FOREWARD: To many in support of the war this is a breath of fresh air. To me, it is proof of the unreliability of the media. If the CNN coverage were to turn to outing every tyrannical act around the globe are we then suppose to act in each case? And if we are to be selective, then whom do we allow to remain in misery?
I am just as concerned about the inaccurate coverage here at home in the USA. To some this story may justify the USA's role as a world police force, but all it does for me is increase my skepticism of the media.
Ernie Hancock, Phoenix, AZ
CNN's astounding admission
By Jon Ham – Herald-Sun
In an astounding confession on Friday, CNN’s top news executive admitted that the cable news network has been doing propaganda for Saddam Hussein for the past 12 years.
Eason Jordan, chief news executive of the cable network, wrote on the New York Times op-ed page on Friday that CNN for years has withheld important news about the Iraqi regime, ostensibly because reporting the truth would jeopardize CNN’s Iraqi employees. It might also have gotten CNN kicked out of the country, too, and that apparently was a price CNN was not willing to pay. They chose to shill for Saddam rather than be shown the border.
Over the years, Jordan wrote, “I became more distressed by what I saw and heard – awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.”
This is an astonishing admission. A network that influences public policy and public opinion world wide now says its editors and correspondents have been withholding the reporting of atrocities to the world, giving a false (meaning favorable) impression of what was happening in Saddam’s Iraq. Simply amazing.
Maybe all those people who have detected pro-Arab and pro-Saddam slants in the reporting of CNN correspondents Christiane Amanpour and Peter Arnett over the years were not just imagining things.
Think back on those 12 years of perfidy. How many foreign leaders, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, soccer moms, peace protestors and media commentators were spurred to work against a war on Iraq because of CNN’s intimidated coverage of events in that benighted country? How many Iraqis were tortured, maimed, raped, beheaded and put in acid baths during the time CNN was soft-selling Saddam’s regime to the world?
More importantly, how many other news organizations knew what CNN’s executives knew and also did not report it? Did every news organization that has been operating in Iraq since 1991 make the same unholy alliance? Apparently there were others. “Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers,” Jordan wrote.
He also writes of being told by an aide to Uday Hussein, Saddam’s maniac son, that he had no teeth because Uday’s thugs had pulled them out with pliers and told him not to wear dentures so he’d be forever reminded of the price to be paid for displeasing Uday. He writes of a woman arrested for the crime of talking to CNN who was beaten daily for two months in the presence of her father before finally being put out of her misery by having her skull crushed and her body “torn limb from limb.”
“I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me,” wrote Jordan. “Now that Saddam Hussein’s regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.” Simply incredible.
One has to wonder by how many years those decades of torment could have been shortened if CNN had reported accurately what was happening in Iraq. Or, if they didn’t have the stomach for that, by leaving the country so as not to prop up the regime with cleansed reports designed to be acceptable to Saddam’s watchers and minders.
Maybe the French or the Germans would have become outraged if they had known what was truly happening. Maybe even Bill Clinton would have been spurred to do something. Not likely. The fact is, they all knew, just like CNN knew. They just didn’t do anything about it. And all this time we thought it was only al-Jazeera that was faking the news.
All the ivory tower journalists, pundits and professors who have been having conniptions because embedded reporters are showing the American military in its true light need to focus on Jordan’s astounding admission. They need to evaluate what irresponsible reporting of this magnitude did to prolong the agony of Iraq.
These pundits need to assess how much CNN’s non-reporting did to spur an ill-informed anti-war movement and to give political cover to the UN and Democrats in Congress who put obstacles in the way of the Bush administration as it sought to eliminate this horror.
They also need to ask what other atrocities are being covered up by CNN’s 30 international bureaus, especially those located in totalitarian capitals. What other despots are being propped up by “journalism”? Cuba? North Korea?
Jordan’s revelations give new meaning to his comments in an interview given in October of 2001 to National Public Radio: “CNN has to cover the world differently because our audience is not the United States only; our audience is the world.” And ruthless dictators that might hurt us, he might have added.
Jon Ham is Director of Digital Publishing for The Herald-Sun. He can be reached at 419-6682, firstname.lastname@example.org, or at P.O. Box 2092, Durham, NC 27702.