.

This act of war cost the lives of Brig Gen Mohammad Reza Zahedi - a senior commander in the al Quds force – and 12 other people and poured petrol onto a conflict which already reached boiling point some time ago.

The international community reacted with horror, with diplomatic premises such as embassies supposedly sacrosanct from direct warfare.  Iran also promised dire consequences.

But Israel would not comment on the strike directly, even though the country’s involvement was independently confirmed by the Pentagon the next day.

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Myska said that “consulates and embassies are sovereign territories of the governments concerned,” and that “what Israel did by taking that action against Iran was to escalate what is already an incredibly fragile situation.”

She added: “What Israel did was strike what is considered – in diplomatic circles - the sovereign territory of Iran, whether we like it or not.

“And there was undoubtedly going to be a blowback.” She asked Hyman: “So did Israel game out what was going to happen next?”

The Herald: The airstrike on the Iranian compound caused widespread damage The airstrike on the Iranian compound caused widespread damage (Image: PA)

Shaking his head throughout the questioning, Hyman held the line, responding that the claim was “an outrageous framing of the reality” and saying that the embassy was not a diplomatic mission but “an al Quds military base being used by the forces of the Iranian regime.”

He accused Myska of “copying and pasting” a response from Iran, and that reporters worldwide were only repeating what the regime wanted them to. 

Myska stressed that the claim the compound was an embassy had been reported across the globe, while Sir Richard Dalton, a former British diplomat in Iran who had been on the show earlier, had not disputed it being named so. But Hyman wasn’t having it.

So far, so robust. But also - so much for Myska, who didn’t return for her next weekend show, nor any subsequent editions. 

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but having carved out an impressive CV as a news presenter and journalist, Myska is someone a station would want among their stable of presenters. 

Having begun her decades-long time as a journalist at the BBC on their trainee reporter scheme, her career includes a 2008 undercover investigation into child trafficking in Bulgaria, which was credited with helping influence the creation of UN Gift (United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking). 

She won current affairs presenter of the Year at the 2023 ACTA Awards, and for her reporting on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Podcast in 2019 she won the best current affairs category at the British Podcast Awards.

Myska is also a regular panelist on other high-profile shows including Jeremy Vine on Channel 5 and Lorraine on ITV, and was this year named radio presenter of the year in the prestigious Asian Media Awards. She is, in short, a star. A jewel in the crown of any broadcaster. 

Her show has also been good for LBC, pulling in an average of 500,000 listeners for her afternoon editions on Saturday and Sunday – up 34.4 per cent since she took over the slots in September 2022. 

The Herald: LBC RadioLBC Radio (Image: LBC)

And so mystery surrounds her disappearance from the airwaves, and fans fans demanded she be reinstated. Almost 25,000 people signed the petition calling for LBC to bring her back, but this fell on deaf ears. 

Others actually called her show – now filled by another presenter, Ali Miraj, a former Conservative Party parliamentary candidate - to ask where Myska had gone. A couple even got through, to the embarrassment of its editors. 

For her part, Myska has kept quiet – posting pictures of her garden on social media (hinting she was on gardening leave), and only commentating to say she missed her fans. 

This has led to a great deal of speculation her last big interview led to her being taken off air, and dark murmurings of political interference.

One fellow presenter at LBC, speaking to the New European website confidentially, said the newsroom was flabbergasted.

“There is shock about what has happened, and the assumption is it was a consequence of the Hyman interview, and, if that is the case, then who is going to be next? 

“Colleagues like James O’Brien have been much more critical of Israel over Gaza. Sangita had built up a real rapport with her listeners and was one of the few we have with an impeccable broadcasting pedigree, after 20 years at the BBC.” 

But now the news has become official, with this week LBC confirming that Myska had departed as part of a shake-up of the schedule.

Parent company Global thanked the presenter for her "fantastic contribution" to the station, and announced Vanessa Feltz among the new hosts being added to the weekend line-up.

Feltz is not a direct replacement for Myska, because she is hosting a programme in a different time slot, but will take over from 4 May fronting a new show between 15:00 to 18:00 on Saturdays.

But the timing of one star rising and another setting has set tongues wagging again.

Feltz has stayed above the controversy, saying in a statement: "After a long and passionate courtship, I've finally succumbed to the allure of LBC. Actually I was powerless to resist.

"Global's dynamism is mesmerising and it is the high octane station from which to broadcast, in this riveting election year.”

“I can't wait to join the Global family and get cracking. Brace yourself for May 4th - May the fourth be with you!" 

Ending with a Star Wars reference – a movie franchise which features an invisible Force capable of moving things around behind the scenes - may not have been the wisest choice of words.