Our news media have long lectured us that their role is not to be "stenographers to power." Theirs is the pursuit of truth, we are told. But when it comes to networks like CNN, those ethical rules are crumpled and tossed into the nearest trash bin.
Editorial writers at The Washington Post and elsewhere have raged against the Pentagon placing positive stories in Iraqi newspapers, thus violating the journalistic sacristy of objectivity. But they have no rage at all for CNN placing glorifying publicity from terrorists on a global television network.
On the Oct. 18 edition of "Anderson Cooper 360," CNN aired a story by reporter Michael Ware, an Australian correspondent renowned for his contacts with terrorist groups. The story showed video filmed by terrorists calling themselves the Islamic Army of Iraq. From the very start, the viewer sees this for what it is: enemy propaganda. The grainy video shows Islamic terrorist snipers time and again shooting and presumably killing American boys.
(CNN, bless its heart, cut the footage just before each bullet found its mark, but not before the sound of the rifle fire that launched it.)
Here's what CNN also aired, without editorial comment of any sort, as "news": The translator has the terrorists saying they should wait to shoot the American soldier, since there are innocent "people" around. Later in the report, the shooter claims to be trying to target an American soldier, not Iraqis. Since when have these insurgent murderers cared about killing Iraqi soldiers or civilians? They've massacred thousands with remorseless regularity.
The video is sickening. Imagine being the mother or father, sister, brother, wife or child of that American soldier murdered so brutally.
So why did CNN air something that cannot be defended as newsworthy? That video was given to CNN by terrorists in order to demoralize the American people about the hopelessness of Iraq just before midterm elections. And CNN did exactly what the terrorists wanted, and CNN knows it. In his introduction that night, Anderson Cooper said, "Insurgents" -- never terrorists, mind you, always "insurgents" -- were "delivering a deadly message, aiming for a global audience." CNN is the terrorist's messenger service, FedEx for the fanatics who want us dead.
It's part of a long and increasingly shameful history. CNN first came to prominence as a tyrant's bootlicker in the first Gulf War in 1991, when the network agreed to allow Saddam Hussein to edit its reports in return for preferential access in Baghdad. Once entrenched, the perpetually embarrassing Peter Arnett reported on the Allied bombing of baby-milk factories -- that weren't baby-milk factories. CNN didn't fire Arnett. They retained him even after his atrocious 1998 CNN-Time documentary asserting that Americans gassed their own soldiers in Laos, another story that fell apart under scrutiny. Sense a trend? CNN seems eager to pounce on stories that make Americans look evil and/or lethally incompetent. Whether they are true is irrelevant.
The story of evil in a foreign land was easily crumpled by CNN in a slavish desire for access. In April 2003, days after Saddam Hussein fell, CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan wrote an op-ed in The New York Times admitting he had scrapped stories from Iraq out of fear of violence from Saddam's regime. He struggled to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open, but couldn't seem to report vital news, even news that his own producers were subjected to electroshock torture. His career at CNN didn't end until he recklessly claimed American soldiers were targeting reporters for assassination in Iraq.
This isn't even the first occasion of CNN being used as a terrorist sock puppet this year. In July, CNN's Nic Robertson traveled into a heavily damaged Beirut neighborhood to decry Israel for bombing civilian areas. It also transpired that all along, he was being escorted by and taking instructions from the terrorist organization Hezbollah. The Hezbollah "press officer" even instructed the CNN camera: "Just look. Shoot. Look at this building. Is it a military base? Is it a military base, or just civilians living in this building?" Robertson later claimed Hezbollah had "very, very sophisticated" press operations and the terrorist group "had control of the situation." Hezbollah had control of CNN.
It's also not the first terrorist video distributed by Michael Ware. In 2004, when Ware was a Time reporter, he was handed an insurgent videotape of the killing of American contractors in Fallujah. Ware confessed, like Robertson, to losing control of the situation with terrorists: "I certainly go out there and expose myself. I've been to the safe houses. I surrender myself to their control. I've sat in living rooms face-to-face with these men," he said.
He surrenders himself to terrorist control. This from the man who works for CNN -- the network whose role is not to be a "stenographer to power."