For all of those who have placed their trust in the news reported by CNN for more than a decade, the revelations of its deceit by senior news executive Eason Jordan has been more than shocking. On the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, a fellow journalist bemoans the fact that he was assured by Jordan that CNN published “the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” to his face.
But you ain’t heard nothing yet …
Described by a wide variety of media types as setting a new watermark in disingenuous journalistic tap dancing, Jordan’s piece in the New York Times attempts to paint CNN in a heroic light, saying they were just trying to “save lives.”
Unfortunately for CNN the reality is known.
The reality is that CNN’s integrity was long ago sunk to the shadowy depths, where truth was such a barely seen, faintly dappled furtive commodity that when Jordan bumped into it, he was so startled and fearful of its light that he ran from it.
OK, OK, I’ll cut out the literary metaphors and just get down to it.
Where Iraq is concerned, CNN has now admitted to rarely publishing the truth, preferring to parrot the party line of one who they personally knew was a bloody maniac with terrible weapons and plans.
Doing “Baghdad Bob” one better, Jordan brazenly and habitually lied to fellow journalists about the integrity of his network’s reporting, a cardinal sin in the trade.
What you don’t know – and they didn’t say – is that Jordan and CNN willfully turned from knowing the truth even when it was literally pounding at their door.
Some of you may recall CNN’s 1998 historic journalistic disaster exposed by Joseph Farah at WorldNetDaily, wherein Peter Arnett, April Oliver and Jack Smith (aided and abetted by CNN’s CEO, president and Jordan) cooked up a story that wouldn’t have passed muster in a high-school newspaper.
This internationally pimped fiction launched (and sunk) the new CNN-TIME venture and its flagship program, NewsStand, where they claimed that the United States had used sarin nerve gas to murder its own soldiers – as well as women and children – and Arnett’s introductory manipulation provided the political means for Saddam to oust the United Nations’ weapons inspectors. CNN’s own military adviser, retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Perry Smith resigned in protest after his attempts to show the literal truth to CEO Tom Johnson were flatly rejected out of hand.
CNN was eventually forced to retreat from their story under the cover of 60 pages of carefully crafted legalistic mumbo-jumbo while muttering that they just couldn’t prove it, yet. Yet, why would they place their integrity on the line over such a damning story that they could not back up with fact?
Interestingly, CNN only retracted their busted story domestically – internationally, they stood their ground. Even in England, the London Times had to be forced to publish the retraction by the government after an expatriate Special Forces veteran demanded redress.
Peter Arnett publicly claimed not to have had anything to do the writing of the story, but I ensured that ABC got a verified photograph of Arnett and Oliver conducting an interview that would have immediately sunk that story in any media outlet with acceptable journalistic ethics.
But it gets better still …
A little more than a month after their “Tailwind” story blew up in their faces – Perry Smith used his remaining influence at CNN to get me in to talk to Eason Jordan and the company’s PR flack in the offices at the Atlanta headquarters. The purpose of that meeting was to give CNN a chance to recover their badly damaged credibility and to restore their network to profitability once more.
My motivation was simple: I wanted them to publish the truth that would remove some of the taint on my country and fellow veterans.
The benefit to them was that they were put on the fast track to business recovery, a classic win-win scenario.
The plan was to send an independently monitored team to Laos and Vietnam, do a forensic examination of the site of the “Tailwind” battle site and interview the survivors of that battle no matter what side they were on. The expertise was already lined up; the plan doable; the cost was under $8 million. Considering that CNN had already lost $100 million in an uncontrolled hemorrhage (that would eventually run into the multi-billions) this was truly a gift.
But to Jordan and CNN executives, the plan had a fatal flaw, because they were required to find the unvarnished truth and broadcast it – all of it. This was something they were not prepared to do then – or by Jordan’s own admission, even now.
Given all of the incontrovertible facts now in evidence about their blatantly destructive partisan actions and connection to the defunct Iraqi regime, CNN and Jordon may make journalistic history yet again.
If a federal prosecutor with a backbone can be found, CNN et al may become the first media giant to be brought before the bar for acting as enemy agents.
Even to suggest this will cause the ambiance of CNN executive suites to emulate that of a chorus of scorched cats. It’s about time.
Tom Marzullo is a former Special Forces soldier and a veteran of submarine special operations. He resides in Colorado.