CNN Deception

 Posted by on 12 April 2003 at 9:34 am  Uncategorized
Apr 122003

The brouhaha over CNN’s admission of withholding news unfavorable to Iraq in order to preserve their access to that country has a rather interesting history.

Back in October of 2002, The New Republic published an article entitled Air Wars which argues that news outfits like CNN are under such tight restrictions that staying in Baghdad requires them to become shills for the regime. CNN’s Baghdad Bureau Chief, Jane Arraf, wrote a scathing letter in response (second from the bottom) arguing that CNN’s coverage was not compromised by the restrictions and monitoring of the regime.

Even more interesting was what I heard on Brit Hume last night. After that TNR piece, some CNN executive (Eason Jordan himself, I think) flatly denied any withholding of news in order to preserve access to Iraq in an interview with NPR. He said that CNN would rather pull out of Baghdad than slant coverage. (I wish I could find the exact quote, but web searches haven’t proven fruitful.) Brit also had some interesting quotes from CNN reporters on how much Iraqis love Saddam, meaning that CNN wasn’t just failing to report the news, but also happily spreading Saddam’s propaganda.

CNN needs a new slogan, perhaps something like “All the news that two-bit dictators want us to report.”

Update: A reader (“alee”) was kind enough to post the URL of the earlier interview with Eason Jordan which was quoted by Brit Hume in the comments section. Here’s the relevant quote:

I mean we work very hard to report forthrightly, to report fairly and to report accurately and if we ever determine we cannot do that, then we would not want to be there; but we do think that some light is better than no light whatsoever.

But what if the light is not adequately illuminating what it ought, namely the horrors of the regime? Also, when asked about a presence in Iraq during the expect Gulf War II, Jordan said:

We’d very much like to be there if there’s a second war; but– we are not going to make journalistic compromises in an effort to make that happen, being mindful that in wartime there is censorship on all sides, and we’re prepared to deal with a certain amount of censorship as long as it’s not– extreme, ridiculous censorship where — which we’ve actually seen a number of cases in previous conflicts — not just with Iraq. But– sure! We want to be there, but it’s –we don’t want to be there come hell or high water. We want to be there if we can be there and operate as a responsible news organization.

Of course, “journalistic compromises” by a something other than a “responsible news organization” is a pretty apt description of CNN’s coverage between the two Gulf Wars.

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