In October 2002, The New Republic's Franklin Foer accused CNN among others of collaborating with Saddam's Ministry of Information in order to retain "access" to news from inside Baghdad: Air War: How Saddam Manipulates The U.S. Media.
CNN executive Eason Jordan responded to these charges in an NPR interview by Mike Pesca, saying: "The [New Republic] writer clearly doesn't have a clear understanding of the realities on the ground because CNN has demonstrated again and again that it has a spine; that it's prepared to be forthright; is forthright in its reporting." And later, "We're not reading Iraqi propaganda; we're reporting as an independent news organization."
Now, after the fall of Baghdad, the "realities" are revealed. In last Friday's New York Times, Mr. Jordan confessed to withholding information about Saddam's bloody regime: The News We Kept To Ourselves (a must-read, but requires free registration). Excerpt: "For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk."
And an article by Peter Collins in yesterday's Washington Times describes his experience with Mr. Jordan's complicity in airing Iraqi propaganda: Corruption at CNN. Excerpt: "The day after one such meeting, I was on the roof of the Ministry of Information, preparing for my first 'live shot' on CNN. A producer came up and handed me a sheet of paper with handwritten notes. 'Tom Johnson wants you to read this on camera,' he said. I glanced at the paper. It was an item-by-item summary of points made by Information Minister Latif Jassim in an interview that morning with Mr. Johnson and Mr. Jordan."
And as if the hypocrisy couldn't get any worse, there's this report from The Washington Post: U.S. Uses Iraqi TV to Send Its Message. The U.S. government has taken over Saddam's air waves and is broadcasting its message of "self-government and free enterprise" along with news from ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS and Fox. Guess which media outlet refused to participate on ethical grounds? Excerpt: "CNN declined to have its newscasts included. 'As an independent, global news organization, we did not think it was appropriate to participate in a U.S. government transmission,' spokeswoman Christa Robinson said." (Via The Command Post)
Finally, Capitalism Magazine's Mark Da Cunha has a deeper analysis of this issue, including information about the BBC: Saddam Hussein's Real Ministers of Disinformation Come Out of the Closet.
And in The Washington Dispatch, Greg Lewis examines what CNN has in common with much of the Arab media: When Worldviews Collide.
UPDATE APRIL 23: Mark Steyn weighs in on CNN: All the News That's Fit to Bury. Excerpt: "CNN's slogan is 'The Most Trusted Name In News, which rings a little hollow now. I like the counter-slogans doing the rounds on talk-radio: 'No Blood For News.'" (Via SteynOnline)
Posted by Forkum at April 16, 2003 12:41 AM